I Take Thee...
Francisco Tudela's resumé could inspire a kick-ass James Bond flick. The former vice president of Peru once shared an office with a spy, was held hostage at the Japanese embassy, and worked under a world leader who was convicted for murder and kidnapping.
But for all the drama he witnessed, the one unfolding in Miami-Dade Circuit Court is the most personal. A lawsuit Tudela filed in April offers a portrait of a powerful Peruvian family in turmoil. In it, he claims a gold-digging caretaker who is after the family fortune abducted his insanely wealthy, 95-year-old father.
Pops uses a wheelchair, has dementia, and goes by the name Felipe. He comes from a royal bloodline, is the widower of a Dutch baroness, and made millions mining silver outside Lima. The suit fingers Graciela de Losada Marrou, a raven-haired 79-year-old who gave him at-home health care. Says Tudela's attorney, Andrew Hall: "She smuggled him out of the country. He was absolutely under her influence."
Opposing counsel contends Graciela fled because she was a victim of political persecution.
In November 2007, Graciela secretly married the old aristocrat. When Tudela found out, he called for a Peruvian judge to toss the marriage certificate. Felipe didn't have the mental capacity, Tudela argued, to enter into a contract like that. The judge agreed, finding Graciela had "infringed on [Felipe's] individual freedom" and "physically and psychologically mistreated" him.
It didn't matter. By that time, Graciela and her daughter had already flown him to Santa Cruz, Bolivia, for a church wedding in winter 2008. Then they headed to Miami. This past February 17, Graciela rolled her wrinkly hubby to the Miami-Dade courthouse for a third marriage. Nobody stopped her. Afterward, she hid him at her stately Key Biscayne condo, according to court documents, but has since returned to Peru.
Tudela then filed the lawsuit in April. He demands his father be returned home and the marriage be annulled.
Graciela and her lawyer did not return calls seeking comment. At the Key Biscayne condo, her daughter, Gracia Aljovin, spoke with New Times through a heavy white door, her eye to the peephole. "[Tudela] has lied to the judges from beginning to end," she said. "My mother was in a loving relationship with him for almost 30 years... He's perfectly capable of making decisions."
The case is still open in both countries. A hearing is set for September 10 in Peru.
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