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#3190: Foula Vodoule (fwd)


I am soliciting support from anyone who feels they may be in a position to do 
something to either protest or publicize the prejudicial decision against one 
of Haiti's most exciting, roots percussion groups, Foula Vodoule. 

The group was accepted to perform this coming weekend in Houston's 
International Festival, a weekend that draws more than a half million people. 
The group was also booked for a six-week tour this summer in Canada and the 
United States, with gigs at Lincoln Center and Kennedy Center. 

The INS granted the group a five-month P-3 visa (culturally significant 
group). But when the band members went for their interview at the American 
Consulate in Port-au-Prince, they were categorically denied because they 
could show no credible proof that they would return to Haiti. Few have 
"legitimate" jobs, only one has traveled outside Haiti, excluding Jean 
Raymond Giglio, group leader who has a green card, and none have "viable" 
bank accounts. It wasn't enough that the group has performed numerous times 
in Port-au-Prince over the last five years, and is one of the country's most 
popular Rara bands. Or that they have an extensive press package, including a 
CD. Despite interventions from senators' offices, a call from the State 
Department and the head of the Houston Festival, the Vice Consular Officer, 
Dennis Williams, stands firm in the Consulate's refusal.

It's unacceptable that such a group, which would be so well received by 
American audiences, is unable to share Haiti's rich musical heritage because 
of one or two bureaucrats. They place no importance on the fact that the 
music was so good that Lincoln and Kennedy Centers had invited them to 
perform. The Consulate's has an irreversible impact on the lives of the 
musicians, who had hoped to use this opportunity to show the world another 
side of Haiti.

This is an outrage, and although the Houston Festival has had to drop them 
from the venue due to timing restrictions, it may not be too late to reverse 
the decision for the summer, although Williams said that any change in the 
group's financial situation before the summer "would look suspicious." 

Jean Raymond, who is currently in Haiti, is available for interviews, for 
those in the media who wish to help publicize the discriminatory, arbitrary 
decision of the American Consular officers.  

Please let me know if you think you can do something to help Foula Vodoule's 
cause. I can be contacted offline at kklarreich@aol.com. 

Thanks in advance, Kathie Klarreich