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lundi 12 octobre 2009

Welcome to Tijuana.. thus sang ManuChao


Global Entry Programme

As I have to visit USA on a fairly regular basis,( 13 visits this year to Miami, our Other Cuba) I applied for this programme, which is now expanding to assist incoming passengers at over 20 airports in the USA. I am hoping that they will begin these programmes at land crossings as well, since crossing into USA/Texas from Mexico is the only place I have experienced any difficulty with the TSA authorities (in all honesty, I must say they seem to select the less intelligent Americans to their staff!)

I had to pay $100 in fees and a few days later received an electronic notification that I must appear for an interview on my next visit. I was transiting through Newark on my way out to France and I presented myself to the office dedicated to Global Entry programme. I looked at the two gentlemen behind their computers, both young, Latin Americans, Melicio and Aricena... name tagged proudly proclaimed their names. I made a mental note, that neither of those names are Cuban, this was to come in handy a little later on.

The usual questions, and then, tell me a little bit about your travels. I remembered a maximum, given to me by a wise American, when dealing with the bureaucratic apparatus, give only information as needed. Australia, Malaysia, India, Vietnam, Myanmar, France... these are the countries I travel to and on a regular basis, I said to him. He looks at the computer for a moment, and says: Tell me about Cuba. If this office was in Miami, and if this officer was of Cuban descent, I would have been in great trouble. He happened to belong to a group of Latin Americans not very fond of Miami Cubans! I am a professor at the University of Havana and all my travels between the two places are sanctioned by the Department of State of the USA! I told him, and was very surprised that he didn’t want to pursue that any further. As long as you have not broken any immigration regulations, I have nothing more to ask. And then he issued me with a little sticker that says that I am approved by the American Border Patrol Agency (TSA) to come and go with ease. The next time, as others are lining up at immigration, I shall walk coolly over to the Global Entry Machine, insert my sticker and put my right hand on glass and then the machine hopefully will issue me a piece of paper with which I can just walk out of Immigrations and Customs!

My next trip to USA would be in November, will be flying/savour the new Premium Voyageur Class of Air France and will be entering JFK...where they have a Global Entry kiosk... Thank you, TSA...

In the attached photograph you would see the masthead of Monocle magazine which has nothing to do with Global Entry even though it is a global magazine and I like to read it. this August 2009 isue had a list of most liveable cities in the World.. do you want to know the list? Here it is

1. Zurich 2. Copenhagen 3. Tokyo 4. Munich 5. Helsinki 6. Stockholm 7. Vienna 8. Paris 9. Melbourne 10. Berlin 11. Honolulu 12. Madrid 13. Sydney 14. Vancouver 15. Barcelona 16. Fukuoka 17. Oslo 18. Singapore 19. Montreal 20. Auckland 21. Auckland 22. Kyoto 23. Hamburg 24. Geneva 25. Lisbon

I am glad to have lived in two of the above 25, Paris and Melbourne. Partially lived in Oslo as a student and had wanted to live in Lisbon and Honolulu. Of the 25, the only city I have not visited is Vienna in Europe and Fukuoka in Japan.. alors!