The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday said it would help a local charity group that is arranging a visit by a boy who was at the center of a custody battle between relatives in Brazil and Taiwan a decade ago.
The ministry “will offer around NT$200,000 to the Taiwan Catholic Mission Foundation” in humanitarian aid to facilitate the visit by Iruan Ergui Wu, also known as Wu Yi-hua (吳憶樺), said Albert Liu (劉宗杰), deputy director-general of the ministry’s Department of NGO International Affairs.
The budget will be used to subsidize travel expenses and accommodation for Wu, his foster mother — a German national living in Brazil — and foster brother, Liu said.
They are scheduled to visit Taiwan from Jan. 2 to Jan. 19, Liu added.
It will be the first time that Wu, now 18, returns to Taiwan since a Taiwanese court granted custody to his maternal grandmother in Brazil in 2004, following the death of his Brazilian mother and Taiwanese father.
He is set to visit several local schools as an “education ambassador” for the Taiwan Catholic Mission Foundation.
However, some netizens questioned the ministry’s move to subsidize the trip.
“Has Wu made any contribution to Taiwan worth the amount of [taxpayers’] money being used [for his trip]?” a netizen asked.
Another netizen said the ministry should treat everyone equally and asked: “I want to go to Brazil to watch a soccer game, can the ministry subsidize [my trip]?”
Ministry spokeswoman Anna Kao (高安) said that officials at Taiwan’s representative office in Sao Paulo have been closely following Wu’s life since he was brought back to Brazil.
Wu’s father, Wu Teng-shu (吳登樹), was a fisherman from Kaohsiung. He met a woman in Brazil who gave birth to Iruan in May 1995 and raised him there after Wu Teng-shu left.
When his mother died of cancer three years later, Iruan Ergui Wu’s grandmother Rosa Leocadia DaSilva Ergui was awarded custody.
In 2001, Wu Teng-shu brought the six-year-old boy to Taiwan to visit family, but had a heart attack two weeks later. The boy’s uncle, Wu Huo-yen (吳火眼), decided to keep him in Kaohsiung. DaSilva Ergui later came to Taiwan to bring the boy back, setting off lengthy court proceedings that lasted more than two years before the Taiwan High Court ruled in her favor.
When Iruan Ergui Wu was taken from his uncle’s home on Feb. 10, 2004, clashes erupted as the then-eight-year-old boy’s relatives tried to stop police from entering their home. He was later adopted by a German couple in Brazil because of his grandmother’s poor health.
Additional reporting by Chen Hui-ping