The U.S. Embassy will this evening in Dangriga meet with members of Belize’s entertainment industry, represented by the Music Industry Association of Belize (MIAB) and the newly formed Belize Association of Producers & Promoters (BAPP) to discuss arrangements for travel visas to the United States to perform. Soca Queen Ernestine Carballo was the victim of visa revocation last month when she traveled to New York City for a performance, only to be stopped on landing in the United States and told that her visa had been revoked. She blamed the promoter, but the fact remains that artists and entertainers are granted a different class of visa than ordinary visitors as they are there for a specific and special purpose. Carballo’s ordeal prompted 2 private citizens, promoters Barbara Norales and Cornelius Cayetano, to call on the U.S. Embassy to discuss arranging a session on visa applications for those in the entertainment industry. The presentation will be made by Vice Consul at the Embassy, Matthew Hughes. Norales, who also promotes some local musicians, spoke to our colleagues at KREM News via telephone today.
Barbara Norales, Organizer: Me and Cornelous Cyatano decided let’s address the situation and so we made an appointment to visit the council, the embassy in Belmopan and requested that the embassy send somebody here to speak to our artist community about this type of Visa because people have too many misconceptions. Ever since we came up with the idea the embassy had agreed that they would have sent the vice council, Matthew Hues here. We have been on the ground, myself and Cornelous, we’ve been on the ground going door to door to artist. We have local advertisement on tv and radio here in Dangriga, and we’ve been getting support from different places. Artists as far as Corozal, Belize City, and different parts of the country said they’re coming to this meeting tonight.
According to Norales, it is time to educate those in the entertainment industry on the do’s and don’ts in travelling:
Barbara Norales, Organizer: I think it’s a common practice with artists, and it’s a common practice with producers and promoters abroad, because I think that half the time, as artist and promoters and producers we know what to request from the promoters abroad so they don’t know. So the promoters just do what they usually do. So once the promoters are able to provide that necessary document that they need from the US, then it will be okay for the artist. So I think everything begins with education and I think it’s time for that conversation to start.
Other presenters include Al Obando from MIAB, and Andazzi Panton of BAPP