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Mexican school teacher who brought wireless internet to indigenous village denied visa to travel to US to collect award – New York Daily News

A Mexican elementary school teacher who was recognized by an American organization for connecting an indigenous village to the internet has been barred from traveling to the U.S. to collect his award.

The Internet Society (ISoc), decided to honor Mariano Gomez, 23, for his efforts to provide wireless internet connections to families in Abasolo, Chiapas, where there is no telephone or radio service.

He was set to be presented with an award on Sept. 19 in Los Angeles, but has been denied the tourist visa required to travel to the United States.

In a letter shared online, Gomez described taking a 16-hour truck ride from Chiapas to the US embassy in Mexico City for a visa appointment.

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Gomez’s application was quickly rejected after he was unable to provide a street address, or bank account details.

Villages like the one he lives in often don’t have street names, Gomez explained in his letter, and he doesn’t have a bank account.

“I have no bank account with any money to prove I have a high economic status, which is the way of the world,” he said.

He also suggested his application was denied because of his origins.

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Most Mexicans who travel to the United States illegally begin their journeys in Chiapas, he said.

“It’s an example of the reality of thousands of indigenous and non-indigenous brothers, who go through the same experience,” he said. “What’s more, in these times, they want to divide us with walls.”

Isoc said in a statement that three awardees would not attend the ceremony because they were denied visas, The Guardian reported.

Gomez began his efforts to connect his village to the internet seven years ago.

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He used a repeater to share the signal from his family’s satellite connection with friends.

Gomez and a group of self-taught colleagues have since provided 800 homes, in five different communities with a wireless internet connection.

The collective also built an intranet for the local high school to share resources with its students.

“This is more about communications than entertainment,” Gomez told The Guardian. “People used to go to a phone booth and pay 50 pesos ($2.80) for a five-minute call to talk to family in the U.S. Now they go online,” he said.

He describes the technology as a “social model,” adding that families can pay 200 pesos or $11.33 per month to be connected.

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Mexican school teacher who brought wireless internet to indigenous village denied visa to travel to US to collect award – New York Daily News

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