Mike Cope's blog

Saturday, January 10, 2004

"U.S. and Brazil Fingerprinting: Is It Getting Out of Hand?" This was the headline on p. 3 of this mornings NY Times. I left Rio last night around midnight and arrived here (through Miami and DFW) around noon today. The headline describes the bizarre situation we met when we arrived in Rio a week ago. Here's what the article says: RIO DE JANEIRO, Jan. 9 — With Brazil and the United States holding fast to their insistence on photographing and fingerprinting visitors from the other country, what began as a minor dispute last week is now threatening to sour relations between the two countries, the most populous in the Western Hemisphere. The dispute grew out of a security program the United States began this week, which applies to all foreigners entering the country who are required to have visas. Comparing the American action to "the worst horrors committed by the Nazis," a judge in a remote interior state ordered that all Americans arriving in Brazil be subjected to the same treatment. It is a classic case of "the law of retaliation." Since the US is now requiring foreigners who enter the country to be electronically finger-printed and photographed (a process that takes about 30 seconds), Brazil has reciprocated. Except they're focusing just on US citizens as payback. When we got to Rio, a customs officer was telling everyone to proceed through except for US citizens. We had to wait single file while they went to get the terminals ONE guy who could do the fingerprints and take a photo. We were told that the last plane took 3 hours to get through. A couple days before (when they first began) some apparently waited up to 9 hours. The fingerprint guy had equipment that looked like a kid's 007 spy kit. It was funny hearing them say that ONLY United States citizens had to go through this. "Jordan? Come on in. Iraq? Enter. Libya? Pass on through. United States? Nope, sorry, we need your fingerprints and your photo." On the other hand . . . everything else was wonderful. More about the missions conference and the wonderful missions teams from Brazil, Argentina, Chile, and Paraguay later. Glad to be back!

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