(JAMAICA OBSERVER) The local political directorate was desperately seeking answers from their counterparts in the United States yesterday as it became public that the American visitors’ visas of minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation Daryl Vaz and People’s National Party (PNP) Vice-President Phillip Paulwell had been revoked.
At least six members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force, believed to be former members of the now disbanded Mobile Reserve, were also issued with letters that their visas had been revoked.
Late yesterday, Jamaica Observer sources, who first informed the newspaper that the visas of the two politicians had been revoked, refused to name the policemen or their rank, but said the US moved against them because of allegations that members of the Mobile Reserve were involved in extrajudicial killings before it was disbanded.
As is customary, there was no word from the US Embassy in Kingston, which has repeatedly said it does not comment on individual visa matters.
In confirming receipt of correspondence from the US Embassy in Kingston Vaz noted that the letter stated that his visa had been revoked but provided no details on the reason.
“Subsequent to the visa issuance, information has come to light that you may be ineligible for a visa. If you would like to travel to the United States, you must reapply,” Vaz read from the letter.
He said he has advised Prime Minister Andrew Holness of the issue and has since initiated, through the formal procedures and protocols, the process of seeking clarification to determine his eligibility to be issued a United States visa.
“I have a commitment to serve the people of Jamaica and in particular the people, of West Portland, who have elected me to represent them since 2007,” Vaz told the Observer.
“I will continue to serve the people although I am prepared to walk away. I see no reason for me to act prematurely while a final determination has not been made,” added Vaz, who is adamant that there is no reason for his US visa to be revoked.
According to Vaz, as a public figure he is obligated to keep Jamaicans updated on the outcome of the process to appeal the revocation, which has been formally lodged.
He said he is committed to pursuing the matter concerning the revocation of his US visa with the aim of a positive result.
In 2008, Vaz renounced his US citizenship following the ruling in the dual citizenship case which was brought against him.
For his part Paulwell, who is part of a PNP delegation attending a conference of progressive parties in Cuba at the invitation of the Communist Party of Cuba, said he was also advised that he should reapply for a US visa if he intends to travel to the US.
Paulwell, who had early yesterday denied knowing that his visa had been revoked, said he is not aware of any reason, nor has he been told of any which could have motivated the US authorities to act in such a manner as to the revocation of his visa.
He reiterated that on his return to the island he will address the matter immediately, as he intends to be in touch with the US Embassy in Kingston.
This is not the first time in recent years that the US has revoked the visitors’ visas of prominent Jamaicans.
In late 2016 the visas of three senior attorneys and a family member of one of the attorneys were all revoked during a stand-off with the Holness Administration over its failure to cancel the spectrum licence granted to Symbiote Investments Limited, which trades as Caricel.
The spectrum licence was subsequently cancelled although the matter remains before the court.