- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 6, 2004

State slams Brazil

The State Department yesterday denounced a Brazilian policy imposed in retaliation to the new U.S. program that requires visitors from certain countries to be photographed and fingerprinted.

Brazil’s program is causing lengthy delays and is imposed only on Americans, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said.

“What we have seen is a program that was quickly instituted and not well-prepared and which results in significant delays, which are not in the interests of the United States, of American travelers or, frankly, the interests of Brazil in terms of attracting business and tourism,” he said.

In some cases, American visitors have been delayed up to nine hours at the international airport in Rio de Janeiro where their fingerprints are taken in ink, Mr. Boucher said. The new U.S.-VISIT program causes less than a minute’s delay for the instant photographs and clean, electronic fingerprints.

The United States recognizes Brazil’s right to impose immigration conditions on visitors, but urged the country to streamline its procedures, Mr. Boucher added.

A Brazilian judge on Monday ordered the retaliatory procedures, comparing the U.S. program to the “worst horrors committed by the Nazis.”

Caution for Kazakhs

Secretary of State Colin L. Powell told Kazakhstan to improve its poor human rights record if it wants U.S. support in its goal of becoming the first former Soviet republic to chair a key European human rights panel.

Mr. Powell wrote Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev in November to express the U.S. position on the next chairmanship of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). The letter was published yesterday on the Caspian Information Center’s Web site (www.caspianinfo.org).

Kazakh Ambassador Kanat Saudabayev yesterday said, “The letter from Secretary Powell is yet more evidence of strong relations between Kazakhstan and the United States, which are enhanced by an ongoing and trusted dialogue of true partners.”

Mr. Powell told Mr. Nazarbayev, “The United States welcomes the aspirations of Kazakhstan to become the first nation of the former Soviet Union to assume the chairmanship of the OSCE in 2009.”

However, he urged the Kazakh president to improve the country’s human rights record, which the State Department has described as “poor.”

“It is clear that any state wishing to assume the chairmanship [of the OSCE] must demonstrate that it can conduct free and fair elections for its national leadership,” Mr. Powell said.

He praised Kazakhstan’s “significant and much-appreciated efforts” to support the reconstruction of Iraq and Afghanistan and confirmed that the Bush administration will provide Kazakhstan with aid under legislation designed to help nations that support the United States in the war on terrorism.

“I commend your public commitment to accelerate the building of democracy, the rule of law and civil society in Kazakhstan and to cooperate more closely with the OSCE,” Mr. Powell said.

He called on Mr. Nazarbayev to demonstrate his public statements by releasing two opposition figures who “have been severely punished for more than a year in prison.”

Mr. Powell said Kazakhstan’s “international reputation and its aspirations” to chair the OSCE are being damaged by the continuing confinement of journalist Sergei Duvanov, convicted in a controversial rape case, and Galzymzhan Zhakianov, a former governor of Pavlodar province, sentenced to seven years on corruption charges.

Mr. Powell reminded Mr. Nazarbayev of promises he made to President Bush in December 2001 “to promote freedom and pluralism in Kazakhstan’s media environment, including the right of the media to criticize the country’s elected leaders.”

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison @washingtontimes.com.

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