RIO DE JANEIRO -- Is a Brazilian national due to be executed imminently for smuggling cocaine into Indonesia a paranoid schizophrenic in urgent need of psychiatric care?
This is the case being made by both the Brazilian government and the family of Rodrigo Gularte, 42, who was seized at Jakarta airport in 2004 trying to smuggle six kilograms of cocaine stuffed into surfboards.
Nine prisoners are due to be executed by firing squad. On Saturday, Gularte and the Brazilian government were told the executions would happen after a 72-hour notice period had passed. This could be as soon as Tuesday afternoon, Eastern time.
But both Gularte’s family and the Brazilian government say that Gularte is a paranoid schizophrenic who has yet to accept his own imminent death. His defense presented two reports saying he was schizophrenic last year and an evaluation in March requested by Indonesia's prosecutor-general has not been released, according to the G1 news site.
“The Brazilian is in a very deteriorated psychiatric state. He keeps affirming that it will not happen. At the same time he asks for the procedures to be sped up, that everything happens quickly,” said a Brazilian diplomatic official, speaking on the condition of anonymity and adding that Gularte expected to return to his old cell.
“He keeps showing all the signs of schizophrenia. At one point he said that there had been an international meeting of prosecutors and that they had decided to abolish the death penalty,” the official said.
As described, Gularte’s mental state is very different to that of another Brazilian cocaine smuggler, Marco Archer, 53, executed in January, as were four other foreign prisoners and an Indonesian, after smuggling 13 kilos of cocaine in the wings of a hang glider in 2003. But there were many similarities between the two men, who served time at the same Tangerang prison near Jakarta where both suggested in a 2005 magazine feature that conditions were comfortable and that cold beer and even "intimate" visits from girlfriends were occasionally available.
Gularte planned to live on Bali where he could surf at will with the money he stood to make. Archer, a hang-glider whose nickname was Curumim, a Brazilian indigenous word for "boy," had lived on Bali for years. Both came from upper-middle-class families and had enjoyed hedonistic beach lifestyles. Neither got into drug smuggling because they had no other choice.
“He was a spoilt boy, a surfer, he would bring skunk [a high-strength marijuana] to Brazil,” said Ruth Penido, 53, a friend of Archer’s from her early teens. “But he was one of the sweetest people I met in my life.”
Archer had been a professional drug smuggler for 20 years. “I am a trafficker,” Archer told journalist Renan Antunes in the 2005 interview in prison for a magazine. “I never had another job in my life.”
Penido, who also lived on Bali for a time, suggested that drug smuggling had been easy for Archer to fall into. “You do it once, and it’s fine, and then another time and you end up feeling invincible,” she said. Like many in Brazil, she said he did not deserve to die.
A profile broadcast in February on Brazil’s TV Record described Gularte, who grew up in Curitiba in the South of Brazil and had lived in Florianópolis, another surf center, as the wayward son of a rich family, whose mother paid for surfing trips abroad.
A Brazilian familiar with the drug scene in Bali in the late 1990s and early 2000s, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said Gularte had made the mistake of using an obvious smuggling device by stuffing the drug into surfboards, a year after Archer had been caught and security tightened.
“He was an idiot. He did it the year after Curumim, and the police were much more aware,” he said. “It was an unnecessary adventure.”
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Bali was an international destination for young travelers attracted by a hippie vibe, surf culture and electronic dance music parties where cocaine and ecstasy were available at clubs, as was marijuana, supplied by Italian and Brazilian drug traffickers who often used young surfers as mules. “Never thinking that they would die. Always thinking that they could pay some money and get out,” the Brazilian said.
According to the TV Record investigation, Gularte fit this profile. He had studied agronomy and medicine but never graduated, and fathered a child he refused to acknowledge with a rock singer 13 years his senior, Maria Rocio, who told the program she had to make him take a DNA test to prove his paternity. Relatives told the BBC he became depressed in his youth after his parents' divorce and that he talks to the walls and imagines ghosts.
Archer’s execution in January caused a minor diplomatic incident. Brazil’s President Rousseff even telephoned Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo to try to avert the execution. This time, the Brazilian government sent a letter to the Indonesian government, which was published by the Folha de S.Paulo newspaper.
“With the full knowledge of the Indonesian government, Mr. Gularte has a serious mental illness (paranoid schizophrenia),” it said. “The Brazilian government considers, in the most vehement terms, the possibility of execution of the Brazilian national absolutely unacceptable.”
It has not made any difference. TV Globo reported from Indonesia on Tuesday morning that his cousin Angelita Muxfeldt, who has been there for three months, had spoken to him, that he was very calm, and that he had yet to accept his fate because of his delirium.