I honestly don’t know where to begin with the Goldman case, because there have been so many twists and turns this Friday that the case has been entirely turned upside down. My head is literally spinning with all of the things that happened today, so I’ll try to explain them as coherently as possible.
The Brazilian family was granted a stay by a judge known for going against the other judges and also known for close political ties with the family. The decision meant that the case could be drawn out until February or longer, even though it’s been going on for five excruciating years.
Secretary of State Clinton commented on the TRF-2’s unanimous decision to send Sean home and how she was happy that the case was going in the right direction. You can imagine how she probably felt when she found out about Marco Aurélio’s little stunt, especially given the fact that the request – for Sean to be heard in court – was already denied months ago by the Supreme Court.
So suddenly, the wheels started spinning very fast. The international media is all over the story, and suddenly Brazil’s embarrassing judicial system is in the spotlight once again. Since Congressman Chris Smith is with David in Brazil, word got back to Congress that there was more trouble. So Senator Lautenberg from New Jersey halted a bill that would give trade preferences to Brazil in protest.
Then this evening, David’s lawyers and the AGU, the attorney general’s office that represents the Brazilian government, both filed separate injunctions (to be exact, writ of mandamus) against Marco Aurélio’s decision, directly challenging it.
Meanwhile, Marco Aurélio was kicked off the case and even though the STF is now on summer break, they will hold an emergency session in the next few days. It’s unclear whether a definitive decision will come out of it, or if David will in fact have to wait until February.
Oh, but there’s more. In reiterating its support for David, the AGU stressed that Brazil is in danger of threatening reciprocity agreements if it fails to live up to its commitment to the Hague Convention, and even said that Brazil may be tried in the Inter-American Court of Human Rights about child abduction.
It also underlined the threat of international repercussions, which the family’s lawyer, Sergio Tostes, also claimed was a serious problem with the case yet again. The AGU says that David must be given custody of Sean “as a matter of urgency.”
No wait – there’s more!
Also this Friday, Tostes had the unbelievable chutzpah to send David a letter inviting him to have Christmas dinner at the abductor’s home – that is, at Sean’s grandmother’s house. It’s their way of trying to make it seem like they have made Sean available to David all along and that they’re friendly with David, even though they refused to let him visit for five years, returned his packages and letters and gifts, refused to let him speak to Sean by phone or e-mail, and the little fact that David received death threats when he refused to give up the legal battle.
David only managed to see Sean in early 2009 under court order, accompanied by court marshals, a US congressman, and several people the Brazilian family ordered to be in the same room at all times with David. The last time he saw Sean was in June, though the family refused to let Sean leave the condo complex and subjected him to obvious psychological torture and parental alienation during the visit.
I swear, there’s more.
During a press conference today, Tostes also said that the abducting family is ready to negotiate. This is the absolute last thing I expected to happen, and is due to two things: 1) they know they are going to lose the legal battle – rumors are swirling that the higher courts are fully ready to give custody to David, and mostly 2) it seems to me that political pressure is coming from very high up in the Brazilian and American governments like never before, since this is turning into an international affairs crisis yet again.
However, this isn’t exactly up for negotiation – they committed international child abduction, among many other things, and the law is crystal clear that Sean’s custody must be tried in New Jersey. So I’m not sure how they exactly expect to negotiate, but that remains to be seen.
Even though the Brazilian family is making a last ditch effort at being diplomatic, they also mentioned during the same press conference that they will go after David with “evidence” and “prove that he’s an unfit father.” Epic fail.
In other news, in a great article from Seth Kugel, the tide of public opinion in Brazil finally seems to be moving in the right direction, as the lies fade away and people realize what is actually going on. It made me extremely happy.
Earlier this week I was more pessimistic than ever, but things have taken an unbelievable turn for the better and this house of cards may fall just yet.
Rachel Glickhouse, born in 1984, spent two years living in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil after graduating from college in 2007. She now lives in New York with her Brazilian husband. She has also lived in Spain, the Dominican Republic, and Argentina and has traveled through Latin America. You can find more about her in her blog: http://riogringa.typepad.com.