Bring Sean Home—The Forgotten Story

, ,

We have been so absorbed by issues such as what health care reform will do to our national character and what the President of the United States will say to our kids (and I am not minimizing the importance of these concerns), that other issues and stories have tended to go completely off the public’s radar screen.

One such story is the never-ending personal tragedy of David Goldman, the New Jersey father whose son, Sean, was abducted to Brazil five years ago, when Sean was only 4-years old.

I have been posting on this story since the beginning of the year, with the last update on June 19, or almost three months ago.

It is the story of an American father’s brave fight to bring his son home, a 9-year old boy who is being held in Brazil in violation of all international norms, and human decency.

According to the blog BringSeanHome.org,:

On June 16, 2004 David Goldman said goodbye to his son, Sean, at Newark Airport. He didn’t know it at the time but his wife, Bruna, and her parents Silvana Bianchi Ribeiro and Raimundo Ribeiro were in the process of abducting Sean and taking him to Brazil with no intention of ever returning. According to the Hague Convention, to which both the United States and Brazil are signatories, this was a clear case of international child abduction, otherwise known as parental kidnapping.

David has been relentlessly fighting in the Brazilian judicial system during the past five years to win back custody of Sean and to bring him home to their house in Tinton Falls, New Jersey.

But David has run up against two very powerful and influential families in Brazil that have done everything they can, used every judge and court they could, to prevent Sean from being reunited with his father.

The case has been back and forth between lower Brazilian courts and the Brazilian Supreme Court.

The courts have issued rulings and orders only to have them appealed and reversed.

Back in June, a Brazilian judge ruled that David Goldman should have custody of his son.

However, there was just one big string attached: David Goldman could “have custody” of his son for only six days a week, from Monday 9 AM until Saturday 8 PM, and…in Brazil.

This ridiculous ruling has been appealed.

This morning, David Goldman appeared again on NBC’s Today Show. In an interview with Meredith Vieira, an obviously exhausted and disheartened Goldman expressed frustration not only with the Brazilian government and judicial system, but also with our own government’s interpretation of “making swift progress” in this case that has lasted for five agonizing years.

He expressed surprise at how our government was able to obtain the release of two “adults” who went to an unfriendly nation, North Korea, of their own free will, but cannot get a friendly government to return a child to the rightful custody of his father—an action that is mandated by the The Hague Convention and by every international norm and rule of human decency.

Goldman pointedly expressed his disappointment that while Brazil is holding 70 children, “a couple of weeks ago we are funding off-shore oil exploration [in Brazil]—over $2 billion…what signal does that send?”

But there is hope, again.

According to Goldman “a final decision is expected the end of September.”

When Meredith Vieira asked Goldman whether he was optimistic, he replied:

I have to be hopeful, but until I am on the plane, with my son, and those wheels are up and we are gone, then I’ll be optimistic.

We understand, David. Good luck, and thank you, NBC, for keeping the story and the hope alive.

Auf Stumbleupon zeigen
Auf tumblr zeigen

Author: DORIAN DE WIND, Military Affairs Columnist

  • kathykattenburg

    Dorian, thank YOU, too, for helping us not to forget this heartbreaking story. Sean's father is right about the outrage of the U.S. government being able to get two adult journalists out of hostile North Korea, and not be able to do the same with a nine-year-old boy being held in captivity in a friendly country. However, I submit to you that it is not an issue of competence or ability — it's an issue of will. And I submit to you, further, that it is precisely because Brazil and the U.S. have friendly relations, added to the fact that Brazil has offshore oil reserves, that keeps Sean from being reunited with his father. The U.S. has a lot to lose by pissing off the Brazilian government and/or its most powerful and wealthy families, which are probably more or less the same thing (as they are here as well).

  • D. E.Rodriguez

    Have to agree with you on a lot of this, Kathy. It is sad that often economic, political, strategic issues and factors trump principles and what's the right thing to do.

    On this one, I am hopeful that international law, human decency and other pressures (e.g. there is legislation being introduced in Congress to address exactly such outrages) will pevail.

    Thanks

    Dorian

    P.S. and it is not just Brazil. The statistics on international parental kidnapping are staggering