Stranded in Panama since July, Marixa Lasso, assistant professor of history at Case Western Reserve University, got word that her visa problems have ended.
Jonathan Sadowsky, chair of the Department of History, sent out an e-mail message to university colleagues late Monday: "In case you have not yet heard, I am happy and relieved to say that Marixa was issued her visa today. She will stay in Panama until January to fulfill the terms of her Fulbright, but will be back in time for spring classes."
He added that Lasso is "very appreciative" of the efforts and support of her colleagues and the university administration.
Lasso's problems began July 12 when she went to the United States Embassy in Panama for an interview about her visa so she could return to campus and resume her life with her husband of seven months, Jim Raden. She was told she would be granted a visa, but 20 minutes later received a telephone call from the American Consulate informing her that her visa approval would be subject to a delay of an unspecified length of time.
When the problem was not resolved by the beginning of the semester, the university cancelled Lasso's classes. Because she was due for a research leave in the spring, the department granted her one in the fall, with the goal of having her return and teach next semester.
Her colleagues began a campaign to bring the popular Latin Americanist in history and Panama native back to Cleveland. They wrote editorials, contacted government officials, conducted a media campaign and held a campus information session on September 26 where form letters to the government were distributed. The university administration stepped in and hired immigration lawyer David Leopold (LAW '85). Presidents of the American Historical Association and Latin American Studies Association also sent letters to the Secretary of State in her support.
With the problem resolved, Lasso responded, "I heard yesterday that I was cleared and then went to the embassy where they stamped my visa right away. I feel relief. I am very happy to be able to go back to my husband, students, and colleagues."
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