Cambridge soccer coach fears for family's safety
Published Monday, August 6, 2012 11:32AM EDT
Last Updated Monday, August 6, 2012 11:43AM EDT
Thanks to a new coach from Columbia, Ryan Holford says he’s become a better soccer player.
But Holford recently discovered his coach, Hugo Charria, is voluntarily leaving Canada with his family. Charria had applied for permanent residence on humanitarian grounds, but was denied.
Charria says years ago, he was kidnapped in Columbia by ELN guerillas, and released on the condition that he would pay ransom money. Charria instead took his family to seek asylum in Spain, where they received citizenship, but also faced extreme racism including death threats and having their car set on fire.
“He has a good life here,” said Holford. “And they’re sending him to nothing, practically death.”
The Canadian government told Charria he could either go back to Spain or Columbia. Charria had applied for permanent residence using his Spanish citizenship.
Despite the potential danger from the ELN, Charria says he’s picked Columbia, since his experience in Spain was so damaging.
From Columbia, Charria says he will re-apply for permanent residence.
“I’m afraid” Charria told CTV News. “For me and for my family. I don’t have any other options right now.”
Holford’s mother Kim says she thought a number of factors, such as a full-time job in Guelph and a Columbian university degree in physical education with a specialization in soccer, would have helped Charria’s chances of staying in Canada.
But immigration lawyer Jennifer Roggeman says since Charria applied to stay in Canada using a Spanish passport, it may be difficult to convince immigration officials there’s no where else for him to live safely in Spain.
“As far as Canada is concerned, he is a citizen of Spain, despite the fact his birth country is Columbia.” Roggeman told CTV News.
Charria says unless the government reverses its decision, he will have to leave at the end of August.
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