Nieman fellow’s visa denial decried
The National Association of Hispanic Journalists called on the US government yesterday to rescind its denial of a travel visa to Colombian journalist Hollman Morris.
Morris has been invited to join other journalists at Harvard University with a prestigious Nieman fellowship, but will not be allowed to travel to the United States after being denied a visa under the “terrorist activities’’ section of the USA Patriot Act.
Watchdog groups say it’s no more than an attempt by an angry government to discredit a crusading journalist.
“It’s quite disturbing, indeed, especially in light of the fact that Mr. Morris’s work has been praised by US State Department officials,’’ said Michele Salcedo, president of the Hispanic journalists group. “Our government in the past has seen fit to acknowledge his very strong journalistic work, but yet we have denied his visa.’’
Morris, 41, produces a television program called “Contravia.’’ It is highly critical of ties between illegal far-right militias and allies of President Alvaro Uribe of Colombia, Washington’s closest ally in Latin America.
In 2007, Human Rights Watch praised him for “an unswerving commitment to justice.’’ But Uribe has accused Morris of collaborating with rebels of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC.
The FARC is listed as a terrorist group by the State Department. The United States has given Colombia $500 million a year since 2000 to combat the FARC and drug trafficking.
On Feb. 3, 2009, Uribe called Morris “an accomplice of terrorism’’ after he showed up to cover the FARC’s release of four members of the Colombian security force it had held.
Morris is listed in a 2005 Colombian memo as showing “opposition tendencies.’’
Material from the Associated Press was used in this report. John M. Guilfoil can be reached at email@example.com.