Page last updated at 12:01 GMT, Wednesday, 10 June 2009 13:01 UK

MPs discuss Welsh learner's case

Evelyn Calcabrini
Evelyn Calcabrini hoped to learn Welsh and visit the National Eisteddfod

The case of a Patagonian woman refused UK entry by officials who did not believe she wanted to improve her Welsh has been discussed in the Commons.

Evelyn Calcabrini, 20, was heading to Glyndyfrdwy, Denbighshire, to stay with a local couple for six months.

Wales Office Minister Wayne David said he and Welsh Secretary Peter Hain would pursue the matter with immigration officials as soon as possible.

There has been a Welsh settlement in the South American region since 1865.

It was then that around 150 settlers sailed from Liverpool to Argentina in the hope of establishing a colony and preserving Welsh language and culture.

Plaid MPs Elfyn Llwyd and Hywel Williams, as well as Conservative MP Davies Davies, raised the issue during Welsh questions on Wednesday.

It's very important that cultural links between Wales and Patagonia are enhanced and we should make sure everything is done to ensure that free movement takes place
Wayne David, Wales Office

Ms Calcabrini arrived at London Heathrow on 25 May, a Bank Holiday. She had arranged to come to north Wales to help improve her Welsh and to learn English after she had been sponsored by a couple from Denbighshire.

When she was refused entry, MPs Mr Llwyd and Mr Williams were contacted and asked to intervene.

Mr Williams, MP for Caernarfon, said Ms Calcabrini had arranged to stay with Eos Griffiths and his Patagonian-born wife Carina, at their home in Glyndyfrdwy.

She had a letter from the couple, confirming they would support her during her stay in the UK.

However, she was told she could not stay in the UK and was sent home.

He said the treatment of the woman had been "disgraceful", adding: "It's a matter of not just blood, but culture."

Following the exchange on Wednesday, Wayne David said it was "very important that cultural links between Wales and Patagonia are enhanced and we should make sure everything is done to ensure that free movement takes place".

A UK Border Agency spokesman said it operated a "firm and fair" system that would refuse entry to anyone who did not meet the requirements of strict rules.



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