A Latin American scholar at the University of Maryland has been denied a permanent visa to live in this country because of "classified material" he is not allowed to see, but which allegedly confirms that he is a subversive.
Angel Rama, an internationally recognized authority on Latin American literature, said he received a letter last week from the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service that said he is ineligible for a permanent visa based on "information including classified materials which. . . cannot be discussed in this decision or made available for review."
Rama, 56, who holds a tenured position and is highly regarded by his students and colleagues, was told earlier this year he was likely to be refused because he has been labeled a "subversive" by the United States since 1969.
Rama contended he was never told why he received that classification. He recalled only that the determination came after a discussion with a U.S. consular officer in Uruguay. The officer raised the facts that Rama had traveled to China and Cuba and that he wrote for a leftist literary magazine.
Wallace R. Gray, INS district director in Baltimore, who signed the letter sent to Rama, declined to elaborate on his office's decision. "It's all classified information," he said. "It's secret. Everything we've said is in the decision."
Rama, who was born in Uruguay but now holds a Venezuelan passport, has traveled to the United States several times for extended periods since l969 on a special visa waiver given to those deemed subversive under the McCarran-Walter Act of 1952.
Rama acknowledged that he has socialist sympathies, but denied he was ever a member of a communist or anarchist party. The INS letter suggested that Rama might be eligible for defector status if he could present evidence of "an active opposition to communism for the past five years." His lawyer, Michael Maggio, said this would require Rama to "admit he is what they say"--a person who formerly held communist or subversive affiliations.
Maggio said Rama would challenge the decision. "It's very un-American when you don't have an opportunity to know what you've been charged with or by whom," Maggio said.