The Canadian government has made a sudden and extremely unpopular requirement for all Mexicans visiting Canada that they must have a visa to enter Canada.
The reason behind this decision seems to be due the sharp rise in the number of those seeking asylum entering the country in the last few years. The same rule evidently has been applied to the Czech Republic.
On July 3rd it was reported Mexicans filed between 8,000-10,000 asylum claims in 2008 which is up about 15% than the year before.
This requirement has severely disrupted the plans of travelers heading to Canada for pleasure, study or business .
Since Monday hundreds of people have gone to the Canadian Consulate in Guadalajara to get more information about the necessary visa. Admission to the building has been refused to all and instead they are being asked to call a toll-free at the Embassy in Mexico City. Those lucky enough to get through are being asked to download an application from www.canada.org.mx and follow the instructions.
Jason Kenny, the Immigration Minister in Canada says the sheer volume of these asylum claims is undermining their ability to help people fleeing real persecution.
No one in Mexico is happy about this new visa requirement and the government of Mexico has taken retaliatory action
All Canadian diplomats and government officials will now need to apply for visas to enter Mexico.
Despite the hue and cry from Mexican legislators, the Mexican government has decided not to take reciprocal measures to demand that all Canadian citizens require a visa for Mexico. This is likely because over 1.3 million Canadians visit Mexico every year largely for recreational purposes.
The federal Congress of Mexico passed a motion this week demanding that the Canadian government offer a 45 day grace period for the required visa so Mexicans with tickets for Canada already purchased won’t have their travel plans interrupted.
Anti Canadian sentiment is running high on Mexican radio, on the Internet and Facebook. They are also complaining about the poor treatment of Mexicans standing in line for the visas outside the Canadian Embassy in Mexico City.
The European Union is also upset at Canada’s move and Sweden , which holds the rotating UE presidency, said it would favor a retaliatory visa for Canadians visiting the 27- country bloc.
It seems a shame to me that with all the other problems, such as the global economic, the US/Mexico border drug wars and H1N1 flu virus, this is a poor time to cause any further rift between our two countries.