Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of July 1, 2002
Canada denies visas to WYD pilgrims
Latin American youth rejected because they're too poor
By Catholic News Service
"Many of these kids have made tremendous efforts to pay for their trip to Toronto."
- Manuel Sarria
"What kind of travelling record can young boys and girls have in Ecuador, even among the middle class?" asked Manuel Sarria, an Ecuadorian youth minister.
"Many of these kids have made tremendous efforts to pay for their trip to Toronto, and none of them are trying to hide they are not wealthy people. All they want is to see the pope," Sarria said.
In Peru, World Youth Day coordinators reported that almost one-third of some 300 requests for visas have been turned down by the Canadian Embassy in Lima.
"Most of the kids have been promoting activities and working for months to pay their trip to Toronto," said Father Antonio Ravina.
"We had to overcome many difficulties, including the shortage of flights to Toronto, the current economic crisis. When all the problems seemed solved, this is quite a significant roadblock," Ravina said.
In Colombia, diocesan representatives reported that more than 50 per cent of requests for visas have been denied.
Additionally, participants are being charged $120 as a visa fee even though World Youth Day participants were supposed to have their fees waived.
Paul Kilbertus, WYD spokesman, said, "Ultimately, the Canadian government decides who gets into Canada and who doesn't and we respect that."
The Canadian government has waived visa fees for World Youth Day participants, Kilbertus said.
"There have been reports of fees being charged in some countries, but that had to do with a breakdown in communications. For something like that, we can notify the Canadian government and the problem is usually corrected," he said.
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