CISPES responds to Consul General Carl Cockburn


Dear Mr. Cockburn,

This is in response to your letter defending the denial of avisa to Ms. Maria de los AngelesPleitez Carcamo. Once again, I ask thatyou reconsider her case given that she has already provided all the necessary documentsto make her eligible for a non-immigrant visa to come to the U.S. on a3-week educational speaking tour.

Your assertion that Ms. Pleitez did not prove her social andeconomic ties to El Salvadoris simply false.  Ms. Pleitez broughtmore documents than many other Salvadorans who have been granted visas forCISPES tours, including proof of having young children and full-time,professional employment as a nurse.   Ina country with an extraordinarily high unemployment rate, how is this alone notenough to prove sufficient ties to El Salvador? 

Although you state in your letter that it would be entirelyirresponsible for anyone to attach a political explanation to this matter, wefind no other explanation for her denial. The consular officer questioned Ms. Pleitez specifically about thenature of her relationship to CISPES and about her union participation questions that are clearly political in nature.

By denying someone with clear social and economic ties to El Salvador a visa while questioning her abouther political work, the U.S. Consulate in El Salvador is the one actingirresponsibly.   Ms. Pleitezs fellowunion members have been targets of recent government repression and arrests dueto their educational work and protests against the Salvadoran governmentsprivatization plans.  The denial of thisvisa makes the consulate complicit in the closing of democratic spaces in El Salvador,helping to further silence those who express opposition to government policy.

CISPES has been organizing educational tours for the past 27years. In all those years we have never had a touree overstay his or her visa;rather, they have all returned to El Salvador to their work andfamilies. Ms Peitez showed that, like all our past invited Salvadoran guests,her participation in this tour is intended only to contribute to peopleseducation in the UnitedStates and to foster the exchange of ideasabout social justice, democracy, and human rights.  For this reason, I ask that you reconsider hercase and grant her a visa.



Burke Stansbury

CISPES Executive Director

Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador

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