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LETTER OF THE DAY - No one has a 'right' to a visa

Published:Friday | March 5, 2010 | 12:00 AM

The Editor,
Sir:

I read with interest the story about Wayne Chen's US visa cancellation and the subsequent action by the prime minister or his representatives to investigate the matter. I find it incredulous that the State would get involved in such a trivial matter. Or is it that Mr Chen is more important to Jamaica than all the other thousands of citizens who have either been denied visas or have had them issued and later cancelled?

Undoubtedly, Mr Chen must be of the belief or understanding that in his position in Jamaica he has earned the 'right' to have a tourist visa to the United States. Sadly, there is no such thing as a right to visit another person's country, only a privilege.

While it is true that, as citizens, we expect our leaders to do all that is within a reasonable realm to protect our legal, civil and human rights, and to ensure our safety, and help provide opportunities to enable us to provide our basic needs for food, shelter and clothing, as far as I know there is no legal imperative or any moral authority that would require state intervention in this matter.

Certainly, if Mr Chen's rights have been infringed upon by a foreign power, as a citizen he would deserve the full support of his elected representatives to negotiate on his behalf. In addition, I would expect the people of Jamaica to support fully any action that would assist Mr Chen to restore his democratic rights, especially if they impact his life or liberty.

Choosing battles

The last time I checked, Jamaica still has one of the highest murder rates in the world; is still fighting poverty and illiteracy; and still has a high level of unemployment, where a significant percentage of the youth population is still helpless and hopeless. At the same time, working people continue to barricade themselves in their homes in fear of being violated. Yet, the democratically elected Government of Jamaica finds the time to be involved in investigating a trivial matter as a citizen's US tourist visa, something that is clearly not in the range of the PM's duties and responsibilities.

But as I read the comments made on the issue, I am reminded that Jamaica has not moved too far beyond cronyism and the power and influence of 'who wi know and who know wi', and soon the officials will find that there are countries that operate on the rule of law, unlike in our society where so many other factors impact decisions.

Mr Chen is quite capable of representing himself and can easily investigate his visa cancellation on his own. He could likely discover that the embassy had made a clerical error, or that his visa was indeed cancelled for reason he will never know and he will just have to live with it until such time as he may be granted a tourist visa again or never.

But the lesson for all of us is that when citizens feel that they can call upon heads of state to intervene because of their obvious or perceived position in society, and when heads of government facilitate these requests, it leaves a bad taste in the mouths of those who are not so privileged to be able to dial and say, "Yo, Bruce, dem tek whey mi visa" and get an immediate investigation.

The PM and his representative, if it is true that they have intervened, are way out of line, and the country could be better served if they acted as quickly to address some of the issues aforementioned.

I am, etc.,

JULIE TAYLOR-OMOLE

Tigerjt75@yahoo.com

Bel Air, Maryland