- The following occurred to a friend of mine...
- ATROCITIES IN AMERICAN AIRPORTS
- If you, or someone from your family, have any plan to
visit the US in a near future, I strongly suggest you to continue reading
this text, where I describe the experiences I had in LA International Airport,
late Feb 24, 2002.
- My name is Ricardo Abude E. Da Silva, I'm an Electronic
Engineer graduated in 1982 and today am managing our family's businesses
in the farming sector. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org . Throughout
my 42 years of age I've travelled several times to the US, both on business
and tourism. Late Feb 23 I embarked in Rio heading to LA, in possession
of my third Visa to the US, issued in November 1999, and valid until November
- I was aware of the increased airport security for US
trips, due to Sep 11 attacks, and in Rio International Airport one can
already notice the routine change, but I could have never imagined what
would happen next.
- From now on I describe, step by step, the horrendous
and unimaginable nightmare that I went through :
- Saturday Feb 23 21:50 hrs I depart from Rio with Varig
flight RG 8836, going to LA.
- Sunday Feb 24 07:00 hrs I arrive in LA and proceed
towards passport control. The officer looks at my Passport for about five
minutes, and asks me to proceed towards an INS office known as 'Secondary
One'. It is the first time something like that happens to me, but I imagine
I´m going to be interviewed for additional information concerning
my stay. 'Extra safety measures....' I thought.
- Sunday Feb 24 07:30 hrs A Second officer asks me to
collect all my luggage and accompany him inside Secondary One. "...the
interview is going to be in there." I thought again. All of a sudden,
I am brutally pushed inside a 2x2 yd cell, all my luggage, money, documents
and personnal belongings are confiscated, and they take away my belt and
shoe strings. As I protest against the unexpected treatment, the two officers
respond with loud screams and threats of beating me and keeping me confined.
I am violently pushed against the wall, they frisk me from head to toe,
and all my personnal belongings are searched. Again I´m pushed against
the wall, my picture is taken, I'm fingerprinted and am finally thrown
into a filthy, stinky, unventilated hall, already crowded with people.
I notice, by their looks, that they've gone through the same 'ritual',
and even though I am still stunned by the long flight, the jet lag, and
mainly by the violent, outraging disrespect of civil and human rights,
I face the crude fact of life "there's no such thing as interviews
- I'm a prisoner."
- Sunday Feb 24 09:00 hrs The scene resembles a Greek
tragedy, a 4x4 yd room, filthy chairs, a stinking black carpet, no ventilation,
huge 50" TV turned on all the time volume blasting. Tired, hungry
people, sick people, people throwing up....worried about a friend, who
was waiting for me outside the airport I ask for a phone call.
- - "Shut-up! No phone calls." - They answered.
- Sunday Feb 24 10:00 hrs Arrested, hungry, thirsty,
no communication, and without the slightest ideia of what was going to
happen next, I noticed the continuos flow of tourists coming to our cell
and I face the degrading scandal the very same treatment is given to women,
teenagers, children even elderly people a truly barbarian act ! Revolted,
I witness two INS officers arguing over the priviledge of frisking the
prettiest ladies, without any concern of hiding their sickening lust from
their respective fathers, husbands or brothers, doing their commentaries,
invitations, and obscene declarations right on their faces.
- - "I've just frisked a disgusting latino....now
it's my turn to frisk this Italian fox !" stated an Officer to his
coleague, refering to the wife of an Italian tourist. The blunt disrespect
made my stomach churn in revolt....
- Kicking, pushing, screaming, threathening, heavily armed
bullies displayed their brutallity, prejudice, and arrogance upon the constant
flow of tourists coming into our cell, getting more and more crowded by
the minute, holding an unbearable stench....
- Sunday Feb 24 14:00 hrs After seven hours of ordeal,
I'm finally taken to an almost surrealistic "interview" with
Officer Sanchez, and Officer Lee, both subordinate to Officer Green, from
INS. He "explains" to me that since all my papers and my Visa
were in perfect order, he would "kindly" give me two options
- - The first was to sign a document in which I "requested"
the withdrawal of my Visa, returning to Brazil in the first available flight.
- - If I refused to sign the hoax I'd be arrested for an
undetermined period and he'd start a compulsory deportation process, sending
me back to my Country thus.
- A important detail on the "deal" - so long
as I refused to sign the document I'd not receive any food, or water. What
would you choose? Oh well, me, too.
- Sunday Feb 24 16:00 hrs I am taken, with another five
"prisoners" to a different cell. We are all handcuffed, and escorted
by armed officers, we are made to stroll through the airport lounge. The
terrified tourists make way, frightened by the grotesque scene. They take
us all to a van, parked outside the terminal, and transfer us to the other
cell. The humiliation is suffocating ....
- - Sunday Feb 24 17:00 hrs Apparently, they have forgotten
to make me sign a few forms at the Secondary One, so I'm taken again for
a couple of strolls ( going there and coming back ) in the Airport Lounge.
Those strolls remember are with cuffs and 'escorts.'
- Sunday Feb 24 18:00 hrs Due to my unceasing protests,
they finally allow me to make a phone call. I contact a Lawyer in LA, in
the hope he´d get me out of that hell, but the information I get
from him is even more surprising, and disheartening:
- - "Ricardo, the INS grounds at the Airport are not
legally considered American soil, so I cannot invoke any civil right to
take you out of there..." he tells me. How about that ???
- In other words, I realize I'm in a no-man's land, a lawless
place, arrested by arbitrary Nazis in the guise of INS Officers, that,
due to this legal technicality, have the power to do whatever they please
with you and what is worse with your family. I start to dream of the moment
of catching a plane back home to Brazil.....however, before that, I'd still
have to go through the worst night of my life.....
- Night of Sunday to Monday Feb 25 I start to dread the
moment in which tiredness is going to win the battle and make me lie down
on those filthy chairs. It´s very cold, but even so, the prospect
of using the slimy blankets is not at all attractive. Five officers are
in the night shift, and feeling bored, they pass time kicking "disgusting
Chinese", cursing "stupid niggers", threatening "filthy
latinos". Our uneducated officers are unable to articulate three consecutive
words without using the "F.." word, and we spend the night immersed
in this sea of racial prejudice, brutallity, violence, arrogance and cowardice.
- A curious note : our cell had two immense posters hanging
on the walls. Look at that one was a huge map of Brazil, and the other
was a picture of Ouro Preto, an historical city in Central Brazil. Both
seemed to convey a silent, but eloquent invitation .....
- Monday Feb 25 13:00 hrs After the worse 30 hours of
my life, two armed officers escort me to my plane ( Varig flight RG 8837
) and deliver my passport to the stewardess. They set guard by the plane
door until take off. Just a last minute humiliation I guess....
- Tuesday Feb 26 07:30 hrs I arrive tired, but immensely
happy in Cumbica International Airport, in SP. I call my girlfriend Sarah
in Belo Horizonte. After her recovery from the initial shock and the necessary
explanations I invite her to celebrate our unexpected meeting with a trip
to Ouro Preto, of course!
- I relate this unfortunate episode hoping to bring these
facts to light, to a wider number of people. Maybe those who, like me,
were planning an innocent trip to this country might think twice before
permitting their wifes, parents and children to be subjected to this infamous
tribe of uncivilized barbarians. Daily, in every American Airport, hundreds
of people from the four corners of the world are falling into the claws
of these arrogant, racist, brutes, barbarian Nazis, and I think every single
citizen of the globe shall contribute in whichever way they can to end
this grotesc stain from the face of the free world.
- The terrorists put down WTC twin towers, but they will
achieve a far greater victory if they succeed in bending down the spirit,
the values and ideals that guided America since it's very birth as an independent
- Having visited the US so many times, and knowing with
reasonable depth the history of this Country, I must say that the attitudes
and methods of the INS Officers do not reflect the way of being and thinking
of the majority of the American People, and surely do not reflect the values
and ideals I referred to above. However, the overwhelming majority of the
thousands of tourists that are going daily through this sad experience
in American Airports do not have this perspective, and they are going back
to their countries carrying in their hearts the seeds of hatred, violence
and intolerance that end up germinating in tragedies such as Sep 11.
- To Mr G. Bush one suggestion: in the attempt to erradicate
the World of terrorism and it's "Evil Axis", start at home in
the American Immigration and Naturalization Service INS.
- A very important note: this narrative would not be complete
without doing justice to Victor, one of the INS officers. He came into
our cell Monday morning. Right when I lay my eyes on him I noticed a different
glow, quickly explained by his attitudes he'd take care of one of us, feed
and give water to another, he was always ready to help, at least send a
smile, say a friendly word.... He moved like a star, shedding light into
the darkness. I had the priviledge to talk with him for a few minutes,
when I had the chance to convey my admiration, respect and gratitude for
what he was doing for all those people, brutally subjected to such a painful
experience. Son of Mexican Immigrants, educated in India, and possessing
a spirituality impossible to hide behind such shinning eyes, this man,
who represents so well the best of the East and the West told me simply
"Ricardo, I don't do much, all I can do is try to transmit to these
people a little compassion, a little love...."
- May God always guard you and bless you Victor, as you
guard and bless so many.... A last suggestion to the US President: consider
promoting Victor to the post of Foreign Relations Minister, what he deserves
more than anyone. I'm certain that, in a very short time, he'd reverse
the already beaten up image of the US with the rest of the world. His attitude
reflect perfectly the spirit and the values that have created America,
and proves that one cannot possilbly combat terrorism by becoming himself
a terrorist one should employ that ancient technique: turning the other
- Finally, I want to say that I have already done the following
- * Filed a formal complain at the American Embassy in
- * Filed a formal complain at the Brazilian Foreign Affairs
- * Send a copy of this text in Portuguese and in English
to the Internet, newspapers, magazines, websites, and Human Rights International
- * I hereby authorize any individual or corporation to
divulge or reproduce this text partially or in its entirety, making it
a public domain, as I believe this case is.
- May God bless us all.
- Ricardo Abude E. da Silva