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VMC Exclusive: Anti-Olympics organizer and journalist denied entry to Canada

Interrogated by CBSA, ISU and US Customs, Martin Macias Jr. was turned back to Seattle

by Vancouver Media Co-op 2010 Olympics

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VMC Exclusive: Anti-Olympics organizer and journalist denied entry to Canada


VMC: Martin Macias arrived in Vancouver from Chicago on February 6, prepared to spend a week documenting resistance to the 2010 Games. Macias is a student, a radio journalist and was active in Chicago’s campaign against the 2016 Olympic bid. During the No Bid Chicago campaign, Macias traveled to Denmark and  Switzerland to meet with the IOC. But he didn’t make it into Vancouver yesterday. Instead, he was detained by CBSA on his way into Canada.

MACIAS: They wanted to know about the conference, they wanted to know about any kind of protest that I knew about, they wanted me to tell them about the organizers of the conference and what their phone numbers were, they asked me why I was there and I tried to establish that I was there as a radio journalist to talk to some people from the conference, residents of Vancouver who are outspoken about the games, or against the games.

VMC: Macias told the Vancouver Media Co-op that the border guards searched everything he had, but it was one particular piece of information that they used to keep him out of Canada.

MACIAS: They looked at my notebook, they looked at my newspapers, looked in the phone books that I had in my bag, and they found a number in there which is from the conference, and it’s a support number, I guess in case you need something while you are in Vancouver, if you need food of shelter or if you have problems with the authorities, any issues with them, you can call that number. The customs agent, she saw that as a sign that I came to Vancouver with the intention of being involved in some kind of activity where I would possibly need support, in case I was arrested or in case I had issues with the authorities. And she saw that as reasonable grounds to refuse my entry.

VMC: Denied a phone call or the right to speak to a lawyer, Macias was presented with two choices.

MACIAS: Eventually they offered me two options, because I appealed the decision, I wanted to appeal the decision, and they offered me two options. One was to voluntarily leave Canada, the second was to go to a trial, a hearing for the decision, meanwhile I would have to be detained, and the next trial would be in about a week and a half, so obviously I can’t be detained, I have school, and I have work. I have other things to do, I can’t be detained waiting for a trial.  So I accepted the voluntary leave, they wanted me to fly to Chicago at my own expense, which was a $1300 ticket so  instead I wanted to go to Seattle because I had a ticket from Seattle to Columbus Ohio. 

VMC: Before he got on the plane to Seattle, he was interviewed by the Integrated Security Unit.

MACIAS: Before I got on the plane to Seattle, two police officers in plain clothes came up to me, identified themselves as the ISU, the Integrated Security Unit. They showed me their badge, which had an Olympic logo on it. It was very strange, cause they were extremely friendly with me, and they were saying “well we’re not here to accuse you of anything, we want to talk and help you out any way we can, we’re just looking out for you.”  You know, obviously trying to get me to say something, be more comfortable with them and reveal something that I wasn’t telling customs, but obviously I didn’t know anything else so they weren’t satisfied. Their main concern was about the protest and about any destruction to property, and about any plans that I knew about or any contacts that I knew about who were organizing anything. And I didn’t have anything to give, so they left me alone.

VMC: Macias was again questioned to US authorities in YVR before he boarded his flight to Seattle. He is currently staying in a hotel at the Seattle Tacoma Airport, unsure whether or not he’ll attempt to re-enter Canada.

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