687. She’s on the list


What excitement! O what excitement! Seventeen-year old Gianella Lopez Fuentes from Chile had booked her flight to New Zealand. Her sister had married a New Zealander. They had a baby. They were paying for her trip. She would stay six months with them before beginning her studies at Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile in Villarrica. She would see her niece for the first time!

Gianella had $104 dollars in cash. But that was enough for costs on the flight. Her sister and husband would pick her up at the airport, and she would live with them for the six months, and help look after the baby. Her niece! After all, her sister and husband had visited Chile last year and stayed with Gianella’s family for three months and paid not a penny! It was family. That’s the way it worked.

Upon arrival, the Custom’s official noticed something. One hundred and four dollars for a six-month stay? You must be kidding. You’re going to look after someone’s baby? Sounds like work to me, and your visa is for three months and it’s not a work permit.

Gianella was put on the first flight back home to Chile. She never got to even wave to her sister at a distance.

Back home, Gianella was interrogated. Clearly, she’d been sent home on suspicion of terrorism. Today she can’t travel anywhere. She’s on the list.

36 thoughts on “687. She’s on the list

        1. Bruce Goodman Post author

          All over… it went rather well. About the 50th minute into it and someone waiting to sit their drivers license test complained to the authorities that the music was making them nervous! I asked if I should stop and the library said, no – keep going. However, it took the passion out of the Last Tango!

          1. Cynthia Jobin

            There’s not supposed to be passion in the library anyway, is there? Although… “The Last Tango In the Library” does sound more illicitly delicious than “The Last Tango in Paris.”

  1. Oscar Alejandro Plascencia

    But my, is she ever in a pickle. A pickled pepper I’d say. From traveling teen to terrorist just like that?! An astute example that the policy of truth is highly overrated! Something I’m certain she she thought about on the twelve and a half hour flight back.

  2. Cynthia Jobin

    It’s really dumb to take off for a six-month visit with a three-month visa. And you don’t need a work permit to visit family and help them out. And why was there no family there to meet her? If Gianella—candidate for the universidad—didn’t have good enough English to get out of this pickle, there’s something more wrong here than the mean bureaucracy. Sounds like a language/stupidity problem to me.

    1. Bruce Goodman Post author

      In the end, they apologized – she had simply been too enthusiastic – and did give her a free ticket back and a six month visa. (I added “the list” because I’m heavily into the drama queen scenario!)

    1. Keith Channing

      I’ve flown into the US four times in the past 15 years and never had any US currency with me. Back in the 80s I applied to the US embassy in UAE, where I was living at the time, for a visa to visit the US s part of a trip around the world, and the very large marine on the desk asked me how I intended to support myself while in his country. I popped my gold American Express card on the desk in front of him, fully expecting him to say “That’ll do nicely” like on the TV adverts of the day. He didn’t. He just said “Okay, Sir” and pushed it back at me.
      I was laid off shortly after that, and never did make the trip. I still have the “multiple indefinite” visa in my long-expired passport, though.

      1. Bruce Goodman Post author

        I simply said “I’m visiting friends”. That went to blazes after 9/11. So I went illegal. Applied for the green card/paid$12,000 to an immigration lawyer…. in the end drove to Canada and told the same lies, flew to New Zealand where my partner pays taxes and gets no government benefits… Can’t even see a doctor….


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