As a Brazilianist who has to travel to Brazil periodically, allow me to (semi-selfishly) be the first to say this is encouraging:
During U.S. Secretary for Homeland Security Janet Napolitano’s visit to Brasilia earlier this month, she and Brazilian Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota agreed to set up a working group to study the elimination of visa requirements for travelers from the two countries. The first meeting of the group is expected in November.
“The push for a Brazil visa waiver is picking up steam. The signs are very good,’’ said Talbert. “Miami’s business community has been behind this for several years. We’re all talking about the jobs — and even more jobs would come with more Brazilian visitors.’’
The restrictions on Brazilians traveling to the United States really increased in the wake of 9/11, as the U.S. used the terrorist attacks to basically make life far more difficult for people from a number of Latin American countries to travel to the United States. Given the complete unattachment of Latin America to 9/11 in any way, shape, or form, it resembled at best one of the stupider policies after 9/11, and at worst, one of the more uselessly and baselessly xenophobic policies (last I checked, Brazil had nothing to do with the attacks in New York, Washington DC, or Pennsylvania).
Fortunately, Brazil has a system of reciprocity, meaning that whatever policies other countries require for Brazilian citizens, Brazil will require those policies for those countries’ citizens. In this case, Brazil countered by requiring U.S. citizens acquire a (not-necessarily cheap) travel visa to go to Brazil. That still didn’t make things entirely equal – the rigamarole Brazilians had to endure to obtain a travel visa to the U.S. was still more difficult than U.S. citizens who wanted a travel visa for Brazil – but it at least made completely transparent just how foolish and unnecessary the travel restrictions on Brazilians were. If the US removes those restrictions, it stands to reason under the policy of reciprocity that Brazil will respond in kind, and people who want to travel to Brazil may have greater ease going forward. And, as I’ve explained before, allowing Brazilians to travel to the US more easily can only be good for the US economy
. It’s good to see a presidential administration taking a sane approach on this matter after more than a decade of foolishness.
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