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Posted on on June 5th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (

Haitian Earthquake Amputee & U.S. Senator Menendez Denied by U.S.Embassy in Haiti:

Champion Salsa King Was to Dance on a Float at Sunday’s Celebrate IsraelParade in NYC

On January 12, 2010, 28-year-old Gheorghes (George) Exantus, a champion salsa dancer from Port-au-Prince, found himself buried beneath rubble from his former apartment building after a horrific earthquake struck Haiti’s capital. After three hellish days, George was found by friends and dug out. Tragically, he suffered serious injuries that forced him to have his right leg amputated and his left hand treated for severe nerve damage.

Thanks to miraculous medical care from teams of Israeli doctors and physiotherapists in Haiti and Israel, George begandancing again within eight months – prosthesis and all!

On 5/13/11, George learned that he had been invited to participate in the Celebrate Israel Parade, Sunday, June 5, 2011, and to dance at a concert that follows. It was to be an occasion to celebrate the power of the human spirit and the kindness of strangers. It was also to be a day George would fondly remember for the rest of his life.

Well, that’s the way it was supposed to be!

On Tuesday, May 31st, George was at the U.S. Embassy inHaiti, being interviewed for a non-immigrant (travel) visa. Shockingly, he was denied the document. It had been determined by the interviewer that George did not have strong ties to his native country; that there was a fair chance he would stay in the U.S. for good. The decision was not overturned, despite a direct appeal by U.S. Senator Robert Menendez of NJ, and, despite the fact that articles with George’s photo had appeared in the New York Post* twice within the past four days. It would not be easy for someone of such notoriety to avoid immigration officials and remain in America illegally!

George has no intention to stay in America. And, he had not asked to come here in the first place; he had been invited to come here…as an honored guest. Is this the way the greatest nation in the world treats her invitees? If President Obama were to learn about George and his rebuke, he should be mortified! The visa denial should also leave an unsavory taste with President and Secretary of State Clinton, who were invited to join George on the parade float, but declined, citing schedule constraints.

Dancing was George’s life. He was thrilled to be coming to NYC to celebrate and dance at the events, and to express his gratitude to the Israelis for helping him get Back on the Floor. Why has George been denied this joy? He is able to dance again with a prosthetic leg – obtaining a visa should not be a miracle!

Sunday’s parade will be broadcast live on New York TV. George’s presence could have done so much good for so many people. It could have raised renewed awareness and interest in the still-horrific situation in Haiti, 17 months after a savage earthquake killed 220,000 people and left 1.5 million homeless. It could have raised desperately-needed funds for medical treatment in Haiti. It could have alerted medical professionals to state-of-the-art equipment, therapies and surgical techniques now available to treat amputees and sufferers of severe nerve damage. It could have motivated medical personnel and others to volunteer in tragedy-stricken areas. And, George’s amazing recovery could have served as a fountain of hope for physically-challenged men, women and children in America, and beyond. How could all of this good be prevented from happening?

It is too late for George to dance at tomorrow’s events, but it is not too late for him to visit America or any other country whose government officials are functioning by the basic laws of morality and common sense.

Buddy Macy


P.S. George’s native language is Creole. This was his response to my email informing him that he would not be coming to New York: “I me to Iso sorry for the visa. I try next months think you verry much.”

*The following are links to two New York Post articles about George:

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