Dear Chinyere,

Today I witnessed injustices you have been experiencing for over more than a year and four months, when your baby was taken away from you. This was meant to be a journalistic ‘objective’ piece...  but I cannot write it without expressing my feelings. Arriving at the tribunal, and looking at its walls, so cold and plagued with people in boxes and rooms that don't look like our spaces… rooms that for so many represent ‘Justice’.. broke my heart. That space doesn’t belong to us, you were not meant to be there. I saw you sitting, with peace  in one hand and tenacity in the other... holding both to get back your son.

One year and four months, since March 4, 2020. One year and four months without being able to hug, feed, nurture nor see your son grow as days pass by. One year and four months since the Puerto Rico Department of the Family and the SWAT arrived at your house and knocked at your door with a social worker that didn’t speak English, your main language. No interpreter. Today I saw the social worker testify and the negligences in the procedures were evident. Her judgements, prejudices and the racism of a system that has historically seen us as a threat, a system that separates us from our children based on social constructions that tell us: we are not able to take care of and protect our children. A system that tells us this skin, our skin, is condemned to trauma, generation after generation.

In this case, Puerto Rico Family Department has not fulfilled their responsibility to guarantee the wellbeing of our kids by making sure legal procedures in child abuse cases are handled with diligence. The Law establishes cases should be managed with diligence. But today, the social worker was not able to be specific about how many active cases she has. Under oath, sometimes she said she had 15 cases, in other moment, she said she had 35. In her testimony, she assured the Puerto Rico Department of Family has no interpreters and personnel qualified to work with families that don't speak Spanish as a main language. Language justice is not part of their protocols, nor their rules.

The diligence established by Puerto Rico Law 246 and the Family First Prevention Services Act, which seeks to prevent family separations, and provide support programs to caretakers, promoting minors stay, when possible, in their house or with family members, was absent. Instead of guaranteeing Messiah stayed with his family, the Puerto Rico Family Department kept Messiah in group Homes, in the midst of the global COVID-19 pandemic. The social worker said the parents never provided information about other family members who could take care of Messiah… I’m so glad, Chinyere, your lawyer presented evidence of all the approaches Messiah’s grandfather made to take care of his grandkid, but the Department, the regional supervisor and social worker, ignored his petitions, even when they were copied in the emails where he made the requests… requests to look after the survival of his grandkid.. In the midst of a pandemic.

When I heard the social worker alleging she hadn’t seen the email.. And that even after his petition had been discussed in a meeting…she did nothing… I understood that what has been missing in this case to take care of the wellbeing of the minor: is will power.

Chinyere, I can imagine how difficult this nightmare has been, in the midst of a pandemic. Not being able to visit your son… Because one of the employees of the Home where he was drawn to had COVID. To interrupt your breastfeeding process, to try to provide him milk and not have a Department officer ensuring the mild you provided could be kept in a refrigerator. To know your son had Bronchitis, and asma, and didn’t receive the medical treatment you as parents envision for him. To know he has been submitted to different sorts of tests, and you, his mother, have not even received a copy of the results... 

They have ripped off the maternal, affective and main crucial connections for the development of your baby, those that guarantee both yours and your family’s emotional stability. I swear, I don’t know where you hold strength from. I can imagine the kind of love that has embraced you, keeping your pieces together, even when others have intended the opposite.

All the physical visits with Messiah were cancelled from mid August until December 2020. Four months without seeing your baby, due to quarantine and the COVID outbreak. Not being able to speak about these injustices… a Ley de Mordaza.

 One year and four months.

One year and four months.

One year and four months.

One year and four months.

Tomorrow, which is already today, July 21, 2021, witnesses will continue testifying in the room #4 of the Federal Court. I hope the judge, Raúl M. Arias-Marxuach rules in favor of the best interest of Messiah and his family. I hope he achieves what the Justice System of Puerto Rico has failed to do: be diligent. 

I hope tomorrow this nightmare ends, and that you are able to have Messiah back in your arms, forever with you.

Gloriann Sacha Antonetty


Translation by Alejandra Rosa- of a letter published 7.21.21 12:56 pm