The US government has denied visas to Ecuadoran campesino and indigenous leaders Jose Encalado and Maria Mercedes Pineda, who
are scheduled to take part in the Peoples Global Action (PGA) bus tour, an educational tour through the northeastern US with several Colombian grassroots leaders and a representative from the Kuna Youth Movement of Panama.
The US government has denied visas to Jose Encalado, a leader of the Only National Confederation of Affiliates of the Campesino Social Security System-National Campesino Coordinating Committee (CONFEUNASSC-CNC), and Maria Mercedes Pineda, a leader of the indigenous peoples of Otavalo, who are scheduled to take part in the Peoples Global Action (PGA) bus tour, an educational tour through the northeastern US with several Colombian grassroots leaders and a representative from the Kuna Youth Movement of Panama. (The Colombian and Panamanian participants have already been granted visas.)
The tour will discuss the US drug war and the impact of Plan Colombia, with educational events planned for May 16-30 in Washington,
Philadelphia, New York and Boston, ending at a June 1-3 conference in Amherst, Massachusetts, of the North American section of PGA, a worldwide activist network of grassroots campesino and worker organizations.
"We are left to ask ourselves: why so much caution, even fear, that Latin American political leaders might enter the US?" asks Doris Trujillo of CONFEUNASSC-CNC in a May 11 statement reporting the visa denial. She adds: "The North Americans come to our country to stay and live, loaded with arms and genetically
modified organisms (GMOs), and we cannot deny them entrance" [As two visiting Ecuadoran activists explained at a New York City meeting on May 10, the more than 500 US soldiers stationed at the Manta air base in Ecuador–and their family members–are all granted diplomatic status that allows them to travel freely in and out of the country.]
CONFEUNASSC-CNC is urging people to send letters and make phone calls to the US Embassy in Quito:
Calls can also be made directly to the US State Department 202.647.5291, which is responsible for granting or denying visas.
US residents can call their senators and representatives either at their local offices
or in Washington via the congressional switchboard at 202.224.3121 and ask them to urge the State Department to grant visas to Encalado and Pineda.
[ also see related article:
Author: NICARAGUA SOLIDARITY NETWORK OF GREATER NEW YORK
News Service: Weekly News Update on the Americas #589, 5/13/01