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Jun 28, 2017

A Few Recommendations for Visas, But Martinez Says There’s Nothing Wrong

Anthony “Boots” Martinez

According to the Minister, he has regularly recommended both constituents and acquaintances for a variety of Government services during his time in office. In the case of visa requests, that number is minimal, and while he did not personally vet the individuals who came to him apart from the recommendation of his contacts, the onus was on them to be otherwise clear with the Immigration Department and for that Department, which he says he did not frequent, to do its own checks.  He bristled at any suggestion that the Minister’s recommendations induced such fear on the part of Immigration officers that they had to follow it as gospel.

 

Reporter

“Sir, do you know an Asian national by the first name Wen?  Your name appears once in the visa report, under appendix four under a column labelled “Minister’s Request”; beside it it’s suggesting that you sent a letter for the application of an Asian national by the first name Wen. Do you remember that?”

 

Anthony “Boots” Martinez, Minister of Human Development

“Wen? I don’t remember that; but I think that in my time, even being in Opposition, I have made several recommendations for nationals of different countries; I have made several recommendations…”

 

Reporter

“And why would you have made those recommendations? Is it the explanation that’s been given before, that it’s on behalf of constituents?”

 

Anthony “Boots” Martinez

“You have people that I know – some of them are constituents; some of them are people that I know.”

 

Reporter

“So about how many, would you say, since we speak about numbers at this hearing?”

 

Anthony “Boots” Martinez

“I would say in my political career as a member of the National Assembly since 2003, I would honestly say I had made about fifteen recommendations, total.”

 

Reporter

“Sir, as part of your responsibility when doing these assistance for your constituents or other people, did you do any vetting to make sure that the information they gave you was accurate?”

 

Anthony “Boots” Martinez

“I don’t need to do any vetting; all I need to do is to say, “You are Mr. Vellos, you know me; Mr. Vellos I am interested in my sister come to Belize to visit.” In one case, I remember I gave a recommendation for some Chinese New Year’s thing and I said, well, I have no difficulty – I know you, and you say that’s your sister, providing that everything is in order at Immigration, and I gave the recommendation. I see no problem with that. I don’t have any difficulty with whatsoever a recommendation is; it’s just a suggestion, you know.”

 

Reporter

“That carries weight according to the testimony of some of the Immigration officers who have come here.”

 

Anthony “Boots” Martinez

“No, no; listen to me. You look up the meaning of recommendation. And it might carry weight within the regulation – just yesterday, I made a recommendation to Public Service in regard to a constituent of mine who was seeking a job, and that recommendation was turned down, why? Because the person never met the qualifications required by Public Service to get the job; so recommendation is just a suggestion, you know; that is no guarantee, you know?”

 

Reporter

“Sir, but that is the ideal situation; it has been revealed that these recommendations hold sway, they oblige the Immigration officers to act in a certain way.”

 

Anthony “Boots” Martinez

“Well I don’t know sir; that is not the policy and that is not the law; so whatsoever is the policy and the law must remain. The person must show where he has proof that he can say; he needs bank statement – all of that is the requirement; it’s not just on a recommendation.”

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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