Thursday, December 24, 2009

Child Abduction Politics IV

Nine-year old Sean Goldman will return to the United States with his father and Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ). They will be home in time for Christmas. Sean's grandmother, Silvana Bianchi, has decided not to file any further appeals.

The U.S. government at the highest levels and the U.S. media assisted the divorced father, David Goldman, with his quest to have his son returned to him. Presidential talking points included the issue, Congress held hearings, and Senators placed holds on crucial trade legislation.

The grandmother told CNN Wednesday it was "very sad, a country that exchanges children for economic agreements."

According to CNN, while the chief justice was still studying the case, Brazilian Attorney General Luis Inacio Adams said the executive branch of Brazilian government sided with Goldman. The Attorney General reportedly said:
Once we stop cooperating and start breaking our treaties andinternational obligations, Brazil risks the chance of not having its own requests in the matters regarding international judicial help granted, based on the principle of international reciprocity. 
Not releasing the minor into the custody of his father could bring sanctions against Brazil. It could damage Brazil's image before the international community.
Yes, it is a triumph for the rule of law.

But it is also a triumph of power and privilege. Few have the time, the resources, and the connections to make their personal heartache an international diplomatic incident. It takes a lot of work to "work" Congress. It takes a talent with people and a talent with presentation. Mr. Goldman is both articulate and photogenic.  It takes a great deal of time to meet and cultivate members of congress. Mr. Goldman does not have a 9-5 job.

And it takes a profound self-confidence to believe so strongly that you are 100% right. Over time, it is not surprising if the cause overwhelms the goal. Of the few fathers I have met, none had any doubt about themselves or purpose.

The big question now is what will happen to the movement to enlist Congress and the Administration in the fight to return children to their left-behind parents. Will Congress continue to press for the return of other abducted children and more Hague signatories? Will Mr. Goldman continue as a spokesman and share his media contacts? The parents, mostly fathers, are far from united. Too often selfishness, desperation, and male egos clash with the need for unity and showing the U.S. government that the group speaks with one solid voice. Too many of the fathers either go rogue or refuse to listen to expert opinion. These men end up annoying government officials and undercutting their own cause.

In addition, what was a truly bipartisan issue on the Hill, is beginning to look like a partisan one. Nearly all the initiatives on international parental child abduction are by Republicans. And it was Republican Frank Wolf (R-VA) who took the Administration to task for not doing more. If the activists do not do something to correct this, the Democrats will not be particularly cooperative in the future.

It is the Bush Administration that shoved this issue to the side. I think it is too harsh to say they traded it for other things. But like many issues concerning the human dimension of international relaitons, it was just not important. The Democrats deserve to get some credit for helping clean up another Bush mess.

1 comment:

    Another story that effects Brazil, America, and Japan can be found at the above link. In Japan, a Brazilan wife, leaves her American husband and abandons her severely handicapped son. So the father (Craig) is forced to quit his job and care for his son. When the wife left she was pregnant with their second child. Now Craig is unable to see his daughter. Personally, I find it much more tragic and appalling than the David Goldman case.


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