Denied visa affects more than one person

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Call it serendipity. On Tuesday, March 18, a woman from the Philippines, sponsored by The Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace, was denied a visa to visit Atlantic Canada for a speaking tour which had been very well planned and anticipated.

The Canadian Embassy in the Philippines apparently rejected the application.

Glenda Alawiran-Plaza is, according to church bulletins who advertised her visit, “the area manager of a collation of grassroots peoples’ organizations that works towards achieving sustainable rural development. (It) is based on the belief that the poor can make positive economic and social change for themselves.”

On the same day I heard the meetings were cancelled, a neighbour gave me a copy of an article I had written for the Scaroborough Missions Magazine following my visit to the Phillipines in 1986. I reread my article about people who had been harassed, intimidated, some tortured, raped and even murdered for asking for the most basic of human rights and for trying to protect their small farms from being taken over by multinationals who wanted their drinking water or their rich soil or their minerals.

I reflected that Glenda’s information about the life of the landless and the poor in the Phillipines and in other developing countries had not changed much since my visit. Whether multinational companies want water rights for bottled water production, land for mega-agricultural projects, or mining rights in area where people subsist by small-scale farming, the use of intimidation to drive poor people off their land seems acceptable to the multinationals as well as to the pertinent governments.

Glenda wanted to bring us a message of hope: that organizations like hers give the poor a voice, are really making a difference, and our support is appreciated and needed.

You could say that the marginalized and the poor for whom she spoke were denied a visa.


Mary McCormack

former worker for Development and Peace

Organizations: Canadian Embassy, Scaroborough Missions Magazine

Geographic location: Philippines

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