Brazil’s Fingerprinting: Good to Catch Sex Tourists

     Brazil's Fingerprinting: 
Good to Catch Sex Tourists

    Many U.S. citizens
    visit foreign lands to engage in illegal activity that
    would be more seriously persecuted in the United States such
    as soliciting of sex. Brazil’s upcoming Carnaval attracts millions
    of tourists lured by sex and drugs, so the whole fingerprinting
    thing wouldn’t be such a bad idea to help the Brazilian police.
    by: Ernest
    Barteldes

    Shortly after the Bush government began fingerprinting and photographing foreign
    visitors from countries whose nationals need visas to enter U.S. territory,
    Brazilian Federal judge Julier Sebastião da Silva ordered that U.S.
    citizens would have to be treated likewise upon entering that country. The
    Brazilian judge’s decision, which received mixed reactions from the international
    community, is based on the principle of reciprocity.

    According to the judge’s
    reasoning, if Brazilian nationals should be treated differently than those
    of 21 other countries who do not need to go through the process (mostly members
    of the EU) here, it is quite logical that Americans should be singled out
    in foreign lands (a similar measure was suggested in Greece, but their government
    turned down the idea).

    While Secretary of State,
    Colin Powell, criticized the measure as "discriminatory" and "hostile"
    in a statement to Brazil Foreign Minister, Celso Amorim, I must say that I
    was among the few people on this side of the U.S. border to applaud judge
    Silva’s decision.

    First of all, I feel that
    massive fingerprinting of foreign nationals not only is incredibly questionable
    (for instance, what does the government really plan to do with the data? What
    about civil liberties?), but also reeks of political correctness, which I
    believe has gone too far in this country.

    I am positive that, had
    the Department for Homeland Security begun profiling solely nationals of Muslim
    nations, which are terrorist "hot spots" —as Israeli airline
    El Al routinely does—, the PC police would have had a ball in the press,
    and that is just the kind of thing a politician with any horse sense would
    want to avoid, especially in an election year.

    So, it is easier to create
    a smokescreen to pretend that we are protecting the country by creating a
    massive database of foreign visitors while the fact that many possible terrorists
    will not need to go through the process.

    For instance, few remember
    that the shoe bomber was a British national who, at this time, would have
    been dismissed from the requirement had he planned to conduct his mischievous
    plans in U.S. territory.

    Now, before you start
    kicking and screaming in rage, let me clarify one thing: I do believe that
    something must be done to protect innocent people (citizen or not) from terrorist
    acts like those that happened on 9/11, but I also believe that the methods
    of the Bush camp are dangerously fallible, and I think I am not going out
    on a limb here, also unconstitutional.

    If memory doesn’t fail,
    the U.S. Constitution grants everyone equal protection in face of the law.
    If that is the case, why are we granting differentiated treatment to the citizens
    of some other countries? If we should create such a database, shouldn’t everyone
    entering this country be photographed and fingerprinted? I would think so,
    and that is also the argument used by judge Silva, who stated that if the
    U.S. government granted Brazilian nationals the same treatment given to those
    of the said 21 nations, they would do the same there.

    Some would say that Brazil
    is not a target of international terrorism, as Rio de Janeiro Bar Organization
    Octavio Gomes wrote in the daily O Globo recently, and that their measure
    is simply vengeful. But then again, there are many U.S. citizens who visit
    foreign lands to engage in illegal (if not criminal) activity that would be
    more seriously persecuted here, such as soliciting of sex, use of readily
    available leisure drugs and others.

    The upcoming Carnaval
    smorgasbord attracts millions of tourists who visit Brazil lured by specifically
    those, um, attractions, so the whole registration thing wouldn’t be such a
    bad idea for them either.

    I also believe that once
    U.S. citizens feel how it is to be on that other end of the stick, they might
    just press for the end of the whole process in favor of something more effective.

    But the bottom line is
    that if the U.S. has the right to indiscriminately create files on foreign
    visitors here as a measure to thwart terrorist activity even if such country
    has no history of acts of that kind, other nations have the same right to
    do so in their lands for whatever reason they see fit—and we should not
    be whining about it.


    Ernest Barteldes is an ESL and Portuguese teacher. In addition to that,
    he is a freelance writer who has regularly been contributing The Greenwich
    Village Gazette since September 1999. His work has also been published
    by Brazzil, The Staten Island Advance, The Staten Island
    Register, The SI Muse, The Villager, GLSSite and
    other publications. He lives in Staten Island, NY. He can be reached at
    ebarteldes@yahoo.com

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