Uma lettera para Clara (#22)
The last days of August are here and summer is almost over. Mine was spent recovering from my operation – going for a morning walk each day, then exercises (pushups and squats and pull-ups), some yoga and stretching. I think I am almost fully back into the condition I was before, though I must now do my pushups at a little angle. But all things considered, things with me are quite well. We move back, for a month, to Ginosa in a few days, when the town will again be empty of the summer people. And so, quiet. We’ll just be there a month and then not sure.
So now, about the year 2001, after I’d left Lisboa having spent the month there – rainy and gray mostly – with the “legal right” to see you 3 hours each day, but during which I was able to see you only three times. Because your mother blocked me all the other days, and the Juvenile courts, who were fully informed, did nothing.
Also, in that month, your mother – against my protests to the court – shot the “kidnapping scene” for her film. I had requested of Paolo Branco to stop it, and my lawyer filed a petition in court to stop it. The courts said they could see nothing wrong with you being in – in the script – a violent kidnapping scene, in which you were to cry heavily as your fictional parents loudly argued and fought. They saw nothing wrong in this, though you had in reality been kidnapped two and a half months earlier, and their own juvenile social services had written that you were at that time traumatized from this! Apparently they all thought a fictional re-run would be something good for you. (On the day of this filming I somewhat accidentally found the place where this scene was shot, but naturally was not let anywhere near.)
Leaving, I was, needless to say depressed by the evident reality – that the juvenile legal system there did not care about the law at all, not the Hague Convention, not their own laws. It was clear the system was utterly corrupt.
On returning to Rome, working with my lawyer in Lisboa, and with another – working pro bono for me – in Rome, and I did what was possible within the legal system. As became clear in the following 6 months, this was a waste of time and energy and money: the Portuguese legal system was thoroughly corrupted, and acted in a manner transparently corrupt.
At the same time I began to compile the email addresses and contacts of government offices – the Judiciary, Executive and Parliament – as well as of the press in Lisboa. And I began to contact them in an attempt to secure your (and my) legal rights. I will in the following letters re-print some of those – to the Procurador Geral, the Minister of Justice, the President of the time. I was, at that time, told by some acquaintances, as well as some Lisboa reporters, that while more or less everyone in Portugal knew the government and judiciary was corrupt, it was taboo to say so out loud, perhaps something culturally implanted during the long dictatorship of Salazar. He was gone some time, but internally it seemed he still lived inside most people, who dared not to say out loud what they knew. To speak of corruption then simply was not done. I did it.
I spent the months from January to August without being able to talk with you on the telephone, with no information about you, where you were living, and without a word from Teresa, who has sent her last email, printed here.
Being fully honest with you, I spent all those months working each day on trying to find a way to secure your rights, and your return to your proper home.
I arranged then, 6 long months later, to again visit Lisboa, for a scheduled hearing on custody. I will write next to you about that visit.
Meantime I hope you had a wonderful summer. I assume you will be going to school – to which, to study what (in the arts it would seem), and all that – well, I do not know but I’d like to. You can write me anytime – here, or on Facebook, or as you wish.
Amo-te Clarinha !