January 13, 2004

Viva Brazil

If I was Brazilian, I'd be very proud of my government right about now. Paranoid and xenophobic administration in DC decides to fingerprint everyone entering the U.S. (that's EVERYONE except those who don't require a visa, meaning anyone that is not from white north European heritage) and they retaliate by fingerprinting anyone entering Brazil with a U.S. passport.

The humiliation and indignity normally only associated with convicts and those suspected of committing serious crimes, is now bestowed upon hundreds of thousands of innocent men and women who automatically join the list of possible suspects, if they want to have their kids meet Mickey Mouse, are attending a business meeting, visiting a relative or are just changing planes in this country. So Brazil decided it was only fair to offer them a taste of their own medicine and bravely made a tough decision. They should be applauded for standing up against such an offending and erroneous policy.

This administration has mastered the art of insulting the world and one by one, former allies and friendly nations find new ways to dislike globe's only superpower. But not to worry, this is an election year and the citizens holding those passports, will have a chance to change all of that later in the year.

While we are on the topic, Iran Sports Press is auctioning off a signed Ronaldo jersey with proceeds going to Relief International for Bam earthquake victims. The high bidder will make a direct donation to RI to receive the jersey. At the latest, the bidding had reached $2,000 but I am sure somebody will raise that soon, maybe an eyeranian reader?

Posted by Pedram at January 13, 2004 09:47 PM

We are proud of our policy towards American travellers, as well as we are proud that our Federal Police Officers are polite and do not harass any tourist. Brazilians, a nation without records of terrorism for over 30 years (we had a brief terrorist wave during the early seventies as some groups decided to fight the American supported military dictatorship, this evolved to guerrilla fight, and then to democratic fight. Today some of our ministers were guerrilla fighters, our president was a union leader arrested by the military back in the eighties, and so on. We made our transition to democracy without American help, and by purely democratic means, and we´re damn proud of it), peace loving people, have been subjected to horrible humiliations in the American airports. We would never subject anyone to this horrible treatment, that´s something the public opinion would despise, but we have a law, in fact it is in our constitution that our foreign relations must be ruled by the principle of reciprocity, the judges´ ruling was based on this principle and according to our system can not be overruled. What has been in discussion is a faster way to make the tourist identification.
And you know what? America´s dealing with Latin America has always been lousy, free trade my ass, they don´t eliminate agricultural, steel et al subsidies and when they do they demand phitosanitary rules that are just stupid, and when we meet them, they overtax the goods again. So, with friends like that who needs enemies? If trade with America is free like that, frankly we don´t need to trade with America, we´d better look for alternative markets (we´ve been pretty successful at that), and sabotage the FTAA as much as we can, and hey, other countries are doing just what we´re doing. So we could not care less about the conseqüences of fingerprinting Americans, on the same conditions, I´d fingerprint the Pope!!!
It is high time other countries have the same attitude.
Pedram you would love a beer ad on our TV these days... you listen to Ronaldo talking about the Brazilian summer (which is almost a year long considering the temperatures), how fun it is, the joys of a sunny day at the beach and so on, and that ice cold beer. Then it cuts to him standing on a frozen garden, freezing himself and a frozen beer next to him... and he says, well, at least the beer is cold. Yeah, I bet he is longing for his carnaval break...

Posted by: Vox at January 14, 2004 03:48 AM

Just wondering if you had a different opinion if you had lost a friend or relative in a terrorsit plane event...Yes, it is very harsh to fingerprint visitors to this country, but is there another alternative to weed out terrorists? This country must defend itself and its citizens. This country has all the rights to do whatever it can to protect itself. How else can you preserve the democracy this country provides to you? Too bad if the visitors get upset for fingerprinting. If fingerprinting of visitors keeps me and my family safe in the skies, then I am all for it.

Posted by: Ramin at January 14, 2004 11:07 AM

I suppose if you are happy living in the fantasy that subjecting others to what Pedram called a humiliation has made you safer, feel free. Just want to point out that the only 13 people who have ever endangered your family and mine, were all here legally and if they had been fingerprinted, they'd still be able to do what they did. Now go feel safe!

Posted by: visitor at January 14, 2004 11:17 AM

But wait a minute...those are the 13 we know of, do you have any idea of how many others may have been prevented from doing harmful acts?

Posted by: BOSS at January 14, 2004 01:30 PM

Oh dear Visitor, I suppose you have never done anything to protect yourself. Do you lock your house when you leave? Do you lock your car? Do you take care not to be cheated on your financial transaction? Well, you are in right for doing whatever you can to protect yourself. That is your right. A nation also has the same right to protect itself.

Posted by: JustMe at January 14, 2004 01:34 PM

fair enough. US of A has to do whatever to prevent terrorists from entering its boarders and try to keep its citizens safe. But referring to Ramin’s question asking what else there is to do, I say how about finding the actual reason these people (terrorists) have become US-haters? It is not that they are just haters and would like to like everyone but their own people. Otherwise they would have attacked Europeans and perhaps Canadians as well. So it must be something especial about USA. Have you noticed how the question of why the terrorists hate Americans has got so little attention? The reason is quite simple. Those terrorists, mainly Arabs and Muslims, are just tired and sick of American government so blindly supporting Israel and intervene in their countries matters. I am also sick and tired of US government’s policies. I am also very much sick and tired of hearing Israeli soldiers killing and suppressing Palestinian civilians, and USA, who very much acts like the world’s police (take for example invasion of Iraq), just pretending Israel is going nothing wrong. But me, unlike the terrorists, don’t agree at all with killing innocent civilians (American or Israeli people) to protest against death of other innocent civilians (Palestinians). It is just not right. But the terrorist, wrongly of course, think otherwise. However, if US change its policy towards Palestine-Israel conflict, I am certain many of these terrorists will calm down, and stop being terrorists! As simple as that. No really, it is that simple!!! Then like other nations, USA doesn’t need to fingerprint everyone who wants to enter its boarders. I am sure it costs a lot of money. Plus, how effective do think the process of fingerprinting will be. The fingerprinting will only stop “known” terrorists to enter the country. But how about those newly joined ones with no previous record? Oh the simple mind of Americans…

Posted by: Foad at January 14, 2004 05:09 PM

Pedram wrote: "that's everyone except those who don't require a visa..."

My husband is a Mexican citizen. As I recall when he applied for his first tourist visa his photo was taken and he was fingerprinted. This was done again when he was approved as a resident alien. So what is the point of fingerprinting and photographing people who have already been fingerprinted and photographed?

I agree with Foad's take on the Israeli / Palestinian situation. The US needs to be FAR more balanced in their support to see any long term results. The "Israel only" plan just isn't working. But I disagree that terrorist attacks have only been directed at Americans. There have been a number of arrests in Germany, France and the UK. It's just dumb luck that attacks haven't been carried out in those places. And what about the bombings in Turkey? Sure the bombs were directed at UK targets but the majority of the people injured and killed were good, non-American supporting Muslims. And Usama never mentioned the Israeli / Palestinian situation in his messages until after 9/11. His complaint was American troops in Saudi Arabia. He's just hijacked Palestine and Islam to gain support.

And as for the "simple minds of Americans," Foad, can you please try to express your opinion without condescendingly insulting 290 million people? If I had written something about the simple minds of Arabs or Japanese or Africans I would be blown out of the water here - and rightly so.

Posted by: Kristen at January 14, 2004 10:47 PM

Kristen - Visitor and business visa applicants were not subjected to fingerprinting, but they now must be treated like a criminal when entering the U.S.

When I start to discriminate and stereotype people in the name of defending my home, someone please shoot me.

Posted by: NoBody at January 15, 2004 12:26 AM

Nobody - I had forgotten that Mexicans in the border areas are given "Border Crossing Cards" in which their photos and fingerprints are taken. These are plastic cards much like "green cards" that have the photo on the front and photos of the fingerprints are imbedded in a little microfiche strip on the back. I suppose most others applying for visas get the paper kind. Sorry for the confusion.

I too commend Brazil for their position. Let's not forget that all the information about the 9/11 terrorists was out there if only law enforcement had better communication and the ability to cross reference information. It's like finding a needle in a haystack and all this additional useless information is just adding more hay to the stack!

Posted by: Kristen at January 15, 2004 02:33 AM

Our passports have biometric information. When we pay to apply to VISA´s to the US we are subjected to interviews and stuff. Why then subject people who have already been "cleared" to new identification? Of course, if you believe your system for giving VISAs is crappy... then isn´t it more sensible to get tougher on that first step? You can only identify known terrorists, with fingerprinting, and it is very, ut very inlikely you will ever find one this way. In fact just yesterday a Sudanese man was caught in England coming from the US loaded with weapons, how did he break through the security at Dulles? Fingerprinting people who already have VISAs is pointless, and it becomes a joke if the other security measures are that crappy. Gives you a false feeling of security, just that.
Yesterday an American Airlines pilot was arrested and the crew sent back immediately to the US because he disrespected our customs authorities. It was awful, and AA is paying a fine to free and repatriate him. The difference is that here you know why you were arrested, you have access to a telephone, to lawyers, etc. In the US these days, if a Brazilian, or any other foreigner, were disrespectful towards immigration officers, even unawares because of cultural difference, he would risk being arrested and have no access to a phone, to a lawyer, to an interpreter, anything. And it is appalling how Americans support this kind of stuff, for a sense of security that is totally false because it does not support two minutes os scrutiny!
One other stupid measure is having armed officers on international flights. It is unlikely to stop for sure any terrorist action, and it may cause problems with god knows what loonies are out there. Remember that the flights which crashed on the WTC were all domestic. Can you imagine those loonies from the NRA arguing that they cannot trust their safety to anybody else and demand to carry their own weapons? Do you really think it is not possible?
You see, if only the US created a safety belt of goodwill it would be a lot more effective than turning it into practically a police state!!!

Posted by: Vox at January 15, 2004 04:48 AM

Ramin, thank you.

Posted by: A.H. at January 15, 2004 07:00 AM

I think Brazil is just playing silly kindergarden games. I initially thought that their rule to fingerprint only americans was a joke (the urban legend type thing that appear in comical news sections of some papers).

I think there will be a time then fingerprinting or similar will be just routine. It was not long ago when in some places where were people angry because of the humiliation of having to have a photograph on their ID (does the state not trust who we say we are?!?), I've seen an actual demonstration against social security codes (oh the horror, we are not numbers we are free men!?!) and two or three years ago there was an outrage amongst some when Finland decided to use fingerprinting and photographing randomly on people entering Finland through the non-EU lane (we are not criminals, why should Finland be able to identify us later?!?).

I am all for better identification techniques at border crossings. I think all states who can afford it should adopt it. If I ever visited Brazil they could have all the photos and fingerprints of me they want. With modern technology its fast and painless and if it get's the queues to run faster at the borders then all the better.

Oh BTW I think there is one documented case where an armed officer on an Israeli flight prevented a hijacking. Although it may be possible to get firearms on board a plane occassionally, a terrorist organisation can no longer rely on it. In 911 the terrorists apparently used knives. I believe an armed officer would be a significant deterrent to attempts to hijack planes with knives or similar weapons.

Posted by: pp at January 15, 2004 07:47 AM

Nope, pp, that is not a silly kindengarten game, it is a constitutional principle, in fact I could say that the US "care" is turning into sickly paranoia, and I wouldn´t be far from the truth. What the US subject us L A is not simple fingerprinting, it is often harassment. Now the process here has just been turned digital, so it is a lot faster anyway. Fingerprinting is no big deal if it is done politely, and that´s something American Immigration officers don´t have: education.
Now, sense of humour is priceless. They decided to receive tourists, not only American with a welcome commitee made of two mulattas (those with long legs and samba dancers. This is not racism, please, in fact this is a compliment as it is a beauty statement) and samba players, and this elderly French guy got so amazed at that lady´s health that he forgot his cast and started dancing right on the airport hall. He wasn´t the only one, as we are warming up for carnaval, but definitely, what a bit of sun, heat and music can´t do ... Know what, people should, if only for a few minutes a day, simply look at the world around them and simply have fun with being alive. It is a great exercise for the soul, I do it everyday on my way to work. Ok, I work on a beautiful place, and the early morning is just fine for this exercise, but I am sure people can find a bit of beauty and peace any where. It helps you put life in perspective, take the stress easier, find solutions for problems... and get along with the hardships of life.

Posted by: Vox at January 15, 2004 09:15 AM

again fair enough kristen, i shouldn't have used the adjective of "simple minded" for the entire 290 million americans. perhaps the right number would be around 230 million. thats 80%.

Posted by: Foad at January 15, 2004 09:43 AM

Vox, You have a constitutional principle requiring you to retaliate such things? I wonder why don't you subject Finns to this because a Brazilian coming to Finland by ship from a non-EU port of origin is liable to get his/her fingerprint taken as well (not to mention having to wait in line for an hour or so, then requested to show the frontier guard all the cash you are carrying and finally subjected to interrogation to determine that you do not intend to become a prostitute [if you happen to be a female under the age of 50] or otherwise work in Finland).

I've travelled quite a lot (unfortunately not to south america - something I am aching to correct ASAP) and although I admire Finland a lot the rudeness of Finnish frontier guards is almost legendary (except at the airports). In fact there are enormous differences in how the border guards act in different countries - if you want to achieve complete reciprocity you would need to have separate procedure for each and every state.

Posted by: pp at January 15, 2004 11:21 AM

May I remind you that less than half voted for Bush in the election. That's only 145 million. Then there are those who don't vote or care at all.....

Posted by: Kristen at January 15, 2004 05:00 PM

You think fingerprinting is causing a spike in harassment and rudeness among US INS personnel? Apparently you've never crossed from Mexico into the US anytime within the last 15 years! They are some of the rudest, most poorly behaved people I have ever seen. Particularly at the Tijuana border crossing, it made me truly ashamed to be an American. This was long before 9/11 and fingerprinting.

The US is asking / expecting other countries to implement other new security procedures on its outgoing international flights. Maybe all countries should implement this fingerprinting and photographing requirement for ALL incoming passengers.

All its going to take to cancel this new policy is to have a few thousand foreign tourists cancel their reservations at Disneyland because they don't wish to be fingerprinted. Corporate America will squawk and it'll be all over. Big money wins one for the little guy.

Posted by: Kristen at January 15, 2004 05:16 PM

If u think foreign tourists shouldnt complain about being fingerprinted at US airports, then why the big fuss over the Brazilian fingerprinting rule? Surely americans should be praising brazilian committment to USA welcoming policies? If Brazilian tourists shouldnt complain then American tourists shouldnt complain. Also ok pp make the finns fingerprint aswell! Maybe one day when the situation has reached ridiculous proportions (if it hasnt already) we'll all sit down and laugh about it all and stop being so aggressive to each other. Peace.

Posted by: Rodney at March 22, 2004 10:05 AM