Wikileaks’ posted cable yesterday revealed how a Brazilian who helped kidnap former US ambassador into his country in 1969 was given a tourist visa by the State Department last year.
Mr Venceslau’s passport had only just had his passport returned to him containing the precious visa when officials realized that he was classified as a terrorist for holding the former US ambassador Charles Burke Elbrick hostage for four days back in 69 together with a group of radical students who included today’s Brazilian congressman Fernando Gabeira and Minister Franklin Martins. The group, known as the Revolutionary Movement 8Th October, or MR-8, had for objective the immediate release of 15 political prisoners who were then held by the Brazilian military dictatorship, and indeed they succeeded!
The WikiLeaks cable investigates the reasons behind the approval of this visa when it had previously been turned down on three previous occasions.Venceslau went straight to the press once in possession of his visa and claimed that President Obama had made the policy change, soon after he had received the Nobel Peace Prize. This suggestion that the Obama’s administration’s policies have slackened was not the only one. Some words on the dependence on Brazilian oil exports were whispered.
Upon studying the WikiLeaks cable, it is apparent that the initial visa’s approval had absolutely nothing to do with a change of policies. According to the law in Brazil, when applying for a visa, it is not mandatory to include political crime when filling up the criminal record section. When the consulate checked him up, the record came up clean. Once the truth was discovered, a reversal of action and a cancellation of the visa would not have looked good when the relations between the two countries were at the peak of the negotiations and a future collaboration looked promising. Charge D’Affaire Lisa Kusbike is not impressed and states: “Issuance of a visa … might have implications for broader US policy and messaging on terrorism.”
Whether the visa was a calculated mistake or not, there is no doubt that the diplomats did not loose any time; anxious to show to the world how relations between the US and Latin America have changed, they saw an opportunity, and with Obama’s popularity increased with the Nobel Prize, they grabbed it. Sadly, Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva does not see it that way. The President, who gave his final speech last Tuesday in the impoverished state of Pernambuco where he himself was born, had tears in his eyes. On relations between the US and Latin America, he simply said: “Relations have changed little: The reality is they didn’t change at all. That makes me sad.”
|Written by Mireille|
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