Oscar Maldonado, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO – A custody battle case that has captured the attention of local and American press has once again made headlines. Sean Goldman, the 9 year-old boy that is at the center of a somewhat big international incident will remain in Brazil for now.
The decision came as a surprise last week (June 2nd), since a federal judge ordered the child’s return to the United States to join his father, former model David Goldman the previous day.
The judge’s decision ordered the delivery of Sean to the American Consulate in Rio for a smooth handover to his father. Also, the decision gave the right to Sean’s Brazilian family (his stepfather, grandparents and other relatives) to travel to the U.S. and accompany Sean while he adjusts to life in the country.
However, the procedure came to a halt when a Supreme Court call on the 3rd overruled the original mandate. It is argued that the sudden change of court decision came due to influence of the Brazilian Progressive Party. Also, intense family lobbying -that included street campaigns and other strategies- influenced the surprise ruling.
The Goldman case states that according to The Hague Convention resolutions, in the case of abducted children moved from one country to another; judiciary rulings must be sorted out and enforced by the country from which the person was abducted, not in the country of later residence. However, Sean’s Brazilian family argues that Sean’s adaptation in the U.S. wouldn’t be fit and that The Hague’s resolutions consider exceptions in cases of child well being. According to Sean grandmother, Sean will be better taken care of in Brazil.
Following her split with Goldman and while in Brazil, Sean’s mother Bruna Bianchi married Carioca lawyer João Paulo Lins e Silva. After Bruna’s death last year during labor complications for his second child, Lins became Sean’s caretaker. He has stated that it is in the child’s best interest the company, affection and love of his Brazilian family.
Bruna and David Goldman met in Italy while he was working as a model and she was studying arts. They married and soon moved to in the United States. Thus Sean was born in that country. Problems began when the boy came from the United States to Brazil in 2004 with her mother. The travel was supposed to be temporary, but Bruna and the child never returned to the United States.
The case has had important repercussions and it has even been discussed in high ranks of the Brazilian and U.S. governments. It has gone as far as David Goldman’s request to U.S. President Barack Obama for help with the case. Goldman expressed sore feeling regarding the Supreme Court ruling, saying the decision is “heartbreaking and disgraceful”.
On the Brazilian side, President Luis Inácio Lula da Silva spoke about the case, informally mentioning that The Hague’s resolutions should be respected. In Rio de Janeiro, the city where Sean is currently living, a local support base has formed in favor of the kid remaining in Brazil. Street manifestations with banners saying “Sean é brasileiro” (Sean is Brazilian) have been displayed in influential city quarters.
U.S. and Brazilian media have exploited the case heavily. There have been biased and side-taking positions in each country, with some Brazilian press pressing in favor of the family and some U.S. media outlets demanding the return of Sean home in New Jersey where his father lives. Also, major media powerhouses like The New York Times and O Globo have taken interest in following the development of the story.