Blue Byline

A cop's perspective of the news and South Sound matters

Puracal conviction is a verdict against U.S.

Post by Brian O'Neill on Aug. 31, 2011 at 9:50 pm with 15 Comments »
September 1, 2011 9:34 pm

Jason Puracal is in a rough spot.

The Tacoma native, who was recently convicted in a Nicaraguan court of drug trafficking and money laundering, is either the fall-guy for the U.S. and its decades of intrigue against the Sandinistas, or else he is a very lousy and unlucky criminal.

At the moment, given the desperate nature of his situation, the reason hardly seems to matter.

Currently, Puracal is living in a tiny cell inhabited by other poor unfortunate souls, scores of rats, and what has been described as some very aggressive sex offenders. Few crimes, if indeed he committed any, warrant this type of inhumane circumstances. And if the reports of such conditions are true then the Nicaraguans are miles away from declaring their country the socialist paradise the Sandinistas claim it to be.

Previous reports detail Puracal’s arrival in Nicaragua as a young Peace Corps worker, his decision to stay and marry, and his subsequent arrest. The Trib story (8/30) details his conviction and the discussion of a possible appeal.

It’s extremely difficult to judge the nature of the charges against Puracal, mostly because the criminal justice system in Nicaragua has been hostile towards foreign (i.e. American) press. From the outside looking in, the system itself seems to be little more than a political tool the current ruling party.

If we are to believe Puracal’s mother, a distinguished physician with extensive roots in the Tacoma community, then Puracal’s trial was adjudicated by a 29-year-old judge with no legal training, a prosecution that offered no evidence, amidst an anti-American sentiment propelled by a Sandinista government with a vendetta against the U.S. dating back to 1984.

Most of us over forty would have a dim recollection of that period, including the Iran-Contra affair. The details, of course, are fuzzy for most of us (including President Reagan just a short time later). But a young man, who was five when such events first unfolded, appears to be paying the price for American intervention.

Whether or not Josh Puracal is truly guilty of the crimes of which he’s been convicted–and I truly want to believe that he is not–his treatment and his future are both inhumane and bleak. This was far from the life he thought awaited him in the lush Central American country, and recognizing the disparity in justice between our two countries has been a punishing lesson to learn.

But it is a lesson other Americans, such as Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal who were arrested while hiking on the Iranian border, have learned.

At certain times and in certain places, it’s a crime to be an American.

Leave a comment Comments → 15
  1. LibertyBell says:

    “Project Democracy” working as planned, when those kindergarden lessons on the Republic were too confusing.

  2. LibertyBell says:

    Of course “disparity of justice” really depends on the meaning of the term justice.

    But that’s what happens when you leave your children behind!

  3. harleyrider1 says:

    Here’s another lesson: hike in and live in your own Country.

  4. nonstopjoe says:

    These guys engaged in risky behavior and are now paying the consequences. Hopefully, they’ll be careful in the future.

  5. The left applauded when Daniel Ortega took power, both because they love socialists and his “victory” over the american supported contras. Now, Nicaragua is a hell hole of abject poverty, corruption, violence and crime. A far cry from the socialist paradise promised. Almost all latin american countries use the US as it’s poster child of what’s wrong with their country, and amazingly enough, the peasants believe it. Parallels could be drawn to just about every american hating country in the world.

    So, amazingly enough, Brian trots out the same arguments – it’s not Daniel Ortega’s fault the country is a wreck, or that “justice” doesn’t exist. Nope, let’s pile it on the blame USA bandwagon. This is little different from “blaming” the US for mexico’s drug cartel problem. As long as the guilty can paint themselves a victim, eh? Oh, it’s not the gang banger’s fault, it’s society to blame. Unwed mothers churning out welfare babies are simply the oppressed victims of white racist wall street corporate american greed mongers.


  6. Brian O'Neill says:


    I was unaware that you had the inside track on the evidence in the Puracal case. If so, please enlighten the rest of us because I was giving him the benefit of the doubt given the deplorable conditions and extremely suspect justice system involved in his conviction.

  7. I’ve been working overseas for the past 26 years (retire in a few days ). My take is that most countries are very tolerant of Americans and that includes the Middle East. However on rare occasion something unfair takes place ( like it does to some visitors to the USA as well ). Sure our prisons are more “humane” but terrible things happen to good people on occasion, Guantanamo comes to mind. Many were held there without charge only to be freed years later. Having said that, maybe traveling outside the USA could be done more simpliy if we limited our military adventures to actual threat against our soil.

  8. Maybe it’s time to stay home. The bunch of people that went to Iraq and Afghanistan could have stayed home. The internationalization
    of everything, markets, money and people has been a disaster for the U.S. I would gladly travel the roads of Eastern Washington as a kind of vacation. Let’s tell Boeing to go to North Carolina and forget
    about the idiot foreign markets.

  9. harleyrider1 says:

    “the benefit of the doubt” ? so you were just guessing too Brian, but when someone else does, you take offense to it and have to write to your own column.

    America is a place where everyone gets to have an opinion, isn’t it?

  10. Gandalf says:

    You’ll notice, Brian, that I didn’t weigh in, one way or the other, of the guilt or innocence in this Puracal case. I simply pointed out the fact you’re deflecting blame from where it belongs. I was blaming the Ortega regime’s corruption, not the person sitting in prison. You, however, decided it was all Uncle Sam’s fault. As it is the left’s favorite whipping boy, I don’t find it all surprising.

  11. Whatever1214 says:

    Brian…. are you reading a different comment from Gandalf than the one he posted here on Sep 1 at 11:16am? Your response makes no sense.

  12. Brian O'Neill says:

    I admit I misunderstood Gandalf’s reference, thinking it was a reflection on the guilt or innocence of Puracal. My writing was a defense against Puracal’s current situation and the perceived injustice of the Sandinista regime. Puracal’s dilemma is horrible, whether he is guilty or not.

    As always, this forum is for opinion (or else why write a blog, am I right?) and the Trib welcomes participation, as do I. But be prepared to defend a point of view, especially if it comes in the form of a personal attack. For instance, I find it a gross exxageration to suggest that my default position is to blame the U.S. As a former Air Force Officer, I recognize the sacrifices made by those in uniform and that much of what they fight for is our collective right to speak freely about our country’s strengths. And weaknesses.

    In most cases, I find myself defending our current system of criminal justice. Although I can point to issues in society that contribute to crime, my job is to arrest people, such as gang members and cartel-linked drug dealers, when they commit crimes. Our country has a strong system for handling those problems (though it’s not perfect), and I can only wish that someone like Jason Puracal could receive that level of treatment.

    Enough said.

  13. LibertyBell says:

    Percieved Injustice, another babyboomers wet dream.

    General Karpinski, what a CLASSIC traitor. head of a so called military police department, Abu Gharib Prison…justice according to th Ku Klux Klan, just change the hood color to black, and everyone in America think it’s a great model of law enforcenment

    Did the Air Force Academy, teach you about a few other disasters from the Military Academys, those who recieved bullits between their eyes?
    Or was General Washingtons 1st thing in the mourning firing squad experiance, confusing in Washington.

    I see we have quite a bit mor info from Wikileaks Brian,

    OOPS, kinda difficult to hid the military ignorance isn’t “IT”
    Pierce County Classics, there here there and everywhere!

  14. Brian O'Neill says:

    Libertybell- That was incoherent.

  15. LibertyBell says:

    A whole lot of military’s incoherent, and has been for decades.

    As the great Civil War Soliger, from Lincoln’s Grand Old Party, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote
    “Freedom for the Thought we Hate, in the Marketplace of Ideas.”

    It’s a small, small, world!

    “The time to guard against corruption and tyranny, is before they shall have gotten hold of us. It is better to keep the wolf out of the fold, than to trust to drawing his teeth and talons after he shall have entered.”
    Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia 1782

    Notes on the State of Virginia 2011, right here;

We welcome comments. Please keep them civil, short and to the point. ALL CAPS, spam, obscene, profane, abusive and off topic comments will be deleted. Repeat offenders will be blocked. Thanks for taking part and abiding by these simple rules.

JavaScript is required to post comments.

Follow the comments on this post with RSS 2.0