Wednesday, October 01, 2008


From the "what the hell are they thinking" category comes news that the US government has decided to deny entry visas to two correspondents from Prensa Latina - Ilsa Rodriguez and Tomas Anael Granados - who regularly cover the United Nations.

The State Department declined to comment on the matter.

Journalists and their organizations from around the world have condemned the bizarre action.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) today called on the U.S. government to explain its decision.

CPJ says the two married journalists have together accumulated four decades of experience working both in Cuba and overseas in countries like India, Zimbabwe, China, and the U.S., reported Prensa Latina. They were vacationing in Cuba when they learned that their U.S. visas would not be renewed, the agency reported.

A spokeswoman for Prensa Latina in Havana told CPJ that, according to a recent letter from U.S. authorities, the two reporters were denied visas under a clause of the Immigration and Nationality Act that can deny entry to any person or group considered prejudicial to the interests of the United States.

Prensa Latina denounced the action arguing, "The visa denial ... shows the United States' open disdain for journalism and the universal human right of informing and being informed, while not fulfilling its duty as host to the United Nations main headquarters."

The Foreign Press Association in Peru (APEP) and the Chilean College of Journalists on Tuesday expressed their support for the two Prensa Latina correspondents at the United Nations.

APEP president Lucien Chauvin said that, while Washington has the right to decide who it allows into its territory, the U.N. grounds in New York are international territory and therefore outside Washington's jurisdiction.

Reporters Without Borders (RWB) called on the office of the UN secretary-general to intercede on behalf of the two journalists.

“This measure is both persecutory and incomprehensible,” RWB said. “Since when could journalists who have been accredited to the United Nations for three years suddenly pose a ‘threat’ to the United States? That is what the US authorities seem to think, to judge by the clause they brandished without further explanation.”

The following is from Prensa Latina.

Peru Journalist Decries US Outrage

Lima, Oct 1 (Prensa Latina) Editor of Peruvian La Primera daily, Cesar Levano, condemned on Wednesday the US denial of entry visas to two Prensa Latina correspondents accredited to the United Nations.

"I join the protest of international journalism against the denial of visas to two Cuban colleagues accredited to the UN," the veteran journalist told Prensa Latina.

He added that Washington's attitude against Ilsa Rodriguez and Anael Granados, who have been unable to return to the United Nations after spending vacations in Cuba, confirms that "the government of George W. Bush is again showing his anti-democratic credentials."

Previously, Chair of Foreign Press in Peru (APEP), US Lucien Chauvin, criticized the US decision, describing it as contradicting the defense of freedom of the press the northern country so much promotes.

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