By Gabriela Gorbea
Mexicans may soon be able to travel to Canada without a visa again, after a six year period during which the visa requirement constituted a constant bilateral irritant.
The news came following a meeting between Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto and his Canadian counterpart Justin Trudeau during the G-20 summit in Turkey.
"Justin Trudeau confirmed he has instructed his cabinet to eliminate the need for a visa for Mexicans in the near future," Peña Nieto tweeted after the meeting on Sunday. It was, he added, the start of "a new era in the relationship between Mexico and Canada."
The Canadian government suddenly began requiring Mexicans to obtain "temporary resident visas" to enter the country in July 2009 in response, it said, to a tripling of asylum seekers from Mexico in the previous three years.
The new rules came into effect without warning, prompting long lines of angry tourists outside the Canadian embassy in Mexico City.
"They pulled the measure out of nowhere. I had to cancel an important trip because I could not get the visa on time," recalled Fernando Hernán, a 36-year-old academic from Mexico City.
The Mexican authorities responded by making Canadian diplomats and public officials also obtain special documents, though they stopped short of imposing general visa requirements for fear of discouraging tourists.
The tension dropped somewhat last April when the Canadian government began allowing Mexicans holding a valid US visa, or who had applied for a Canadian one in the past, to enter the country after completing an online register.
Trudeau, however, turned removing the requirement altogether into a campaign promise ahead of his election earlier this month.
Speaking to supporters in September Trudeau said that making Mexicans apply for visas was not a good way of dealing with the refugee issue. "There are other ways of doing that than slapping a visa on Mexicans that is slapping tourism and relations with our continental partner," he said.
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