Estados Unidos le negó la visa al periodista colombiano Hollman Morris, quien ha estado en Nueva York en varias ocasiones y se especializa en investigaciones sobre los derechos humanos, la violencia, el paramilitarismo y los desplazados en Colombia.

Fuentes diplomáticas reportaron que la solicitud de visa del periodista Hollman Morris fue rechazada por el gobierno de Estados Unidos el 16 de junio. Sin embargo, aún se desconocen los motivos de la negativa.

El periodista necesitaba la visa ya que fue seleccionado como uno de los becarios del programa de la Fundación Nieman en la Universidad de Harvard, para el período académico 2010-2011.

Morris dirigió el programa Contravía, en el que investigaba violaciones a los derechos humanos y presentaba una mirada crítica sobre el conflicto armado en Colombia.

«La decisión nos sorprendió, pero estamos comprometidos a hacer lo que esté en nuestras manos para lograr que Hollman esté aquí en el otoño», dijo Bob Giles, el curador de la Fundación Nieman, citado por The Progressive. El programa de la beca Nieman para los galardonados este año comienza en septiembre.

El trabajo investigativo de Morris ha sido reconocido con varios galardones. El 28 de junio fue homenajeado en la Universidad Javeriana por su «valiente trabajo periodístico».

El periodista Hollman Morris.

ESTA ES UNA ACTUALIZACION DE LA NOTICIA EN INGLES DEL NIEMAN FOUNDATION (Jilio 14, 2010)

I want to give you a quick update on the case of Hollman Morris, the Colombian journalist whose visa application has been rejected by the U.S. government. Hollman was set to come here to Harvard for the next year under a Nieman Fellowship. He has produced journalism critical of the Colombian government, and that appears to have been a factor in why the State Department took the extraordinary step of preventing an honored journalist from entering the country.

My boss, Nieman Foundation curator Bob Giles, wrote an op-ed in The Los Angeles Times explaining why the State Department should reverse its decision. Read the whole thing, but here are a couple excerpts:

In the 60 years that foreign journalists have participated in the Nieman program, they have sometimes had trouble getting their own countries to allow them to come. The foundation’s first brush with the harsh reality of journalism under repressive regimes came in 1960, when Lewis Nkosi, a black South African and writer for Drum, a magazine for black South Africans, was awarded a fellowship. His application for a passport was denied by the country’s apartheid government. Angry and bitter, he applied for an exit visa. It enabled him to leave, but he was forbidden to ever return.

Morris, though, is the first person in Nieman history to be denied the right to participate not by his own country but by ours. The denial is alarming. It would represent a major recasting of press freedom doctrine if journalists, by establishing contacts with so-called terrorist organizations in the process of gathering news, open themselves to accusations of terrorist activities and the possibility of being barred from travel to the United States.

[…]

The Nieman Foundation invites foreign journalists to join its class of fellows, in part because it is good for the U.S. participants to gain an international perspective, but also as a way of rewarding and nurturing excellence in foreign journalism. During the struggle to remove racial barriers in South Africa, Nieman Fellowships were awarded annually to South African journalists, who carried democratic and journalistic values home with them. Many went on to brazenly employ their editorial leadership to challenge the government and help bring an end to apartheid.

Several endangered journalists have come to the Nieman program from Colombia, where 43 journalists have been killed since 1992. In 2000, Ignacio Gomez, a young investigative reporter, was forced to flee after his newspaper, El Espectador, published stories in which Colombian police and military were linked with violent right-wing paramilitaries. In one of the stories, a Colombian military colonel was said to have masterminded the 1997 massacre in Mapiripan, in which right-wing paramilitaries killed nearly 30 people for allegedly supporting left-wing guerrillas. Gomez received hundreds of death threats after that article was published.

The Nieman Foundation program has been a safe, if temporary, refuge for foreign journalists like Hollman Morris, who are targets because they have challenged dictators and privileged oligarchs. Their experiences inspire others in the fellowship and beyond, and contribute to a greater appreciation of our constitutional guarantees of press freedom. It makes no sense that the U.S. government would intervene to prevent a journalist access to learning about the freedoms we so cherish.