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Apr 26, 2017

Would-be Belizean Passport Holder Flunked Test But Got Passport Anyway

Chavarria spoke to the issue of shortcuts in the Department to benefit a chosen few, accomplished through bribery. In one instance, a prospective applicant for a passport, accompanied by a woman well-known to the Department, flunked his interview after his particulars were taken. He was not able to identify where he was born or even when he went to school in Belize. Chavarria says she made efforts to investigate, but after she had to go on holiday, she returned to find that the passport had been issued and there would be no further discussion about it.

 

Therese Chavarria

Therese Chavarria, Retired Immigration Officer

“The young man came to the office; he was accompanied by one known to us as ‘Miss Rina’; she was [frequently] at the Immigration office so most of the officers know Miss Rina. So that young man was brought into the office, he was escorted by Miss Rina. She spoke on his behalf; she translated while he was doing the data; translation was made to put his finger for the finger print, and translation was made for him to do his signature. And I observed and I waited until the data was done and I asked her to bring the young man to my office. I tried to interview but the interview was unsuccessful. I asked where was he born; he could not answer – because she claimed that the young man attended school in Belize City, at St. John’s [Anglican Primary] School on Euphrates [Avenue]; I asked what is the name of your school – he could not answer. Can you give me one teacher who taught you in primary school – he could not answer. Can you give me the name of the street where your school is – he could not answer. So I told Miss Rina that this passport cannot be issued.  Before I told her this passport cannot be issued right now, she left five hundred dollars on my desk. I told her no, I cannot take your five hundred dollars; we need to investigate your application. I took the application home, and on my return, I guess after six or eight weeks, that was one of the first things I checked. I found out – or before I checked, I asked Mr. Arzu – he was the person at the Belize City Immigration office; I asked him to check and verify for me with the Vital Stats, to whom the numbered birth certificate belonged. And while he was checking off course I checked with my staff and I found out the passport was already issued. Apparently Miss Rina came back to the office, with another application; with another birth certificate, and the officer who was left in charge accordingly got permission from the Director to issue that passport; so on my return I learned that the passport was issued.”

 

Chavarria says she sent a report to the Director at the time, Ruth Meighan, copied to the C.E.O. at the time, but the Director upbraided her for copying the report to the C.E.O. and made no mention of what would be done about it.

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