Brazilian economist and journalist Paulo de Tarso Venceslau, a former Brazilian guerrilla who in 1969 was involved in the abduction of US ambassador Charles Elbrick, has been extended a visa to travel to the United States by the consulate office in São Paulo.
According to Venceslau, the fact the American President Barack Obama administration agreed to extend him a visa marks a complete different attitude from the previous government of former president George Bush.
For three times the economist applied to visit the US and three times had the visa denied for being in a black list as a terrorist.
"I couldn't believe," he stated. "Most of the time I wouldn't get even to the first window. When I got there this time and the guy asked me why I wanted to go, I said: "To listen to a little of jazz in Chicago and New Orleans and walk around New York's cultural centers. He then checked the computer, looked at the papers and told me: "You got it." I thought: "I can't believe it. Are these new times? Has Obama really changed things?."
The news also recalls that current Social Communications minister Franklin Martins and Fernando Gabeira, member of Congress for the Green party were also involved in the kidnapping of Elbrick during Brazil's military regime (1964/1985). When Lula travels to the US he takes Martins's assistant with him since the minister himself was never able to enter the United States.
Congress member Gabeira had requested a visa during the administration of former President Bush but was rejected and impeded from traveling to the US.
Daniel Arão Reis, quoted in the daily O Estado de S. Paulo, and who in the sixties belonged to the organization which planned the abduction of the US ambassador, said that the Obama administration has adopted a more "liberal" position regarding former Brazilian guerrillas.
Reis argued that those who participated in the kidnapping of diplomats "have benefited from a Brazilian government amnesty" and are no longer believers in the armed struggle, so preventing them from traveling to United States "is a kind of punishment that doesn't make sense in our times."
Elbrick was exchanged for the liberation of fifteen political prisoners who were flown to Algeria. The kidnap was re-edited in the 1997 film "Four days in September" with Alan Arkin portraying Elbrick.
Gabeira was later caught, imprisoned, and then freed in another prisoner exchange, this time for the kidnapped West German ambassador. He lived in exile for ten years, returning to Brazil in 1979 taking advantage of a political amnesty.