Thu, Jan 15, 2004
relationship between Brazil and the USA has been strained over the
past few days in the wake of new security initiatives instituted by
the US Government. Brazil, not too happy over the fingerprinting
and photographing of foreign visitors to US soil struck back... not
out of fear for their safety, but for political reasons, requiring
the same of all US visitors to their country.
Mind you, Brazil has never (Thank God) had the equivalent of a
9/11 terrorist attack on their soil, but they appear more
than willing to penalize US visitors for their government's
decision in attempting (wisely or unwisely) to secure its
The latest indignity occurred Wednesday when a US pilot was
arrested for making a rude gesture while being photographed by
Brazilian security officials. The American Airlines crewmember was
detained... as were all the other members of his crew, upon
arriving from Miami and encountering Brazil's "Tit-For-Tat"
While there is no
question that the gesture in question (the infamous "Rockefeller
Salute") was rude and poorly thought out, the pilot, Dale Robbin
Hirsh, was taken to a federal courthouse and could be charged with
"showing disrespect to authorities..." a "crime" punishable by
anywhere from 6 months to 2 years in jail. Most political insiders,
however, expect that the pilot will be deported without
excessive legal action (the Brazilians may be thin-skinned and
unwilling to deal with free speech issues, but they probably aren't
foolish enough to prosecute).
An American Airlines spokeswoman, Martha Pantin, claimed that
the incident "was the result of a misunderstanding."
"The company apologizes to the Brazilian government, the airport
authorities, the police or anyone else who may have perceived
anything they believe to have been disrespectful."
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