Why are US-Brazil relations more important than justice?

President Barack Obama no doubt is thinking about his legacy as the first African-American to occupy the White House. It would be a shame, therefore, if the history books were to show that when it came time to seek justice for a true American patriot, Obama dropped the ball.

Hence, we renew the call we’ve made several times for the administration to use the power and influence of the United States to secure the extradition from Brazil of Claudia Hoerig. Hoerig, a United States citizen, is under indictment in Trumbull County for the murder of her husband, U.S. Air Force Reserve Maj. Karl Hoerig.

Karl Hoerig, a decorated military veteran, was shot to death in 2007 in his Newton Falls home. His wife fled to her native Brazil before his body was found.

The Brazilian government is protecting her for reasons unknown, even though a Trumbull County grand jury indicted her on a charge of aggravated murder with a gun specification.

County Prosecutor Dennis Watkins, who has been unrelenting in his quest to secure her return, has wondered aloud why the president is not showing the same courage he displayed when he sent elite troops into Pakistan to get the world’s leading terrorist, Osama bin Laden, in going after accused killer, Claudia Hoerig.

Bin Laden was the mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack on America’s homeland that claimed 3,000 lives. Navy SEALS raided bin Laden’s home in Pakistan and killed the leader of al-Qaida.

Watkins believes that a presidential order would tear down the barriers that have been erected by the Brazilians to keep Hoerig, who renounced her Brazilian citizenship when she took the oath of citizenship in America, from being sent “home.”

Like Watkins, U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Niles, D-13th, and former Congressman John Boccieri, who once lived in New Middletown, have pursued various legislative strategies to force the White House and the State Department to issue an ultimatum to the Brazilians.

Thus far, the Obama administration has been more interested in entering into trade agreements with Brazil than seeking justice for an American patriot.

But Ryan isn’t giving up. Last week, he and U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson of Marietta, R-6th, introduced bills to force Claudia Hoerig’s return by ending the issuance of visas by the U.S. to Brazilian citizens, and blocking $14 million in foreign aid to Brazil.

The bills were similar to the ones introduced by Ryan in 2011, but the congressman wasn’t able to get them to the floor for a vote.

GOP control

This time, however, with Republican Johnson expressing his commitment to seeing justice done, the chances of the measures being voted out of the GOP-controlled House have greatly improved.

In the end, however, President Obama holds the key. In seeking re-election last year, Obama campaigned heavily in this predominantly Democratic region. He received one of the largest votes in Ohio from the area, which played a significant role in his victory in the battleground state.

It’s now time for the president to show his appreciation by taking a personal interest in the murder case of Air Force Reserve Maj. Hoerig.

We, a nation of laws, must not sacrifice justice on the altar of U.S.-Brazil relations.

“We are not going away until Claudia Hoerig’s butt is back in Trumbull County and in the courtroom,” Ryan said last week.

Our sentiments, exactly.

The Obama administration should disabuse itself of the belief that justice can be served by having the trial in Brazil, as some officials in that South American country have suggested.

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