Day 64; It’s not Kansas

By Robert Mark on December 1st, 2006

In the past few weeks, almost every aviation organization in the United States has asked the Brazilian government to let Joe LePore and Jan Paladino come home. The two U.S. pilots have been detained in Brazil for 64 days since the midair collision in September between their Embraer Legacy and a Boeing 737 over the rainforest.

Although it took quite a while to mobilize some in the aviation community, the unified call for action must be heartwarming to the two men.

Some of the calls for release referenced various rules of law, others treaties to which both America and Brazil are signatories, while another used more simple wording calling upon Brazil to be fair to the pilots.

All of the statements have stopped short of demanding anything from the Brazilians however, which is a good thing.Speculation began this week that the two pilots might be freed in the next few weeks. At this point, any talk of release is just that, speculation, much of it from North America as people interpret the news from South America.

As one Jetwhine reader said, although he also believes holding the two pilots has little to do with the merits of the crash investigation, the two men do serve a significant political purpose to much of the Brazilian public, especially those who lost family and friends in the crash. And to many people in Brazil, the safety aspects of the crash investigation are not nearly as important as finding someone to point the finger at.

With the sorry state of the ATC system in Brazil, it certainly helps to have as many people as possible take their eyes off that ball and focus on those two potential criminals sitting around in a Five-Star hotel sipping cool drinks while the locals try to move past death of 154 of their friends.

The legal system in Brazil is not the legal system we are used to here in the U.S. and it’s time we realize that as well. We think the judge should focus on fixing the ATC problem that seems likely to be the cause of the accident in Brazil. Down there, the judge is focused on covering for the ATC system, himself and even the military while he also tries to appease those angry families. And that judge answers to the Brazilian constitution which trumps a treaty every time.

If Jan and Joe come home soon, I’ll be cheering like many other Americans.

But if they don’t see the states for awhile, and my gut is beginning to tell me they may not, it’s because of a simple fact. The Brazilian legal system sees more value in holding these two men than it does to let them go free. And that decision will have little or nothing to do with why those two airplanes met over the rainforest at 37,000 feet.

If they continue to hold Joe and Jan, we should absolutely continue to voice our outrage at the Brazilian government’s action.

Let’s just not be too surprised if the Brazilian judge isn’t listening. He doesn’t have to. And there is very little the U.S. government can do about it. 

Related Posts:

Comments are closed.

Subscribe without commenting