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Thursday, 17 May 2012

No speech like free speech?

As scholars make preparations for next week’s prestigious Latin American Studies Association Congress 2012 in San Francisco, there has been the very disturbing news that seven visas for Cuban academics have been denied in the past few days, two were denied on Tuesday, five on Wednesday; it is likely that at least three others will be denied as meetings have been scheduled for Friday and Monday.
Though a good number of visas have been granted including that of Mariela Castro (pictured), the daughter of Raúl Castro, many others are still pending and the organisers of the Congress are deeply disturbed.   The LASA congress was removed from the United States some years ago in protest at the Government's denial of visas for Cuban academics to attend. It only returned to the US this year with the assurance that Cuban academics and intellectuals would be granted entry. The Washington Post contains a story on this HERE. It concludes:
"The secrecy of the visa process and the apparent contradictions in how applicants are judged make the system vulnerable to charges of political ma­nipu­la­tion. Some critics suggested Thursday that the criteria for granting Cubans visas may have more to do with the shifting mood in Washington or Havana than with an applicant’s merit."

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