It is impossible not to admire the nobility and courage it took for our diplomat in Bolivia, Eduardo Saboia, to bring Senator Roger Pinto Molina to Brazil, after the senator had been in a self-imposed exile 15 months in our embassy in La Paz.
In the past, other Brazilian diplomats dared to contradict the authorities of the Foreign
Ministry. In France, Ambassador Luis Martins de Souza Dantas had issued hundreds of
visas to Brazil for those persecuted by the Nazis.
Even after being formally reprimanded and forbidden to grant visas, he signed
documents in his own handwriting, dating them prior to the ban. At the same time in
Hamburg, the vice-consul and Brazilian writer João Guimarães Rosa also acted in good
faith by granting visas for Jews to enter Brazil.
But this is not advocating breaking the hierarchy, as was done in the past, nor is it an
attempt to compare it the horrors of the Holocaust. I just want to point out that, in
extreme situations, the diplomat must resort to his own conscience.
It should be noted that the former ambassador, Marcel Biato, had granted asylum
to Molina, enforcing this international law. And the senator had to seek asylum for
denouncing corruption in the government of his country. He dared to do what many do
not have the courage to do.
In response, he won a judicial "lawsuit" typical of "Bolivian socialists " who treat the
opposition as if they were criminals. It is the criminalization of politics, carried out by
officials who fail to nurture respect for democracy and civil rights.
We must remember, too, that there is an extensive list of diplomatic incidents in
the relationship between Brazil and Bolivia. Just to name two episodes: the military
occupation of a refinery of Petrobras and the inspection of three Brazilian Air Force
planes, including one which was carrying our defense minister.
And it's good to say that Senator Molina is not a fugitive in Brazil. He was taken from
Bolivia in an operation conducted by the Brazilian consulate. What is expected now is
not that different from the fate Cesare Battisti had when he got permission to stay in
Brazil, even with an extradition request approved by the Supreme Court.
When he was brought to the country, Molina had been in confined to a cubicle at the
Brazilian embassy for nearly 500 days, without the right to sunlight and in a condition
of physical and mental deterioration. This was very different from the royal treatment
given to the former Honduran president, Manuel Zelaya when he spent four months in
exile in our embassy in Tegucigalpa.
Some can withstand more, others less. If Molina threatened to commit suicide, it was
because he had exhausted his resources. We simply must put ourselves in another's
shoes in order to better understand their dramatic condition.
The diplomat, Eduardo Saboia, witnessed the drama of the senator. No one better
than him to decide what to do, given his proximity to the situation and the lack of
If he made a humanitarian decision, it was made in respect to the human rights upheld
by our government. If the Foreign Ministry was not observing these rights, one of its
diplomats chose to, even putting lives at risk.
With determination, he followed higher values. He did not accept the bureaucratic
routine based on omission, although this omission itself may have been a decision. He
did everything he could until finally arriving in Brazilian territory.
* This article was published originally at Folha de S. Paulo, Brazil