Sour welcome to Rio

On Feb. 3, ’04, as a traveler with the “Tango and Samba” group of smarTours (800/337-7773), I entered Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, coming from Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Our Varig Brazilian Air planeload lined up at the usual passport control. All other nationalities were taken out of the line to other passport windows where they passed through very quickly. The Americans were told to wait in front of a closed window.

Twenty-five minutes later the window opened and, very slowly, our passports were scanned by a scowling employee. We then had to line up a second time to be fingerprinted and photographed by another surly employee. The process took about 1½ hours.

This is the first time I have been treated like a criminal at any passport control. I promised myself then and there I would not spend one dime in Brazil — and I kept my promise.

Rolling Hills Estates, CA

Editor’s note: As explained in a news brief (March ’04, pg. 82), Brazil is fingerprinting U.S. visitors in retaliation for the United States’ fingerprinting of visitors from countries that require visas.