687. She's on the list
© Bruce Goodman 28 August 2015

What excitement! O what excitement! Seventeen-year old Gianella Lopez Fuentes from Chile had booked her flight to New Zealand. Her sister had married a New Zealander. They had a baby. They were paying for her trip. She would stay six months with them before beginning her studies at Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile in Villarrica. She would see her niece for the first time!

Gianella had $104 dollars in cash. But that was enough for costs on the flight. Her sister and husband would pick her up at the airport, and she would live with them for the six months, and help look after the baby. Her niece! After all, her sister and husband had visited Chile last year and stayed with Gianella’s family for three months and paid not a penny! It was family. That’s the way it worked.

Upon arrival, the Custom’s official noticed something. One hundred and four dollars for a six-month stay? You must be kidding. You’re going to look after someone’s baby? Sounds like work to me, and your visa is for three months and it’s not a work permit.

Gianella was put on the first flight back home to Chile. She never got to even wave to her sister at a distance.

Back home, Gianella was interrogated. Clearly, she’d been sent home on suspicion of terrorism. Today she can’t travel anywhere. She’s on the list.

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