Waskar Ari: The Bolivian historian denied a US visa

Historians in the News

Waskar Ari Chachaki is an ill-fated victim of the War on Terror. Born in the remote Andean highlands of Bolivia, by age 42 he had earned a Ph.D. from prestigious Georgetown University. Ari, the first member of the pre-Incan Aymara tribe with a doctorate in history from the United States, also helped establish eight indigenous organizations in Bolivia and Peru. He's an expert in indigenous history, culture and political movements.

But American students may never benefit from his singular perspective.

"I'm exiled in my own country," Ari says from La Paz, where he now resides after eight years living in the United States.

For the past one-and-a-half years, the U.S. government has refused to grant Ari a visa to teach at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln.

Attorney Michael Maggio says the case is another instance of ideological exclusion -- a practice that has grown exponentially since 9/11. Before, these cases "weren't very common" and "usually involved someone of prominent stature, such as [former Chilean president] Salvador Allende's widow," says Maggio, who has fought such cases for more than 20 years and is representing Ari for free.

Ari first moved to the United States in 1996 on a student visa. He studied, taught, and traveled in and out of the country for eight years with no problems, then returned to Bolivia in late May 2005, for what he expected to be a short stay.

The University of Nebraska petitioned the government for a professional, H1-B visa for Ari on June 13, 2005.

They're still waiting. ...

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