Final Word from Tuesday, July 8, 2003

Jan Kavan retracted his claim that the U.S. was persecuting him and his family for his negative stance on the war in Iraq. Both his son and his son's girlfriend got their visa, and he said he accepted the U.S. embassy's assurance that the delays didn't have a political context. The Czech press has nearly ignored the issue. Kavan is widely seen as someone to be criticized, and reporting this could have brought him sympathy. Many Czechs have had unfavorable experiences in getting visas to visit the U.S., and it's only a small step from this to believing that the Americans use their visa policy to mete out punishment to those with differing views. In fact, several of our readers said they believed Kavan. Other readers said the major issue is the lack of clearly defined conditions for obtaining a visa. Several readers said the Kavan story is a reminder of the need for the U.S. to do away entirely with visas for Czechs.


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