I wrote this in August 2010. This title remains the same, only now it is August 2012. And we are new hostages to the failure of Brazilian justice. To update yourselves on our complicated story, please go to the August 3rd, 2010 issue of Brazzil.com.
Here's the link for the previous piece: http://www.brazzil.com/articles/223-august-2010/10413-our-ship-sank-off-brazils-coast-in-march-2007-we-are-still-here-held-hostage.html
What is really holding us hostage is the glaring lack of enforcement of Brazilian law. There is a judicial system here operating in a vacuum, therefore meaningless. I don't pretend to be a legal expert, especially in a country that is not my native country nor is Portuguese my native language.
However, all I can conclude is the system is broken, going around and around in circles, a travesty of what rule of law means, a system so ineffective that it really encourages abuse of the worst kind.
We waited the entire year of 2010 for the higher court (segunda instância) to decide on Luiz Prado's (managing partner of the RENAMAN/SAPECA boatyard) appeal of the lower court's decision in December 2009. They denied his appeal and this means our opponent, who sued us in the first place, lost.
Therefore we paid the 8 reais (US$ 4) fine the lower court had imposed on us and that should have been that. Our boat, our property, our home should have been returned to us. It wasn't. It still hasn't been.
With new lawyers, we filed a new petition, requesting the new sitting judge (titular) to rule that Lord Jim be returned to the water safely and in conditions of navigability. In his favorable ruling on July 14, 2011, the judge also included a deadline of thirty days and a fixed fine of 50,000 (US$ 25,000) reais if Luiz Prado didn't co-operate.
They, the enemy, Luiz Prado and his lawyer son, Flávio Prado, did two things. First they petitioned the judge to extend the deadline to 90 days, a very reasonable request, to which the judge agreed. At the same time, they filed an Interlocutory (interim) appeal called an Agravo de Instrumento to the higher court requesting that the decision made by the lower court judge be reversed and that they - Luiz Prado and RENAMAN/SAPECA boatyard - be freed from any responsibility for putting Lord Jim into conditions of navigability, launching her safely and paying the fixed fine of 50,000 reais.
Luiz Prado and his lawyer son, Flávio Prado, got caught in their own tracks, once again it seems. For one, they filed their Agravo carelessly, ignoring required procedures, and therefore were forced to withdraw their appeal on grounds of legal negligence.
Immediately they petitioned the sitting judge with a "Notification" consisting of a document notarized by a local notary business which implied that Luiz Prado/RENAMAN/SAPECA wished to comply with the order of the judge, a complete reversal in their tactics up until now.
The boatyard would launch Lord Jim well within the 90 day time frame conceded by this judge. The soonest dates for high water which Lord Jim's deep keel requires for launching fell between October 24 and 27, 2011.
Flávio Prado went to speak (despachar) with the judge and convinced him of his father's goodwill, which in fact was an act of premeditated deception on their part. Flávio Prado represented to the judge that the boat was ready to go into the water, floatable and navigable at this time, when the truth was no repairs or maintenance of any nature by the boatyard had taken place whatsoever since the work of rebuilding the hull was completed by the end of the year 2008.
Without a doubt, Lord Jim would have sunk directly in front of the slipway if she had been launched at this time. Clearly, this is Luiz Prado's goal, to destroy our property and therefore us. And these people present themselves as model citizens, upstanding members of their community, churchgoers to boot.
One of our lawyers, who is more local rather than from Rio, was propitiously on top of this new situation and with our other two lawyers, went to see (despachar) the judge on the very same day he (the judge) had written his decision in favor of launching Lord Jim on the high water time schedule Flávio Prado had recommended.
In bad faith, Flávio Prado consciously concealed the fact that no work had been done to put Lord Jim into conditions of navigability, as the judge had originally ordered. Flávio Prado, an officer of the court, had stood lying before the judge, shamelessly deceiving and misleading him, making a fool out of him, and therefore the Brazilian judicial system itself. This wasn't the first time or the last.
In Portuguese, the word for deceive and defraud is "enganar" and it fits this duo perfectly.
An example which will help explain why we haven't gone out and hired private contractors to get work Lord Jim needs completed is because we know Luiz Prado will, in the end, sabotage, the boat. In 2007, we had hired a mechanic recommended by Luiz Prado and paid him (the mechanic) in advance two thirds of his bill for the rebuild of our main engine.
Long before the mechanic could complete his job, Luiz Prado prohibited his entry into the boatyard. This was in July 2007 and, to this day, he is still keeping pressure on our mechanic, who lives right down the road from us and our boat, to not complete the engine job.
Our lawyers quickly submitted another petition on October 20th reasserting our original stipulations that the boat be returned to conditions of floatability and navigability with a new addition: that all the repairs RENAMAN/SAPECA need to make for Lord Jim to be seaworthy be overseen and approved of by the Brazilian Navy, which is the authoritative entity that administers all maritime matters in Brazil.
The judge immediately approved our requests and also instructed by letter to the Navy Commander whose jurisdiction is our district, Mangaratiba, to urgently verify the current conditions of the boat and the boatyard's equipment.
The judge designated the Navy responsible ultimately for the seaworthiness of the boat and her safe launching into the water. The naval officers came the next day (October 21) to the RENAMAN/SAPECA boatyard and completed an inspection of the premises and Lord Jim and subsequently submitted their list of repairs for the boat to the court.
Of course, another petition by Flávio Prado, lawyer/son of entrepreneur/land shark Luiz Prado, was filed raving to the judge that he is being lied to by us, made a fool of by us and that Lord Jim has been dry-docked for so long that the boatyard is losing money since they have to pay for a night guard and cannot use our slip for more business while we are still occupying it.
Actually the yard has 8 other slips and the night guard is protecting the other boats which are hauled out in them. Luiz Prado's boatyard business has not stopped by any means due to the fact that he has been holding Lord Jim hostage.
These endless petitions which this father-son team keep filing against us in bad faith are mindboggling in the myriad convoluted assertions they make, none of which are based on fact, at least, the particular assertions that refer to their innocence and our culpability.
How do we know how to manipulate a justice system of a country we are not native to not to mention the fact that neither my husband nor myself spoke one word of Portuguese upon our arrival to Brazil in October 2006.
In the Brazilian judicial system the modus operandi is basically once one side has entered a petition the other side should enter one as well. And this activity goes on ad infinitum. Every judicial decision can be appealed, forever. Our lawyers wrote a brilliant 13 point petition conveying so explicitly and concisely that Luiz Prado and his lawyer/son shamelessly used the justice system to try to deceive the judge, to mislead and trick him in broad daylight, conducting themselves in utter bad faith.
On December 15, 2011, the last day in session before the courts recessed for the Christmas holidays, the judge handed down the following decision:
a) the fixed fine of 50.000 reais is to be paid now
b) all the work designated necessary by the Navy must be completed in a new timeframe which the judge will determine, and once determined, if the work is not carried out in that timeframe, a daily fine of 30,000 reais will commence.
c) notification of the Prosecutor's Office for eventual investigation of the commission of a crime.
d) the issuance of an arrest warrant for disobedience, contempt of court, against the manager of the RENAMAN/SAPECA boatyard.
This order was published on January 27, 2012 and therefore irrevocably the judge's final decision. The subpoena was delivered and signed on February 14, 2012 by the husband of Luiz Prado's partner Daisy Meanda, Salvador Rodrigues, who now has become Luiz Prado's fall guy, his dupe; actually his guilty scapegoat as we were soon to find out.
Holger and I started this year (2012) with so much hope and lots of good energy. We thought we would be able to get going on all the work which poor Lord Jim needs done due to these years of pretty thorough neglect, more than 3 years of being held hostage.
We really believed we would get our boat, our property, back into our possession and into the water where she belongs. We really believed we had the law unquestionably on our side. We had such a strong judicial decision in our favor, that our property would certainly be returned to us in a condition whereby our boat is floating and can maneuver on her own. Then we could take her to a safe location to complete her restoration.
We still didn't understand the reality that the legal system in Brazil doesn't work, that it is broken. It doesn't work for any one, that is, anyone who is honest.
Now it is August 2012 and Lord Jim is still held prisoner in the same dry slip in the Estaleiro RENAMAN/SAPECA, Mangaratiba, Rio de Janeiro, none of the work ordered to make her seaworthy having taken place.
Salvador Rodrigues is now the acting general manager for RENAMAN/SAPECA boatyard, Luiz Prado's puppet. Cowardly Luiz Prado has removed himself from the scene of the crime, so to speak, since he must be afraid the police are coming to arrest him.
And the destruction of a beautiful historic sailing craft with a distinguished history and thousands of sea miles under her keel is inexorably proceeding right before our eyes. The decision of the judge is meaningless.
This man, Luiz Prado and his partner, Daisy Meanda with their company Estaleiro RENAMAN/SAPECA are seemingly above the law and do not have to obey ANY sentence of ANY court.
These Brazilians (who must hate us so much) won't quit in their keen mania to destroy our property and thereby us, since we haven't yet "disappeared" to let them steal Lord Jim the easy way. Luiz Prado and his son Flávio, continued to abuse the justice system by filing a Writ of Security (Mandado de Segurança) on February 28, 2012 against the judge himself, with the underlying insinuation being that the judge had been "coerced" and therefore unfair to Luiz Prado in his decision.
This Writ of Security is similar to a Writ of Mandamus and concerns the severe infringement on individual rights. The blatant arrogance and shameless disrespect of such a legal motion against a sitting judge is jarring to my concept of who and what judges are really supposed to be.
I'm sure I remain relatively idealistic and naive, especially when it comes to officers of the court here in Brazil. A Writ of Security is an extreme measure in any country where it is allowed, to protect individual human rights, therefore how alarming it is to digest the fact that Luiz Prado is claiming his rights have been denied!
What a sleight of hand he deals. What evil machinations he so easily fabricates. Luiz Prado (with the son certified as a lawyer) has an evil way to twist upside down the truth and desperately abuse the legal process to try to get what he wants, which is exoneration. Luiz Prado wants to get away scot free with extortion, fraud and theft of property among other crimes.
We are his victims, victims of unlimited vexatious litigation driven by his relentless misanthropy and unfettered greed. The Writ of Security was filed on February 28th to the higher court in Rio de Janeiro (Segunda Instâncía) where cases and their decisions proceed even more glacially than in the lower courts.
In any case, however these things come about, the decision was made and by June 13th once again Flávio Prado lost. The higher court not only denied the Writ of Security, it also emphasized that the decisions made in the lower court in our favor stand and are in active force.
With a daily fine equal to US$ 15,000 running since mid-March we are multi-millionaires. (And remember the bonus fixed fine long past due equal to US$25,000). These outrageous sums, which have become a local joke for those that know, will never be paid and we accept this easily as reality. The knock-your-breath-out-of-you tragedy is losing our beloved boat, our home, our means to make a living, our way of life, our passion.
The higher court decision on the Writ of Security was published June 25, 2012 in the official daily diary of the Court of Rio de Janeiro state. Luiz Prado remains in flagrant contempt of court, which is known here as disobedience and this week our attorneys submitted a petition to a new temporary judge in our lower court, for his arrest.
We await this decision if any. Lord Jim destroys a little bit more every day. Every day we go to see Lord Jim in her slip in Luiz Prado and Daisy Meanda's boatyard, RENAMAN/SAPECA.
Last week, we started a petition on AVAAZ.org and we welcome all of you whoever and wherever you are, to please sign: http://www.avaaz.org/en/petition/Free_LORD_JIM/ This petition will go to the Governor of the State, Sergio Cabral, and to the Marinha do Brasil, Capitania dos Portos, Itacuruçá, RJ.
In addition to my sailing career, I am a NAUI Dive Master and a documentary film producer. You may write me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.