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Brazil Won’t Let My Boat Out, the US Won’t Let My Brazilian Wife In

The author's boat, the Roamdeep The author's boat, the Roamdeep

The author's boat, the Roamdeep I received my visa (#A 1416275) to Brazil in Trinidad on October 6, 2002. I entered the country through the Port of Cabedelo, in the northeastern state of Paraíba, in my boat, the Roamdeep. On March 3, 2003, while the crew was going to Prague to renew their visas, the Roamdeep was boarded and robbed by three persons, Daniel Williams, Rafael Williams and a person known to me as The White Cat.

They took an estimated US$ 10,000 worth of equipment from the boat. The next day I went to the police chief in Cabedelo, Dr. Alberto do Ezito de Sousa. I reported to him what had happened. I was told by him in front of two witnesses that I would have to pay him US$ 1,500 to open the case. I left without giving him any money.

I called the US Embassy in Recife, Pernambuco state, and talked to Ms. Maureen Smith, the Vice Consul. She told me that the embassy does not get involved in civil matters. So I tried to call the FBI and never received a reply.

I ended up going to Dr. Melonasa of the Mayor's office in João Pessoa for help. He sent me to Dr. Comberto of the special police squad to help me solve the robbery of the Roamdeep. I knew who committed the crime, when they did it, and where they were selling the stolen items.

I had to translate all the stolen property into Portuguese, and I had to provide receipts for all the property that was stolen from the Roamdeep. I complied with all their requests and returned all the documentation to Dr. Comberto.

The case went to court March 23, 2003. I had eight witnesses for my case. I also had Dr. Comberto's testimony. He went to the suspects' homes and caught them with the stolen property. He also caught the people that were buying the stolen property. The report I received stated the judge released the suspects and closed the case.

For my trouble in trying to solve this matter, I was deported from Brazil on July 26, 2003.

Before I left Brazil, I went to the Captain of Ports, Kleber Pessek and showed him the letter from Cabedelo Náutica Ltda. I and informed him of my deportation. There had been some damage to the Roamdeep, so the Captain informed me where at the anchorage to place the boat.

The letter that I received from him states that it was all right for me to leave the Roamdeep in Brazil. My captain, my Brazilian wife and I along with 2 other Brazilians placed the Roamdeep where the Captain told us. I shut all the seacocks, all fuel valves, locked the boat up and gave the keys to my wife. From there, I went to the United States.

Upon my arrival in the United States, I immediately went to the Brazilian Consulate in Houston, Texas. I spoke to Mr. Américo who informed me that I would not be allowed to return to Brazil for six months. At that point, I showed him the letter from the Captain, the police report and my marriage license. He, in turn, said that I should have never been deported.

My wife and the Roamdeep's captain, complied with all the Port Captain's requests. Nevertheless, less than 30 days later, he filed papers with the Ministério da Fazenda stating that the Roamdeep was abandoned. At that point, my wife called me to inform me that Captain Kleber Pessek was seizing the boat.

After I received this information, I went back to the Brazilian Consulate in Houston. I spoke with Milton Torres da Silva. He then called the Captain of Ports in Brazil but was told to quit interfering with the Brazilian Navy's business. On September 23, 2003, a I got a new Brazilian visa.

I left for Brazil two days later. Upon my arrival in Brazil, the Federal Police took me into custody. I was taken to a holding cell, and I was stripped of my clothing. I sat in this cell naked for 17 hours until they were informed that my visa was not forged.

Upon my release, I went to João Pessoa, the capital of Paraíba state, and met with Tereza Adelia Naked. She informed me that the reason the Roamdeep was being seized was due to abandonment. I showed her my passport, where it shows that I was deported, on July 26, 2003. I then hired an attorney, and we went to court.

Upon leaving the courts, I was handed an Auto de Infração. I went to the Captain of the Ports, and they seized the Roamdeep for 1500 reais (US$ 707) in fines.

I believe all of the fines were bogus because the Brazilian boats in the anchorage had the same issues for which I was fined. The Captain and his replacement told me "two wrongs don't make a right."

The date of the Infração is 18/11/2003 at which point the Roamdeep had been in the Navy's custody for over 40 days tied to the dock in Cabedelo where it had been robbed at least two more times.

Then the Captain of Ports placed a Navy guard on board, and they each took a piece of the Roamdeep with them. It was not until the Navy knew I was back in the country that they filed a police report. I took pictures of the Roamdeep when I returned to Brazil.

The Navy's report shows several things that were taken, but on their original inventory, nine other items are missing that were on board when I took the pictures. By this time, the Roamdeep had been stripped of everything that could be taken – electrical wire, light fixtures, plumbing fixtures, blinds, motor oil, etc.

Then on March 30, 2004, a new reason was given as to why the Roamdeep was seized. In this order, the Captain of Ports, Marcello Lima de Oliveira, says the Roamdeep was taken to avert a natural disaster. They say it was in danger of sinking. By this time, the Roamdeep had been in the Brazilian Navy's custody for seven months. So far the Navy, Brazil and the Receita Federal have changed their stories several times on the Roamdeep.

By international law, a vessel needing repair can stay in the port of foreign land to make repairs without fear of deportation, and Brazilian law says that a person shall receive a letter of intent of fine or seizure 30 days before it can take place. It also says that no equipment shall remain in the country without the owner being present to be responsible.

So far, I have not been given due process of law. The fine from Receita Federal is US$ 7,500. The dock fee, towing fee and guard are still up in the air. I offered to pay out the fine, but José Ricardo Felix Alves refused and said I had to pay it all at one time, and I had 3 working days to do so.

Plus I had to pay the fines to the Navy in full and was not able to move the Roamdeep from the dock until the boat would pass a marine safety inspection by the Brazilian Navy safety officer. Also I would not be able to live on the boat while I was working on it and would have to pay the Brazilian Navy to guard it and pay dock fees.

As of right now, I do not know where they have taken the Roamdeep. They have refused to make any statement on this matter. I have been told that it has not been sold, but no one knows where the Roamdeep is. So I went to the US embassy to get a visa for my wife to enter the United States.

She and I were told "No" because we have no value. Our value lies in the Roamdeep and the business we are able to do with the Roamdeep. I had to come to the US without her, and if the law holds, she will not be able to come here for three years.

To add another insult, my dog, that I have had for 14 years, was not allowed to come back as Brazil wants me to have an Animal Export License to bring back the dog I took from the United States to Brazil before this all began.

And yet the Yacht Club and boating world of Brasil are still telling boaters they can keep their boats in Brazil for two years without paying any taxes. Please tell people the truth.

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