by Sarah Allan
In 2002, Karla Berenice Garcia Ramirez uncovered corruption in her native Mexico that went straight to the top of the country’s cultural ministry, the National Council for Culture and Arts (Conaculta). As a result, she and her family received death threats, forcing them to move to Canada. Now their application for refugee status has been denied, and what will happen to her family next is a frightening unknown.
As an award-winning journalist, upon discovering evidence of corruption she put her pen to paper, under the name Karla Lottini, and exposed the what she had witnessed and even been asked to participate in herself as an employee with the ministry. She leaked thousands of documents that contain evidence of bribery, kickbacks and other forms of corruption. No newspaper in Mexico would print her story and expose the corrupt government ministry, so eventually, after moving to Surrey, British Columbia with her husband, she wrote a book. The book, ‘The Talent of the Charlatans’, was published through the University of British Columbia (UBC) and Simon Fraser University (SFU).
As soon as Garcia Ramirez blew the whistle on what was going on behind the scenes at Conaculta, she was fired from her position. Soon after, she and her family began receiving death threats, in person and by phone. Fearing for her life and her family’s safety, she fled to Canada and applied for refugee status. She now volunteers as co-host of a community radio program focusing on Latin affairs, and is deeply involved in her community. Since coming to Canada has had two daughters, who are Canadian.
In 2010, the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) of Canada denied her request for refugee status. In 2011, her appeal for pre-removal risk assessment was also denied. With the help of her lawyer, Lobat Sadrehashemi, (who is very well-respected in the field of refugee law and has written on the issue) and the organization No One is Illegal, she is now beginning her last efforts to keep her family safe in Canada. She is filing an appeal based on ‘humanitarian and compassionate grounds’, which asks the Canadian government to allow her and her family to stay on the basis of compassion for her situation, as she fears that should she be deported back to Mexico she will face jail, torture or even death.
Did you know that despite the increasing violence and rising numbers of civilian deaths in Mexico last year between only 10 -17% of refugee claims from that country were accepted?
Read her statement:
and a few articles on the issue: