Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Gov. responds, back in Malawi, and other News from the Beach

So in regards to the little venting session that is my previous post the the Consular Section Chief at Cape Town Claudia Baker kindly responded. Thank you and here is her response in full.

"I have received your email regarding our policy of not allowing pick-up of passports and citizenship documents at the Consulate. We have this policy for several reasons. First, when we did allow pick-ups several years ago an astonishingly large number of Americans never returned to pick up their passports or reports of birth abroad. Some individuals would respond to repeated requests to return to pick up their documents but we do not have the staff to track who had returned for pick up and to subsequently make repeated attempts to contact the individual. Others, in spite of our efforts, never returned and we were left with valid passports and other valuable documents, which presents a security risk.

In addition, admission to the Consulate is by appointment only for security reasons. Therefore, in order to pick up a document, an American would need to book an appointment on-line prior to coming as we cannot leave passports with front desk staff. This presents problems for several reasons. First, it is difficult to know the exact date on which a passport will be ready for pick up as there any many automated checks that need to be completed prior to terminating processing, therefore booking an appointment for pick-up would be problematic for the customer. Second, if many people were booking appointments to pick-up citizenship documents, our available slots for those with initial applications could become congested.

I hope that I have answered your inquiry regarding unavailability of a pick-up option to your satisfaction. I am sorry about the other inconveniences that you experienced while adding pages to your passport. However decisions such as the price of various services e.g. extra pages are set worldwide by the Department of State in Washington DC and we have no discretion to alter these prices based on local circumstances. Our exchange rate is set monthly by a central authority and due to systems issues can only be changed by this central authority once per month. I will follow up with our cashier to see if he can obtain adequate small bills to be able to make change for those desiring to pay with dollars.


Claudia Baker

Consular Section Chief

Cape Town, South Africa

This email is UNCLASSIFIED."

So beyond blaming careless U.S. citizens for she cites, as predicted, security concerns, systems issues, and distant centralized authorities. The great thing about citing something as a security risk is that there really is no way to argue against it besides simply saying they are wrong particularly when a government is saying it. We are having the same issue trying to get my wife a green card. For that she needs to go through series of insulting medical checks, criminal record checks, and interviews. Why? Well amongst other things for "security." As if my wife, a cute little Korean girl, is going terrorize the U.S. But when dealing with America, especially for foreigners, you are guilty until proven innocent.

How proud I am to be an American.

Rant ended.

-On a much more positive note WE ARE BACK IN MALAWI! And it feels so good. Our trip to Cape Town was productive on many levels but its nice to be back on the beach with my fishes and I am excited about this new year. We have a lot of cool things planned.

-Also we are in the job market again for another Research Assistant and Dive Instructor for Aquanuts and the Maru Research Center. Applicants will preferably have a masters degree in coastal or lake science, environmental management, ichthyology, or a related field. Applicants should also be Divemasters or willing and able to be trained as one. Those with only a bachelor degree but who have experience with population and biodiversity surveying and mapping will be considered. Remuneration will vary according to applicant’s qualifications. Send your CVs to info@aquanutsdivers.com.

- Last but not least we will be saying goodbye to Monica. She has been a great help in getting our research programs at the Maru up and running but alas must move on. She's moving to Ecuador and we wish her all the best.

How proud I am to be an American.


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