[Marxism] According to US govt being Indigenous Bolivian means being a "terrorist"...
fred.fuentes at gmail.com
Tue Nov 14 18:20:17 MST 2006
Latin-American Intellectuals Join Ranks of 'Ideologically Excluded'
New America Media , Investigation, Camille T. Taiara, Nov 13, 2006
Editor's Note: Indigenous Bolivian professor Waskar Ari was well on
his way to a distinguished academic career in the U.S. -- until
someone decided that his support for native rights put him in league
with terrorists. "Disappeared in America" is a regular feature
profiling immigrants who've been detained or deported and whose cases
illustrate unjust or inhumane features of the Department of Homeland
Security's immigration and detention systems. Camille T. Taiara
(ctaiara at newamericamedia.org) edits the series for NAM.
Waskar Ari Chachaki is an ill-fated victim of the War on Terror. Born
in the remote Andean highlands of Bolivia, by age 42 he had earned a
Ph.D. from prestigious Georgetown University. Ari, the first member of
the pre-Incan Aymara tribe with a doctorate in history from the United
States, also helped establish eight indigenous organizations in
Bolivia and Peru. He's an expert in indigenous history, culture and
But American students may never benefit from his singular perspective.
"I'm exiled in my own country," Ari says from La Paz, where he now
resides after eight years living in the United States.
For the past one-and-a-half years, the U.S. government has refused to
grant Ari a visa to teach at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln.
Attorney Michael Maggio says the case is another instance of
ideological exclusion -- a practice that has grown exponentially since
9/11. Before, these cases "weren't very common" and "usually involved
someone of prominent stature, such as [former Chilean president]
Salvador Allende's widow," says Maggio, who has fought such cases for
more than 20 years and is representing Ari for free.
Ari first moved to the United States in 1996 on a student visa. He
studied, taught, and traveled in and out of the country for eight
years with no problems, then returned to Bolivia in late May 2005, for
what he expected to be a short stay.
The University of Nebraska petitioned the government for a
professional, H1-B visa for Ari on June 13, 2005.
They're still waiting.
In July, the U.S. Embassy in La Paz called Ari. When he turned up for
his appointment, a U.S. representative stamped "cancelled" on all the
American visas in his passport, apparently at the request of the State
Since then, "the world has turned upside down," Ari said.
Jones says of the university's decision to hire him, "he's a top-notch
teacher and scholar. But he also brings his experience as an
indigenous person, and that's unique and rare in academia.... We're
continuing to hold his position."
The government will neither officially explain why it's held up his
H1-B visa for so long nor when -- if ever -- it expects to make a
"We're in this speculation chamber," Jones said. "We're sympathetic to
security issues, but we deserve resolution. ... The lack of
information and the lack of movement [on Ari's visa] raise bigger
questions: Is this a legitimate process, or is it political?"
Maggio said that "highly reliable sources" in government told him, off
the record, that the matter is "in the hands of the FBI."
Earlier this year, the State Department told the Chronicle of Higher
Education that Ari's old visa had been cancelled "under a
terrorism-related section of U.S. legislation."
A spokesperson for Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS), the
government branch that processes visa applications, said it won't give
out information on specific cases.
Ari suspects ideological detractors in Bolivia fingered him as a
threat. "If someone wants to ruin a person, they just say they have
terrorist connections," he said, adding that "the election of [Evo
Morales,] the first indigenous president in five centuries, has
provoked racial confrontation in Bolivia. Some say all those who
advocate indigenous rights need to be reigned in."
Although Ari is a staunch supporter of indigenous rights, he insists
he's not a separatist. He claims that he's widely perceived as a
moderate in Bolivia -- a position supported by many prominent
individuals and professional associations that have appealed to the
Bush administration on his behalf, including the American Historical
Association, the American Association of University Professors, and
the Georgetown University Faculty Senate.
Nonetheless, Charles Hale, president of the Latin American Studies
Association, isn't surprised by Ari's treatment. "There seems to be an
ideological litmus test that's being selectively applied, particularly
to Latin American intellectuals from countries with left-leaning
governments" says Hale, an anthropology professor at the University of
Texas at Austin. Ideological exclusion has become such a problem, he
says, that LASA is relocating its next international congress from the
United States to Canada for the first time in its history.
Which law the government is relying on to hold up Ari's visa remains
unclear. The PATRIOT Act includes a clause that allows authorities to
deny entry to those who "endorse or espouse terrorist activity" or
persuade others to do so. But attorney Maggio says the practice of
barring ideological undesireables from entering the United States is
"What's new since Sept. 11," he says, "is the number of people caught
in the ideological exclusion sweep, which has expanded dramatically."
Definitions of terrorism have been broadened, standards of proof
weakened, secrecy increased, and visas are being denied based on
preposterous allegations, according to Maggio.
The ACLU filed a lawsuit in January challenging the PATRIOT Act's
ideological exclusion provision as unconstitutionally depriving
Americans from hearing perspectives protected as free speech under the
First Amendment. Swiss citizen Tariq Ramadan, regarded as one of the
world's top scholars on Islam, was among the plaintiffs. The U.S.
government temporarily revoked Ramadan's visa to teach at the
University of Notre Dame in 2004. Last June, a federal court agreed
that the government cannot exclude someone based purely on the
person's politics, and ordered CIS to make a final decision on
Ramadan's visa within 90 days. Ramadan was formally denied a visa in
September under a separate clause. The reason cited were donations
he'd made to Swiss and French charities providing humanitarian support
If you sue, Maggio said, you might get answers as to why you're
ostensibly being denied entry into the country. But "you don't get the
visa" and "no one gets into trouble for calling someone a terrorist."
In the meantime, Professor Jones worries about the effects on Ari.
"This has taken a toll on him," he says. "He's in limbo. It's his job,
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