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#4169: Foula Vodoule (fwd)
Several months ago I posted a request concerning the roots music group Foula
Vodoule. The group had received a five month "culturally significant" visa
from the INS which the American Consular Officer in Port-au-Prince denied.
I want to thank all the people who took the time to respond off the Corbett
List. Your concern and suggestions were appreciated greatly. Despite our
efforts, which involved help from senators from three different states, a
personal appeal from the directors of Lincoln Center and Kennedy Center where
the group was scheduled to perform, an inquiry from contacts at the State
Department and the American Embassy, the Consular Officer refused to
reconsider the appeal. Lincoln Center specifically offered a proposal that
restricted the length of time the group would have been in the States, as
well as several other measures that they thought would appeal to the Consular
Officer, but those were rejected, too.
Foula Vodoule was denied a visa in large part because they could not show
they had enough stability in the country to guarantee their return after
their tour abroad. They were discriminated against because they did not have
bank accounts or property titles. That they are integrally tied to Haiti
through their families, music, cultural and inspiration was given no
consideration, nor the fact that the most prestigious music halls in the
country invited them to perform.
During the interview at the American Consulate, the group was humiliated by
being asked to sing something for the officer, who stood behind a glass wall
while the group was in a crowd of some 40 other people. They felt they were
held in contempt by the person who interviewed them because she sat with
another person laughing and joking during the questioning. When the group
asked if there was a form which delineated what the consular officer was
looking for, they were told no such thing exists.
Those who appealed for the group's visa were also told the same thing. A
decision such as this is an arbitrary one on the part of the Consular
Officer, and ultimately the head of the US Consulate in Port-au-Prince. There
is no recourse.
This single decision has, in effect, destroyed the future of the band.
Without a visa, their dreams of performing have been squelched, as is the
possibility of their becoming economically solvent. The group will not be
able to get a contract like this again. Nor will they be able to secure a
contract with a US record label company, which normally expects a group to
As American citizens, we should not be silent about such an arbitrary,
discriminatory and racist decision. The group's wealth is in their talent,
music and ability to share their culture with the rest of the world, not
money or property. If any of you have connections with local media and would
like more information, would like to speak to the band directly, or would be
willing to write a letter to your local congressman protesting this decision,
please contact me. It's bad enough to have deprived the American public of
such a rich musical experience, but it's downright criminal to have denied
these talented, dedicated musicians the possibility of becoming an
international success, musically and financially.
Foula Vodoule's band leader is Jean Raymond Giglio. He can be reached in
Haiti at 557-7723. His address is #25 rue de Collines, Croix Deprez, Pacot
Thanks for your support. Kathie Klarreich