Next Country: Paraguay

April 25, 2006
Day 209

The first order of the day for me was to make one last attempt at obtaining a Brazilian visa. I went back to the consulate when they opened at 10:00 and stood in a long line, patiently awaiting my chance to explain myself. When I got to the front of the line over 30 minutes later, I found out that my efforts were fruitless, for multiple reasons.

"You have to fill out your information in the computer first, then wait in this line," said the consulate employee. I wondered why the guy at the entrance told me to stand in line first, but as it turned out, that was the good news. When I started to walk away, the lady gave me the bad news: "Then I'll need your passport, one photo, your ticket to enter and leave Brazil, and $100 cash.

"But I don't have my ticket yet."

"Aren't you flying there?"

"No, I plan on taking a bus to Iguazu, then continue overland to the north. I'll probably exit Brazil in three months or so, but I'm not sure when yet."

"If you're not flying, you'll need a bus ticket into and out of the country."

"Didn't you hear me? I don't know when I'm leaving the country yet, or even where I'll be leaving from. It's called backpacking."

"Until you have the ticket, you can't go to Brazil."

I was too pissed off to say or do anything that might help my situation, so I left. I've been to 17 different foreign countries and have never been treated like this before. Still, I can't really be mad at Brazil.

There were no visa requirements for Americans to enter Brazil until about five years ago when the US government started charging Brazilians $100 to visit. The US government has long been notorious for treating all visitors like suspects in a crime, and Brazil has simply had enough and decided to to the same to Americans. It's really frustrating for me because I'm caught in the middle of two conflicting government bureaucracies, and I'm just a backpacker who wants to travel somewhere new. I guess I can cross Brazil off my list of destinations.

My next idea for places to go was Paraguay. Unfortunately, I need a visa to go there, too. On my way back from the Brazilian consulate, I stopped at the Paraguayan consulate. I decided that it probably wouldn't be worthwhile waiting there considering the line of at least 500 people stretching two city blocks. Back at the hostel, I learned that the line is there because this week, the Argentine government has agreed to legalize all Paraguayans who are currently in the country. Wow, this is my lucky day! It was already too late to try to go back to the consulate, but tomorrow I plan to try to skip ahead of that massive line on the grounds that I'm actually trying to go into Paraguay, not leave it permanently.

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2 thoughts on “Next Country: Paraguay

  1. Rohit

    I am not sure about the history or reason of why US goverment changed visa policy for Brazil, but I know living here is S. Florida there are lot of Brazilians here who I do not think came on a work visa. May be this is just to curve people entering US for visit and not leaving.

  2. Dan Perry Post author

    Here are some links concerning the Brazil visa issue:

    This one explains visas in general as well as reciprical visas:

    This talks about how the USA treats its foreign visitors and how Brazil has reciprocated:

    Here's Brazil's immigration website concerning visas. Notice how strict the dialog is. Almost all answers are "no:"

    Here's a link to the requirements of US citizens to enter Brazil. Notice the requirement of a round trip ticket both into and out of the country:

    All of this stuff is done simply because the USA does the same thing to Brazilian citizens. Brazil's policy is only to charge people for a visa if Brazilian citizens need to get a visa to enter that country. According to the visa application I read, US citizens aren't even allowed to work in Brazil, so that's probably why so many Brazilians didn't obtain the proper work visa to enter the US.

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