Salvador Alvarenga Sued For ‘Eating’ His Crewmate
The fisherman who survived for 15 months at sea is being sued for one million dollars (£650,000) by the family of his dead colleague, who accuse him of eating their relative to survive.
Salvador Alvarenga, 36, paid Ezequiel Cordoba, 22, $50 to accompany him on a two-day fishing trip off the coast of Mexico in November 2012.
After a vicious storm pushed the boat out to sea, the pair survived by catching fish and birds, and drinking turtle blood and urine.
Alvarenga says in “438 Days” that Córdova’s health declined after a couple of months and soon he stopped eating the little they had.
Mr Cordoba eventually died after making Mr Alvarenga promise not to eat his corpse and to find his mother and tell her what happened.
He dumped the young man’s body into the ocean after six days of speaking to the cadaver as if he were still alive. But Córdova’s parents in Chiapas, Mexico, are disputing that claim. They say he ate their son to survive.
Ricardo Cucalón, the Salvadoran attorney who has represented Alvarenga since his return from the South Pacific, told El Diario de Hoy that he hadn’t been notified of the lawsuit, and that they cannot prove their allegations.
“I believe the suit is a pressure tactic,” Cucalón told the paper, “trying to get him to pay part of the money that they’re all after [from the book deal], which isn’t as much as is talked about.”
He also pointed out that the timing of the suit coincided with the release in the United States of “438 Days.”
An excerpt of the book appeared in November in the Guardian. In it, Franklin describes at length the ordeal of the two men, and the topic of food and hunger constantly comes up.
Franklin wrote that Alvarenga told him, “I was so hungry that I was eating my own fingernails, swallowing all the little pieces.”
He goes on to describe how the fisherman scooped jellyfish out of the ocean and swallowed them whole.
“It burned the top part of my throat,” Alvarenga said, “but [it] wasn’t so bad.”
The excerpt also describes the moment Córdova died in convulsions on the floor of the boat. Alvarenga said he propped the young man’s body in the bow of the fishing boat because “I was afraid a wave might wash him out of the boat … I cried for hours.”
The book describes Alvarenga talking to the body in order to maintain a sense of companionship.
“Six days after Córdoba’s death,” Franklin wrote, “Alvarenga sat with the corpse on a moonless night, in full conversation, when, as if waking from a dream, he was suddenly shocked to find he was conversing with the dead. ‘First I washed his feet. His clothes were useful, so I stripped off a pair of shorts and a sweatshirt. I put that on – it was red, with little skull-and-crossbones – and then I dumped him in. And as I slid him into the water, I fainted.’”
Alvarenga is also being sued in El Salvador by a former attorney, Benedicto Perlera, who is seeking $1 million in damages over an alleged breach of contract when Alvarenga replaced Perlera with American attorneys, according to El Diario de Hoy.