We’ve been relentlessly teased about visa restrictions between Argentina and the US being lifted and finally, for Argentines, being able to travel to US without coughing up US $160 to only spend an additional US $100 to take a picture with
a goddamn overhyped mouse Mickey Mouse. But take heart, people: Foreign Minister Susana Malcorra today confirmed that a discussion of visa restrictions is definitely on the agenda for US President Barack Obama’s visit next week.
“We’ve begun working to eventually recover Argentine’s ability to not have to have a visa,” Malcorra said on Radio Nacional.
“Over the course of [Obama’s] visit, there will be some announcements regarding concrete short-term measures and a work plan to eventually go back to the position we were in were a while back.”
Vague, I know. The ”position we were in a while back” most likely refers to the period under former President Carlos Menem (1989 – 1999) during which Argentines could travel to the US without having to obtain a visa. In 1996, Argentina became the first Latin American country to join the United State’s Visa Waiver Program, which allows citizens of included countries to travel to the US for tourism or business for up to 90 days without having to get a visa.
But the fun was short-lived because due to the Argentine financial crisis of 2001, which many Argentines relocate to the US, as well as the September 11th terrorist attacks, which triggered heightened security measures.
“I have to say that the US also made controls a lot stricter after what happened with the Twin Towers and this means that we have to work hard to reach this objective [lifting requirement],” Malcorra said.
Today, Chile is the lone Latin American representative in Visa Waiver Program made up of 38 countries. Currently, Argentines need to pay US $160 (the same amount US citizens need to pay to visit Argentina) to visit the US. Members of the Visa Waiver Program just need to get an electronic authorization that costs US $14.
Last year, the US embassy in Buenos Aires was the second in the world, behind the embassy in Beijing to grant the most visas to people traveling to the US.
Maybe Obama’s visit will help pave the groundwork to an agreement so you can finally stop paying money to have the right to spend your money in another country.