Brasilmagic\’s Weblog

Venting to the World

Is altruism self serving?

Once you understand that we are not “creatures of god”, but simply evolved beings who grew a complex brain, we become more patient with human faults. And we understand better our intentions.

I have always believed human beings do good actions like charity and activism because they want to feel good about themselves. The goal isn’t material reward, but a kind of psychological high. I think Mother Theresa enjoyed doing what she did; it made her feel valuable and important. When we give money to a cause or a charity, we feel empathetic and happy, which probably increases the dopamine levels in our brains.

Human beings are self protective. Our survival instinct is always at play, except when we make bad choices. Bad choices can be a result of low intelligence, bad parenting, emotional and mental illness. However, humans usually try to do things that make them feel good.

Skeptical much? Yes. I believe we behave and treat others well because we want to survive-and feel good.

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January 7, 2011 Posted by | Activism, Psychology | Leave a comment

The David Goldman case, almost a year later.

Next month it will be one year since Sean Goldman boarded a private jet with his father David and came back to his home in New Jersey. It was a 5 year struggle for David. I only heard about the case early in 2009 through a friend who sent me the Dateline NBC link. The case piqued my interest for obvious reasons: I am Brazilian born, I live in the USA, I was married to a foreigner and I have children. But in the first place, my heart went out to that father, and I was able to empathize with his pain.
I spent the best part of 2009 writing emails to politicians in Brazil as well as in the United States while making posts online about the story. Helping David was my priority in 2009, to the point that I left other things behind.
I am sure next month there will be many posts about the Goldman case and a lot of memories will be brought back. For me, it was seeing the wedding pictures of one of the volunteers on Facebook this week that made me realize how all the people who actively helped David through emails, posts and phone calls had this bond-the bond of having a good heart.
I met many wonderful people through the Bring Sean Home website. We formed a community. Almost one year later, I talk to these people as if they are good friends. I follow their lives. This particular bride lives in Portugal, one lives in Miami, another in Rio, another in Colorado, another in New Jersey..and the list goes on. We are united through our sense of empathy and our dislike of injustice. I hope we continue being friends and helping other parents in similar situation.

November 13, 2010 Posted by | Activism | 2 Comments

The hearing on International Child Abduction December 2, 2009

I had the wonderful opportunity to be present at the Congressional hearing on international abduction promoted by Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ).  Several congressmen present, as well as Brazilian and American media and the witnesses. The testimonies from the Left Behind Parents were touching and powerful.

David Goldman’s testimony was specially moving. I sat there thinking:  everbody knows cases of parents, specially some fathers, who do not want the headache of raising their children, and this man is going through all this trouble just to be able to have a normal life with HIS son.

I also met and talked to some of these left behind parents. And after one year involved in David’s case, I finally met him.  My impression of him can be defined by these adjectives: a composed, balanced, warm, classy, good human being. The kind of father every woman would wish for her child. So why, why is this father deprived of raising his own son?

Here is the answer: the selfishness of a jealous second husband, the immorality of the mother’s family, the emptiness, emotional disorder and clinginess of a grandmother, the irresponsability of those who support them and the corruption in the Brazilian Judiciary.

For details on the hearing and to read all the testimonies, go to: www.bringseanhome/forum/showthread.php?t=2222

To watch David’s testimony at the hearing, click here: http://gallery.me.com/costavideo#101263

December 3, 2009 Posted by | Activism | 1 Comment

Brazilians are passive about corruption-David Goldman case an example

care2I had some Brazilian visitors at my house and they know my disgust with the fact that David Goldman still does not have his son back in the United States. I asked them their position on David’s case and they are in favor of Sean being returned to his father (“obviously”, they pointed out). However, their attitude is of “defeatism” and “apologism”.

They gave me a very grim picture of Lula’s government and the ever existing corruption in the country. They said Lula is almost dictator-like and the poor population loves him due to popular actions like a “basic basket” of free monthly food items to those who have an income lower than a certain amount, the “school-scholarship” which is a certain amount of money given to parents who guarantee their kids go to school, etc.

Apparently Lula bailed out the Globo media group, which was struggling, and now they never badmouth him. Globo is the largest TV station in Brazil with the most viewership.

Meanwhile, corruption runs wild in a big scale, and most Brazilians feel helpless. Even though I lived in Brazil most of my life, it still shocks me to hear that the population accepts the corruption passively. They complain and complain, decade after decade, but they simply do not get together and act against it. They claim is has gotten better than in the past, but still has a long way to go.

I tried to argue that Brazil is an avid internet user and that widespread information is the best weapon to bring corruption to light and provoke enough ire that public opinion forces change. I gave as an example Twitter, extremely popular in Brazil, which has corruption stories availabe for all to see. My visitors said it doesn’t matter. The majority of the population just doesn’t care. All they want to watch or read about is SOCCER, Formula 1 and SOAP OPERAS. They skip the news on TV and watch the “novelas”, the soap operas that millions and millions of Brazilians watch every single night. If you try to discuss something more serious with many people, even the “educated” ones, they immediately lose interest. Girls are raised to try to be “models” and boys aspire to become soccer players.

They accept corruption with passiveness. They shrug their shoulders and say “fazer o quê, né?” (“do what, right?”). There is little sense of organization, community and activism. They say that it will take “100 years” to change the mentality, instead of trying to change things NOW. I blame only one thing for the state of affairs and corruption in Brazil: the Brazilian population. Finally, they did not try to find out more and showed no interest when my husband and I talked further about David’s case. I think they think this is small potatoes in the grand scheme of corruption. I believe that is the attitude of many educated middle class Brazilians now.

 

July 27, 2009 Posted by | Activism, Brazil | 3 Comments

Doces Cariocas will have a show for David Goldman

Pierre Aderne, the leader of the Brazilian musical group “Doces Cariocas”, will have a show at the end of August for the Bring Sean Home cause. I am happy that a Brazilian artist decided to publicly show his support to David. The group received the “Premio de Musica Brasileira 2009”, which is like our Grammy award! They will be recording their DVD in August at the Teatro Tom Jobim and will be playing in great venues in Rio and Sao Paulo such as Teatro Rival, Copacabana Palace, Cinematheque and Estudio SP. Congrats Pierre and all the members of the group!

doces-cariocas_Agenda[1]

 

Here is Doces Cariocas’ Myspace pages:

www.myspace.com/docescariocas

www.myspace.com/abacateiro

July 15, 2009 Posted by | Activism, Music | 3 Comments

David Goldman can have Sean during the week…in Brazil

As promised, the latest chapter of David Goldman’s struggle to get his son back in his life, correcting an error that should never have happened in the first place!

The Brazilian Supreme Court (STF) did not accept the Progressive Party’s ridiculous motion. All judges voted against it, including Marco Aurelio Melo, who had accepted it in the first place! Justice Ellen Gracie Northfleet impressed me with her discourse on the Hague Convention. Ricardo Zamariola, David’s lawyer in Brazil, impressed me with his youth and to the point presentation of the case. Minister Antonio Toffoli impressed me with his oratory skills and extreme common sense about the case.

Who did not impress me? Sergio Tostes, the maternal family’s attorney. Old rhetoric, cheap emotionalism.

With that out of the way, the case went back to the Federal level. After Judge Pinto’s wonderful decision which made everyone ecstatic, it was frustrating to hear that the case still had to be judged at the Rio Federal court. Delay, delay.

A few days later, we were shocked to see a transcript of an interview made by a PUC (Catholic University in Rio) psychologist, friends with the family, who interviewed Sean Goldman. The family one more time exploited the boy to get what they wanted: cheap emotionalism. Sean was cowered into saying he did not want to live with his father or either see him. I can only imagine how hurtful it must have been for David to read those lines, after all the sacrifice he has made for Sean, the trips, the gifts, the hugs and “I love yous”.

Talk about parental alienation at its finest.

One day later we were stunned to hear that Judge Pinto, the hand behind the 82 page document detailing parental alienation and Sean’s immediate return to David, decided that the transition period would he held in Brazil instead of New Jersey.

We took the news with a grain of salt. While it is great that David could spend a lot more time with his son without any interference from the “dark side”, we also knew how impratical it is for him to have to spend long periods of time in a country where he does not speak the language, have a work visa or know his way around. He is being inconvenienced while the maternal family, who has more time and money, is not.

Meanwhile, everybody is waiting for the final decision, which I still hope will be positive. I have a feeling that after the transition period and after David has spent time with Sean down there, they will let both come home finally. To be continued…

A few days later, we were shocked to see a transcript of an interview made by a PUC (Catholic University in Rio) psychologist, friends with the family, who interviewed Sean Goldman. The family one more time exploited the boy to get what they wanted: cheap emotionalism. Sean was cowered into saying he did not want to live with his father or either see him. I can only imagine how hurtful it must have been for David to read those lines, after all the sacrifice he has made for Sean, the trips, the gifts, the hugs and “I love yous”.

Talk about parental alienation at its finest.

One day later we were stunned to hear that Judge Pinto, the hand behind the 82 page document detailing parental alienation and Sean’s immediate return to David, decided that the transition period would he held in Brazil instead of New Jersey.

We took the news with a grain of salt. While it is great that David could spend a lot more time with his son without any interference from the “dark side”, we also knew how impratical it is for him to have to spend long periods of time in a country where he does not speak the language, have a work visa or know his way around. He is being inconvenienced while the maternal family, who has more time and money, is not.

Meanwhile, everybody is waiting for the final decision, which I still hope will be positive. I have a feeling that after the transition period and after David has spent time with Sean down there, they will let both come home finally. To be continued…

June 24, 2009 Posted by | Activism | 1 Comment

Candlelight vigil in DC for Sean Goldman

SeanIt was a moving effort and there was a sense of communion to know that so many people in so many different cities and countries around the world were also lighting candles for Sean to be reunited with his father. In Washington DC we were 12 people who are sympathizers of David Goldman. We stood in front of the Brazilian Embassy which is at the same street where Hillary Clinton lives.

June 17, 2009 Posted by | Activism | Leave a comment

Some reasons why Sean Goldman is still in Brazil

What interferes with Sean Goldman’s return to Brazil:

1) The Brazilian family has used its connections and local power to get what they want in the Rio family courts and even at the Federal level. In other words, corruption.

2) The fear Globo journalists as well as other media outlets have of retaliation from the Lins e Silva (fear of a lawsuit).

3) The xenophobia that has taken over Brazil in a wide spectrum, nearly resembling an extreme nationalism a la Mussolini. Some Brazilian politicians linked to the Brazilian family have even tried to say the country’s constitution trumps the international convention. Brazilians are extremely touchy about sovereignity. Its history as a former Portuguese colony, a sense of inferiority towards the USA and its relative geographic isolation has incensed xenofobia, particularly towards Americans. Brazilians still love and admire the old continent, Europe.

4) An old fashioned view that only the mother should take care of the children. For decades, the Brazilian male, especially during colonial times barely knew their children.

5) The perverse and deep classism in Society. It is ok to keep someone else’s child because you have loads of money? If that is so, than Bill Gates has the right to kidnap other peoples’s kids!

6) The family’s interference not only in the judiciary but with politicians like Senator Dornelles and Senator Sarney, who are close friends of the Lins e Silva, and left wing policiticians who were “brothers in arms” with Guta, the 60’s terrorist who helped kidnap an American ambassador and who was Bruna’s aunt. Guta died last April.

7) President Lula’s innaction, washing his hands off the case, possibly due to his friendship with José Dirceu, Fernando Gabeira, Tarso Genro, José Vannucci, etc, leftish politicians who do not like the United States one bit.

8) The case touches some people deeply but not others. Some people unfortunately still see it as a custody case instead of a country disrespecting the Hague Convention which it is a signatory. Some others say: “there are more important issues in the world right now, such as what’s happening in Iran”. Sure, but we can still feel appalled at the injustice of this case.

June 17, 2009 Posted by | Activism | 1 Comment

Update on the Sean Goldman case

vergonha

  The last few months of my life have been consumed with the Sean Goldman case. There are so many reasons I decided to become an activist in this case:

1) I am a new empty nester. Therefore, more time on my hands.

2) The sheer unfairness of this case stroke a chord with me. I was able to empathize with the father’s pain being a parent myself.

3) Bruna Carneiro Ribeiro was from a similar background I am from: upper middle classs Brazilian. I know all the traps and the worldview of coming from that kind of background.

4) I could effectively help. I knew my Portuguese skills and my knowledge of the Brazilian society and Brazilian history could be useful to David’s friends. Additionally, like some other Brazilian-Americans helping the cause, we know BOTH societies and languages well, which gives us a better understanding of each reality.

5) I was also married to a foreigner and we moved many times, from city to city, and it amazes me that Bruna was not mature enough to trust her husband and make plans with HIM.

I have never met David, but I felt sincerity in his words. I watched the home videos and it was clear as water this is a father who deeply loved his son and was over the moon with happiness in being Sean’s father.

This was all taken away from him, because of the ignorance, fear and cowardice of his wife and her parents. Bruna was not fully aware of the law. She she should have known she could have joint custody of Sean and that if she decided to live in Rio, David could even try to make an arrangment with her.  Even if she knew, she was too scared to try doing things the legal way.

She did not try to save her marriage. She did not try to talk to her husband. Why she did not sit with her husband and explain to him how she felt about life in New Jersey is beyond me. If she loved him, obviously she would have tried to work something out that included him.

She was probably one of these people who internalize their feelings and only share them with their mother or a best friend. Clearly David was not her best friend, or she could have shared with him her unhappiness about living in New Jersey and how the 3 of them could try to live in Rio.

That is what happens when a mother does not let her daughter grow up and live her own life and make her own decisions. Silvana Bianchi, of Italian descent, seemed to be overpowering. She probably fed into her daughter’s disatisfaction with life in the US. She probably did not tell her daughter to work things out with her husband. She probably meddled with her daughter’s marriage, a mistake many mothers-in-law make, hence their bad reputation. But let’s not forget Bruna’s father, who also condoned all the her actions. 

Apparently they were against Bruna marrying David from day one. The idea of a daughter marrying a “model” is not very well received for many upper class Brazilians. Even in America, there is a bit of misconception about male models.

The big mystery in this case is whether Bruna was already communicating with her future husband, João Paulo Lins e Silva, before her planned escape to Rio. Email makes it very easy. JP was recently divorced, and they had had a fling in the past. It is not hard to imagine that she saw in him, with momma’s blessings, a ticket to a better life-and a famous last name. This may explain why BRUNA NEVER GAVE DAVID A CHANCE.  Her mind was already made up. No amount of conversation from David would make her want to stay with him, because ultimately, it was not about New Jersey, but about the fact she did not want to be married to him anymore. And it had nothing to do with him as a person, but the fact that a chance presented itself for her to have a better life, while at the same time pleasing her parents. Life in sunny Rio with her family’s support and a high society husband seemed easier and less stressful.

Bruna might have not studied fashion in Rio and then later Milan with the thought of competing in that tough and competitive job market. She might have gone to College to kill time until she found a husband. Fashion, Art, History, Languages, etc are Humanities that do not involve sleepless nights of studying. That is how many Brazilian women from my generation, older and younger, were raised: get a “husband-chasing degree”.  Then expect a man to take care of you, while you can earn money for “fun”. 

David did not become the big bucks model she expected. JPLeS was young, cute and from a “good family”. He was the perfect catch, and with momma’s blessing, she decided to throw away David like an old pair of slippers.

Mistakes happened, and now everyone involved with the case suffers. The errors of the past must be corrected now. Sean must be returned to David as soon as possible, so less damage is done to his pysche. The mother’s family has proved to have no knowledge of child psychology, exposing him to a conflict and a life drama that his 9 year old brain is not prepared to understand. They also tried to tarnish his beloved father’s image, with whom the boy was extremely close with in 2004, by portraying him as a menacing foreigner in his eyes.  Fortunately, it seems the damage has not been 100%, since Sean was obviously affectionate and realxed during David’s first visit with him. Additionally, Sean may have some memory left of his first formative years.

In March we protested in front of the White House where Obama was meeting the President of Brazil, Luiz Inacio “Lula” da Silva. We thought that with Obama’s knowledge of the case and Hillary Clinton’s clear support, it would be just a matter of days for Sean to be returned to his father.

We had good signs here and there. One piece of news that gave us hope was when a judge denied the maternal family’s request to return the case of State courts instead of the Federal level. The Step-father’s family had a lot more control over the State courts, where they reign.

That was followed by the interviews made by court-appointed child psychologists, who interviewed Sean. We were shocked to hear that these interviews had been spilled by the maternal family to the press, emphasizing the boy’s comments that he did not want to be sent to the US.

Any person with a mininum common sense knows that if you lie to a child and you are the authority figure, this child will believe in you. One example is the sniper who terrorized Washington DC in September of 2001, who brainwashed a 17 year old into thinking they had to kill all those who were against them.

If Sean’s grandmother, grandfather, uncle and step-father are all telling him his father abandoned him, that his father was bad to his mother, that his father only wants their money and that the place his father lives is horrible the boy will believe every word they say, just like a child this age still believes in monsters and ghosts at his doorstep at night. Parental alienation is a horrible and cruel crime.

When the child psychologists’ reports became public, it concluded that Sean had been victim of parental alienation. As sad as learning that was, it gave us hope that finally the public opinion would be enraged enough and that the pressure on politicians and judges would also be overwhelming.

The public opinion was majorly pro-David, in every blog, newspaper and website both in the US and in Brazil. However, the LeS and the Carneiro Ribeiros, who even became known as the “Famiglia’ or the “Dark Side”, for the manipulations and machinations, used every little dirty trick up their sleeves to deter and stall the judicial proceedings.

I remember the day and time I heard the good news that the Supreme Court had authorized Sean to return to his father. It was a Monday where I had had an early morning meeting, was exhausted and had decided to go home earlier than the usual 8 PM and enjoy the sun on my backyard.

I had my iPhone with me, and checked the BringSeanHome.org site under the late afternoon sun, and there it was: “Breaking News: Judge decides that Sean is to be returned to his father”. Wow, what a happy moment. It was almost surreal, after the thousands of emails and postings in websites for several months, the endless frustration with the “Famiglia” and the constant attacks by their camp in several forums and blogs.

Everyone who followed the BringSeanHome.org website rejoiced. David was going to leave immediately, probably dropping whatever he was doing, to run to the airport. I could only imagine how relieved and hopeful he was inside. The document produced by Judge Pinto was an 82 page document beautifully covering every aspect of this case, proving parental alienation and recommending Sean’s return to the USA and to this father in 48 hours.

David arrived Tuesday morning in Rio. Rumors of appeals from the “dark side” abounded, and we knew they probably had them ready to go. On the other hand, the 82 page document produced by Judge Pinto was so complete, so air-tight, that we thought there was no way anyone would accept an appeal.

Tuesday night my husband and I were looking at all the happy posts on BringSeanHome.org when I saw another “Breaking news” post. For a moment I thought it was a repetition of yesterday’s news, but my husband pointed out that it said “Judge STAYED the decision”. And there it was: apparently, an obscure political party, called the Progressive Party (a right wing libertarian party), was able to file a motion against Judge Pinto’s decision. The president of the party is a Senator who has close links to the the Carneiro Ribeiro’s, Bruna’s family.  The Progressive Party wanted Brazil to get out of the Hague Convention, just in time for Sean to stay in Brazil. How convenient is that, to change the law when it is not working your way?

A judge from the Brazilian Supreme Court, Judge Marco Aurelio Mello, accepted this motion, and went on national television to say that the “boy’s wishes had not been respected”. That’s all fine and dandy if the boy was 15 and not a victim of DIAGNOSED parental alienation. And should we add, Stockholm Syndrome.

The twists and turns of this case will make for a very good Hollywood movie. Political intrigue and personal liaisons abound.  Bruna’s aunt was Maria Augusta Carneiro Ribeiro (nickname Guta), the only woman from a 60’s guerrilla group which fought agains the military regime, many times using  some form of violence, amongst them, the kidnapping of the American Ambassador in those days. The United States was accused of aligning itself with the military dictatorship Brazil went through in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s.

It turns out that with Lula’s presidency, many former extreme left guerrilla members are now in power. Even though Lula himself does not have any guerrilla background (he was an Union leader and then Worker’s party president), he had to accomodate the old leftish staples in his government; after all, they helped Democracy come back to the country.

It turned out that the Minister of Human Rights, Paulo Vannucci, who started showing more and more signs of non-compliance with The Hague Convention, was Guta’s “brother in arms” from the guerilla days. He innapropriately called for a “town hall” meeting at the  House of Representatives, where only the “Dark side” was represented. One lucid and excellent speaker defended David’s case, urging Brazil to return Sean to his rightful father: Representative Paes de Lira. Guta and Paulo Vannucci’s connection became public, showing everyone that David was fighting against one of the most influential and powerful families in Brazil, every way you looked.

A sense of entitlement and class permeates every comment made in every blog where the family or their accolytes write. They constantly put down David Goldman for not being rich, as if money was the only criteria that made parents be good parents. Their obsession with money is palpable, and one of the their worries is that David would have access to Sean’s inheritance, which David has publicly renounced to (and would never have rights to, as anyone with a minimum knowledge of inheritance laws knows).

Their hatred of David is probably due to the fact that David brought this case to light. David was not content in just using the slow justice system in Brazil. When he met Mark D’Angelo, who sympathized with his plight and decided to help him, the website Bring Sean Home came to fruition. At that moment the internet was a huge catalyst in making this case be known internationally. Before that, the Lins e Silva and the grandparents wished the case would stay quiet, so they could continue their abducting in peace.

As a Brazilian, I am ashamed about this turn of events. It shows a country that does not respect human rights. The alienable right to raise your own children. Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) proposed to the House that sanctions be made against Brazil. As much it hurts me to see my fellow Brazilians affected because of this selfish family’s acts, I think that something more than talks behind closed doors with Foreign Ministers should be done.

As it stands now, 11 judges from the STF (the Brazilian Supreme Court) should make a decision whether to accept the motion made by the Progressive Party or not.  We are in suspense again. To be continued….

June 8, 2009 Posted by | Activism | 13 Comments