Monday, April 8, 2013

News Regarding the Edith Fuentes Family

In a previous post titled The Caserio Casa de Madera I wrote about the family of Edith Fuentes and the problems they’re facing. We talked with an attorney last week to determine what the circumstances are regarding Edith’s husband Julio Campos and why he remains in jail two years after his four year sentence expired. We met with the attorney this morning and were given some very discouraging information, but first let me comment about the attorney.

I am often critical of the casual Peruvian attitude toward time, time commitments and quality of service. Attorney Hugo Zapata Farias is an exception. He is a 68 year old Chiclayo attorney who was a former Supreme Court judge.  He has an office in central Chiclayo that he shares with his son who is also a lawyer. When we met with him last week and explained that we were trying to help the Fuentes family he thanked us for our efforts and waived his normal fee; ultimately charging us only $19 for expenses incurred. He promised that he would have a complete report for us on Monday (this morning) at 9:30am and that is exactly what happened.

Some of what Hugo told us we already knew. In April of 2007 Julio Campos was involved in a fatal traffic accident and was found to be at fault. He was sentenced to four years and a fine of 15,000 soles (not four years or 50,000 soles as I mistakenly reported). In 2011 when his prison term expired he was released under the stipulation that he pay 100 soles per month until the 15,000 soles was paid. Court records show that for over a year payments were made regularly but then became sporadic. According to Edith there were times when it was a choice between putting food on the table or paying the court. After several consecutive months of missed payments Julio was seized and returned to prison.

Before Julio reentered prison the family had paid 2000 soles toward the fine, leaving a balance of 13,000 soles ($5,040 USD) still due. Hugo met with a judge this morning before seeing us in an attempt to negotiate a settlement of some sort but was not successful. The judge would not lower the amount outstanding and said monthly payments are not an option. So either the Fuentes family comes up with 13,000 soles or Julio sits in jail conceivably forever…something we’re powerless to do anything about with our limited resources.

Like I said, discouraging news, but there is a small bright spot. In response to our appeal for donations several people came forward with generous contributions, specifically stipulating that the money be used to help the Fuentes family. Included with one of the donations was a comment we’d like to share:

“I've read your posting about the Fuentes family with interest - a donation should be winging its way to you via the new PayPal button now...

I also read your more recent blog about considering shutting down your charitable work - this is sad news to say the least. I've always been inspired by your doggedness to help those with very little, even though you yourselves have little to help them with. One of the reasons I have donated to Promesa Peru in the past is that I like (perhaps a little selfishly!) to see directly the practical impact the money has - i.e. not to some large multi-national charity where it's anyone's guess where the money actually ends up.

I really hope you are able to keep plugging away on the front-line, finding the people you seem to have little trouble in meeting who need the practical help of others. I can understand the frustration as word of Promesa Peru spreads and people's expectations/hopes increase, but this is testament to what a fantastic job you are doing.”

The encouraging words and contributions came at a time when we needed them most. As the donor suggested we’re going to attempt to “keep plugging away”. The donations received will allow us to provide temporary relief to the Fuentes family. We’ll try to do that this week and post a follow-up report.

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