Rebel turned congressman may finally get U.S. visa
RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (AP) -- A former rebel who now serves in
Brazil's congress may finally be going to the United States, a country that has
barred him from its shores.
U.S. immigration laws have long blocked Fernando Gabeira from visiting
America because he helped orchestrate the kidnapping of a U.S.
ambassador in 1969.
However, the 57-year-old lawmaker has recently been appointed as a
congressional observer to the U.N. General Assembly, which will meet later
this month in New York.
"It's been a long fight" to gain entry into the United States, Gabeira
Associated Press. "But this time it will be much more difficult for them to say
U.S. Embassy spokesman Terry Davidson said, "Until we receive a visa
application from Mr. Gabeira, we have no official position."
Gabeira, the lone congressional representative of Brazil's Green Party,
his days of anti-Americanism are long over. "The U.S. government must
overcome its incapacity to forget the past," he said.
In his latest attempt to get a visa, Gabeira was refused entry in January
attend the New York premiere of "Four Days in September," a movie about
the kidnapping of U.S. Ambassador Charles Burke Elbrick.
Elbrick, who received a blow to the head, was held for four days and
released after the then-military dictatorship allowed 15 political prisoners to
be flown out of the country.
Gabeira, who was later shot and nearly killed by military agents, was
released himself in a prisoner exchange for a kidnapped German
ambassador. After spending nine years in exile, he returned to Brazil under a
Gabeira has made radical changes in his life since his days as a member
the left-wing MR-8, the revolutionary group that nabbed Elbrick as he drove
These days, the congressman's fights include saving the Amazon, promoting
gay and indigenous rights and legalizing nudity on Brazilian beaches. He now
says that "violence is not the right response, under any circumstances."
If Gabeira comes for the U.N. meeting, he could be restricted to a 24-mile
limit of New York as was Cuban leader Fidel Castro during his last visit to
the United Nations, a U.S. official said.
Copyright 1998 The Associated Press.