Visa jitters

Reports swirling that US is to move against five more politicians

Tuesday, November 05, 2019

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There are increasing jitters in local circles today as reports surface that the United States (US) is set to revoke the visas of five more members of the political directorate.

It is unusual for the US to signal when it is about to revoke a visa but a number of political sources have told the Jamaica Observer that two members of the governing Jamaica Labour Party and three members of the Opposition People's National Party (PNP) are to be affected.

“I can't give you the names, but keep close to the members of Parliament because this could break before the end of this week,” said one source who last week had confirmed to the Observer that Cabinet member Daryl Vaz and PNP Vice-President Phillip Paulwell had lost their US visas.

Another source pointed to the fact the Prime Minister Andrew Holness and Opposition Leader Dr Peter Phillips are both off the island visiting communist countries as this unfolds.

Holness is in China on an official working visit where he yesterday had bilateral talks with President Xi Jinping among other engagements, while Phillips is in Cuba attending a conference of progressive parties at the invitation of the Communist Party of Cuba.

“So neither leader is here to have face-to-face talks with [Donald] Tapia (the recently appointed US ambassador to Jamaica) to try to get this thing settled. All you are hearing are the whispers and everybody is on edge,” added the source.

All US visas, however, are issued on the condition that the holder abides by their terms and can be cancelled at any time, whether before, during, or after a visit to that country.

Sometimes a visa is cancelled before a visit because the US Government obtains evidence that the person plans to use the visa for a different purpose than was intended.

The US Embassy in Kingston has repeatedly indicated that it will not comment on why a person's visa is revoked, and in the case of Vaz and Paulwell, only a brief letter with no explanation was given to them.

Vaz has indicated that in his letter he was told that, “Subsequent to the visa issuance, information has come to light that you may be ineligible for a visa. If you would like to travel to the United States, you must re-apply.”

Paulwell also said that he was not aware of any reason, nor was he told of any, which could have motivated the US authorities to act in such a manner as to the cancellation of his visa which he has had for many years, in and out of the Government.

Both Paulwell and Vaz have indicated that they will be seeking clarity on the matter.


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