José Salvador Alvarenga, the castaway who survived 14 months in a small fishing boat in the South Pacific, is being sued by his shipmate’s family for cannibalism. The family of 22-year-old Ezequiel Cordoba claims that Alvarenga ate his young shipmate after he died. The lawsuit comes just days after José Salvador Alvarenga’s book “438 Days: An Extraordinary True Story of Survival at Sea” was published.
José Salvador Alvarenga did not survive his 438-day ordeal due to cannibalism, says his lawyer according to a December 17 People report. “Now, the family is demanding $1 million in compensation from Alvarenga, alleging that their son was the victim of cannibalism.”
Ricardo Cucalón, Alvarenga’s lawyer, is saying that Cordoba’s family has absolutely no evidence that any cannibalism took place. In an interview with El Salvador’s El Diario de Hoy, Cucalón said that Cordoba’s family is hoping to become rich after the publication of Alvarenga’s survival story which was written by Jonathan Franklin and published on November 17, 2015.
“I believe the suit is a pressure tactic,” Cucalón told the El Diario de Hoy, “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.”
José Salvador Alvarenga, who was born in Salvador, had been living on the Pacific Coast of southern Mexico for around 15 years. On November 17, 2012, he paid 22-year-old Ezequiel Cordoba $50 to help him on a two-day fishing trip. When a fierce storm killed the 25-foot boat’s engine, washed the supplies into the sea, and blew the fishermen off course, they had to resort to eating birds, turtles and fish, and drinking their own urine in order to survive. Young Cordoba, who was not used to the raw diet, became ill and died after two months. Alvarenga kept his crewmate’s dead corpse in the boat, but after six days, he finally pushed the young man’s body overboard. In January 2014, Alvarenga drifted ashore in the Marshall Islands, 6,500 miles (10,500 kilometers) from where he and Cordoba had set out.
After his rescue and recovery, Alvarenga visited Cordoba’s mother and shared her son’s final moments with her. Back then, she did not have any doubts as to how her son died.
The cannibalism lawsuit against José Salvador Alvarenga does raise the question as to the legality of one human eating another human. “Turns out there are no laws in the U.S. specifically outlawing cannibalism, except in Idaho,” reports Weird Universe. According to Idaho’s statue, “cannibalism is punishable by imprisonment in the state prison not exceeding fourteen (14) years.” However ,”it shall be an affirmative defense to a violation of the provisions of this section that the action was taken under extreme life-threatening conditions as the only apparent means of survival.”
Even if the cannibalism accusations against 36-year-old José Salvador Alvarenga were true, not even Idaho would find the fisherman guilty. Cannibalism as a last sort of survival is also not considered to be illegal in Britain and most other countries.