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Visas Not Issued In Time for Latin Grammys

Cite as "AILA InfoNet Doc. No. 03090441 (posted Sep. 4, 2003)"

DOS Press Spokesman Answers Questions About Visas for Latin Grammys

The following is an excerpt from the September 3, 2003, press briefing by State Department Spokesman Richard Boucher:

"QUESTION: Could you let us know if the Cuban singers are going to make it to the Latin Grammies?

MR. BOUCHER: They're not going to make it, I'm sorry. They just -- we just got the stuff too late to be able to process it for them.

QUESTION: When did you get the (inaudible)?

MR. BOUCHER: Do I have an exact date? I don't remember. It was days, only days ago. It was not -- nowhere near the sort of six to eight weeks that's normally required.

QUESTION: Has the Cuban Government issued a formal complaint to you?

MR. BOUCHER: Don't know.”

The following is excerpted from the September 2, 2003, press briefing:

QUESTION: The Cubans are complaining that some of the Cuban winners of Latin Grammy Awards were denied visas to come to the U.S. to accept their awards. Any comment?

MR. BOUCHER: The -- this is a complicated situation. We all know that Cuba is on the State Sponsors of Terrorism list, and therefore all Cubans have to get appropriate handling for their visas, and it takes a while. And everybody knows -- the Cuban Government knows, most Cubans know, certainly Americans who deal with Cuba know that it can take six to eight weeks to process applications. They just submitted their applications a little while ago. We're processing the applications, even without the regularly -- what's normally required is an invitation from a U.S. sponsor, in this case the Latin Grammies -- so we're trying to process these cases as expeditiously as we can, but there are a lot of checks that need to be done. But I'm not in a position to promise that we can do them in time.

QUESTION: Can you give some idea of the checks that have to be done of singers?

MR. BOUCHER: It's for anybody. Whether it's a question --

QUESTION: But you had Iranian ping-pong players coming in here, and these are just Cuban -- were they ping-pong players? I forget.

QUESTION: Wrestlers.

QUESTION: Wrestlers. I don't know what. Cuba is always a --

MR. BOUCHER: That was a while back.

QUESTION: And Iraq.

QUESTION: Cuba seems to have a special -- raise special hackles.

MR. BOUCHER: No, you know, other people on the state sponsors list go through similar checks. It's just some people apply in time so that we can get all this done. Here, we have people who have applied very late in the process, and we're trying to do what we can for them. But I can't promise we can get it all done in time. You can't expect us to do all the necessary, legally required, and prudent checks in a very, very short length of time with an event coming up in a few days.”

 
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