The visa scam
By Oscar Clarke
What the people say
March 27, 2000
In the wake of the recent exposure of a visa scam at the Georgetown consular section of the United States Embassy, where it has been revealed that a senior embassy official and a Guyanese national have been arrested in the US, the processing of non-immigrant visas at the Guyana location has been suspended. Stabroek News asked the man/woman in the street about the matter, and their views follow below.
Mohamed Ally - Assistant Manager, Private Sector: "I do not think that Guyanese should be victimised since they are not responsible for the actions of a US embassy official. They are punishing Guyanese for the wrongs of one of their own and I think that the decision should be reversed. Some people had already made plans to travel in the spring and up-coming summer season and they would be thrown out. This is a disadvantage to them."
Sean Patrick Bobb - Lecturer: "I think it is a case of Peter paying for Paul and Paul paying for all. I can't see why the blanket ban; instead they should concentrate on looking into officers and not on making Guyanese scapegoats. There are persons with credible applications who are being affected in the dragnet since it is a universal decision. This is a leap in the dark by the US authorities who are making local people pay for the dishonesty of a couple of persons."
Micheala France - Self Employed: "It is not fair to Guyanese. It is not their fault that the men were running the racket and that Khan was encouraged in his plans. Those applications in the system should be considered since we don't know how long the present suspension would go on for. People who want to go through the right channels are being turned down, and I hope that they fix a time limit to the period they are not issuing visas."
Patrick Defreitas - Self Employed: "They should not have gone that rash since a lot of innocent people are getting trapped by the suspension. Carroll was only catering for people with money and the poor were being victimised, and this suspension further victimises them. Those involved in the scam were only thinking about themselves. The embassy should place a time limit on the suspension period since it is hurting Guyanese more than benefiting them."
Ras Cecil Taylor - Vendor: "I feel that the US embassy should not do so since it is affecting decent minded people. It is fair that the US should investigate the matter, but not to the disadvantage of local people. I feel that they should not have introduced the suspension and Guyanese should protest the decision... Investigations could be done alongside the issuing of visas. Instead of stopping processing visa applications they should tighten up on their internal security...