Thursday, November 05, 2009

"The Snatchback"

Yesterday, while looking for something on a completely different subject, I came across this article in The Atlantic, about a guy who had to kidnap his son out of Costa Rica from his biological father. It's a bit long, but compelling, so I'll wait while you go ahead and read it.

Whistles. Twiddles thumbs.

Done? Good. Ok, there are some things about this story that just don't add up to me. The father, Jason, did not have custody of Andres when Andres and his mother, Helen, came to Costa Rica. In fact, Todd secured an injunction against Jason to retrieve his son. But the Siquirres police wouldn't take Andres out of the home, saying they didn't have that authority:
So Todd got an injunction from a San José court ordering Jason to surrender Andres, and he and Helen accompanied the Costa Rican police when they went to Jason’s office to deliver it. Jason still refused to relinquish Andres, and Todd says the police told him that they didn’t have the right under Costa Rican law to enter Jason’s home and take the boy.
I call bullshit. Now, to me, what Jason did is kidnapping. Sure, he's the biological father of Andres, but Andres was raised by Todd and Helen. They were his parents. Jason did not have custody of Andres. So how in the hell did the Siquirres police not do anything about it? Do you mean to tell me that if a child has been kidnapped, you know who did it, you go with the police to the kidnapper's door, and the kidnapper says, No, I'm not handing the kid over, the police can just walk away? Oh. Hell. No.

At that point, why didn't Todd and Helen get, at the very minimum, the PANI and/or the OIJ involved? Surely they both have the authority to remove the child from the home if the police are too pussy to do it. (And, as an aside, pretty much everywhere in Costa Rica, the police are next-to-worthless. If you really need something important done, go to the OIJ.) Instead, Todd spends a ridiculous sum of money ($25,000 iirc) to get his son out of the country. Granted, I'd do it too, if it were my son. I'd spend every last cent I had, and then go find more. But I think the whole surreptitious snatching Andres back could have been avoided if he'd have tried other avenues than simply the local police (not making any accusations here, but sounds like something else was going on there, you know what I mean?).

Well, at any rate, I'm glad it all ended well and that Andres is back with Todd in the U.S. To me, family is what you make it. Blood ain't always thicker than water.

(I'll grant that this story is fairly one-sided, from Todd and somewhat Helen's point of view. La Teja apparently also wrote an article about the case, but since they couldn't even be bothered to spell Todd's last name correctly, and in general seem to be more concerned with photographing women's big butts than anything else, that "paper" would be the last place I'd turn for reliable information. I also found this article from, but it's basically just a rehashing of The Atlantic's piece. Apparently no other newspaper in Costa Rica gave a shit, sadly.)

P.S. Mr. Hopson? I'm glad you got your son back, I truly am, but please don't call my country third-world. Sure, parts of it look like Appalacia, but the politically correct terms are "developing" and "developed" countries. Saying Costa Rica is third-world just makes you look like a rich asshole. Maybe you should visit some truly "third-world" countries before throwing terms like that around. Just sayin'.

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