I’ve been trying to keep track of the Steiner family, Jason and Trudy, who are Canadians now stranded in Bolivia with their six young children. They had traveled to Bolivia, as I understand it, to see family and do some outreach in that country. There was some misunderstanding about their passports just before they boarded the plane to leave last week, the passports were seized,went missing for a while, and found again but the family has been kept in Bolivia every since.
I believe that the Steiners are Mennonite and from Manitoba. They are faced with paying a heavy fine of about $4000 to get their passports back, and the error was not their fault. The Canadian embassy is involved, but whether they can obtain the passports or get replacement documents to the Steiners has not been determined yet. Jason says they will be okay until Friday, but this has been a terrifying and harrowing ordeal for them and their children, who are under the age of twelve. They were threatened with jail, and they are having to stay close to the immigration office in case something happens. While not in detention, they are not free to go anywhere.
What will help is if Christians will email the Canadian embassy in La Paz, Bolivia with messages of support. I have contacted the Anglican Church in La Paz, a Quaker mission in Bolivia and the Old Roman Catholic church with missions in South America, but no one seems to have anyone close to where the Steiners are right now. The family simply does not have the money to pay the exorbitant fine, and isn’t likely to be able to raise it. I’m not sure if it is a good idea to pay such fines, as it may encourage more “errors” with passports. But the most important thing is to get this family back to Canada soon, where I expect they will want to stay a long time!
Email address for person at the Canadian embassy in Bolivia handling this matter: