Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Goldman Case

One thing I wanted to write about before I got sidetracked by the unexpected death of our friend was this whole Sean Goldman case, at least to say thank goodness the guy got his kid back! I don't plan to dwell on it for long as I think most of everything that can possibly be said about the case already has, but I did want to say that my heart goes out to the kid. I mean, he got yanked away from the family he's known for the past five years on Christmas Eve, and unless Sean's stepdad was a real-life Vernon Dursley, that's got to suck. And he's got a tough road ahead getting used to what is essentially a new culture, a new language, a new climate... not that it ever should have gotten to the point where it was a new culture for him, all over again.

My mother asked me how my wife felt about the whole ordeal, as she watches the news religiously and has been following the story. I thought that she was pretty sympathetic to the father's point of view, but it turns out I hadn't asked the right questions because when the subject came up on Christmas Eve I discovered that she wasn't as sympathetic as I thought. I won't go into any more detail than that.

Which brings me to the last point I'm going to make about this, which relates to the differing media coverage of the story. I must confess I get most of my news from U.S. news sources, and (for better or worse) that includes my news about Brazil. I try watching stuff on TV and even though I've been here for eight years now I still only feel like I'm getting half the story. But it was very interesting to watch the two bits of video posted by Rio Gringa- one from MSNBC and one from Globo, the Brazilian super-news-and-entertainment conglomerate. As you might imagine, the one from the U.S. news source makes the Brazilian family look like evil incarnate, running the poor kid through a nightmare of cameras and reporters, despite efforts on the part of the Americans to make the transfer minimally traumatic. The clip from the Brazilian news source, in the form of a commentator's narrative over video of the Goldman's plane taking off, is much more sympathetic to the Brazilian family. It states that it was the Brazilians who wanted to make the hand-off mais suave, and there was no offer from the Americans, that all of their requests were ignored by the Americans. There's also an interesting bit about how Sean had promised to wear the same t-shirt for the whole journey, and if he was to get off the plane wearing a different shirt this was supposed to signal the family back in Brazil that things weren't going well for him.

I have no idea what he was wearing when he got off the plane. I'm not that obsessed with the story.

Obviously someone is lying about one of these versions of events. And I hate to say it, but I think the U.S. version is closer to the truth.

I could go on, but I won't. All I really wanted to say was congrats to David Goldman for persevering, and kudos to Rio Gringa for keeping the story alive and covering it so closely. And now let's hope the two Goldmans will fade into happy obscurity.


Fabio Bossard said...

This is just a crazy story that I don't even know what to comment. I am Brazilian and I hate how the Brazilian family plays the victim. They held Sean away from his father for 5 years. Give me a break. Aside from that, I have heard a lot of nonsense, like that Sean should be heard. How can he choose living in Brazil or US if he was too young to remember his life there.

Pedra said...

Vilma told me that she thinks Sean should have been able to keep living with his grandmother. Seems like that's the cultural norm in Brazil when someone dies, the grandmother takes care of the kid (Vilma's mother is now taking care of Vilma's niece after her sister died in November). But when we talked about it a little more, she said "it's complicated" and that perhaps there should be some kind of half and half custody deal. I don't know...I'm glad it ended like it did and think it was horrible that the poor kid got paraded down the street when he was going to the consulate.


Patricia said...

Hi--I stumbled upon your blog at 4:35 this morning because I am having trouble getting to sleep. Bit of background: I am an American who has lived and worked in Brazil (for 3 years back in the 80s). It was an experience that I will never forget or regret, and neither will you.

Anyway, I haven't had a chance to read much of your blog, but the post about the Goldman case happened to be one of the first I saw.

No question, the Brazilian *abductors* are a very well connected and wealthy Rio family. As you know, the 2 always go together in Brazil. The American media never picked up on this, possibly because the level of corruption in Brazil is unfathomable to most Americans. Corruption is how the gov't,large companies --and everything else-- works. I believe that this is so engrained in the culture that it will never change.

That's not to say that money and influence don't help in the USA, but it is nowhere near the levels in Brazil. That's one of the main things I learned while living in Brazil, you cannot achieve anything without $ and connections. The more cash you have, the more "justice" you get. It is a fact of life.

The only reason Sean was returned to his father is because the Obama administration put pressure on the Brazilian government.