Saturday, May 20, 2017

Fight the Government, Get a Residence Visa

Foreign FARC guerrillas may soon have these.

The news that as part of the FARC guerrillas' peace deal with the government, foreigners in the rebels' ranks will be able to get Colombian residence visas is sure to frustrate many of us foreigners here. After all, we suffered thru round after round of red tape and paperwork, as well as paying fee after fee, to obtain and renew our Colombian visas, before finally obtaining an 'indefinite visa' after 5 years' continuous residence.

Of course, during all that time we had to stay on the right side of the law, and can lose the visa because of criminal misconduct.

So, it seems very unfair that people who have spent years aiding and abetting, if not actually participating in, severe crimes like extortion, kidnapping, drug trafficking and even murder, will be awarded visas just because those crimes were supposedly committed for a political purpose - to overthrow that same government which will now award them a visa.

Of course, it's questionable how many foriegn ex-FARC guerrillas will actually want to live in Colombia. After all, their fight was to turn Colombia into a socialist 'paradise', but the country remains decidedly capitalist.

The media estimates there are about 20 foreigners in the FARC, from Europe and other Latin
Tanja Nijmeijer, Dutch citizen and FARC member.
American nations. The most famous of those is Dutch citizen Tanja Nijmeijer, who was part of the guerrillas' negotiating team in Havana, Cuba.

But this absurdity is just one of the smallest of many prices Colombia is paying in order to, hopefully, move closer to peace.

Afterthought: As arbitrary and infuriating as Colombia's visa process is, it was nothing compared to that in Bolivia, where I had to visit the visa office on a near-daily basis for nearly a year, getting everything signed in triplicate and paying notaries and lawyers for this, that and everything. When I finally got my work visa, my job had already ended. More intelligent people just crossed the border every few months, or paid a bribe and got their visa immediately.

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

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