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Jul 5, 2017

Ministers Martinez and Castro Repudiate Alvarine Burgess’ Testimony

Alvarine Burgess

As expected, today’s public hearing of the Senate Special Select Committee was a spectacle, though not of the best kind. For the first time since the Committee convened in November, Ministers of Government began making appearances. It has been established in extensive testimony of both Immigration officers and others that a word from the Minister – or certain Ministers at least – was a good as a guarantee of success in obtaining visas, passports and nationality, especially if you were otherwise willing to bend or even break the rules. We’ll have the reaction of today’s witnesses, Anthony “Boots” Martinez and Edmond Castro, to that later on. But we start with the reason why both Martinez and Castro were called to Belmopan today: they were accused, Castro in particular, of a business relationship with Alvarine Burgess, who has stated that she paid each of them two thousand dollars to obtain their recommendations for applications. While both were extremely reluctant to address the charges, they stuck to their stories: Martinez that he had no dealings with Burgess at all, and Castro that his dealings with her were limited.

 

Anthony “Boots” Martinez

Anthony “Boots” Martinez, Minister of Human Development

“I am aware of Miss Alvarine Burgess coming before this Committee, Madam Chair, but I am being asked to deal with what is in this report, as regards to where my name is called in this report. I don’t see Miss Alvarine Burgess in none of these reports. I don’t know. I am asked and I am tasked in regards to my name in the Audit Report based on what is in the Audit Report from 2011 to 2013. That is my task as far as I know; so maybe you could refer me to the page of which Miss Alvarine Burgess’ name has been called or named in this report and then we will move forward from there.”

 

Edmond Castro, Minister of Transport and NEMO

“I know that she is a ‘liad’ woman and she’s been telling lies for a long time now.”

 

Elena Smith, Pro-tem Chair, Senate Special Select Committee

“Yes, but are you aware of her testimony?”

 

Edmond Castro

Edmond Castro

“I heard some of what she said, yes.”

 

Elena Smith

“So then we will just fill you in with those as we ask questions pertaining to that. She has said that sometime around 2013, that she had asked you and approached you to provide recommendations in support of visa for Asian nationals; is that so?”

 

Edmond Castro

“Miss Burgess approached me twice – and I said this from the beginning. I helped her with one letter and she asked for a letter to be signed because somebody will help her with some money to take her husband, who was sick, to Guatemala for medical treatment. About a couple weeks later – two, three weeks, I can’t remember exactly – the treatment was not well, she needed to go to Merida; I signed another letter for her. That was the extent; I said that from jump street; I’m telling you again; yes, I signed two letters for her.”

 

Elena Smith

“Yes, and I am aware that you probably said that before, Minister, but we have to have [it] here for the record. We might ask you questions that you have responded to before, not here, but in other locations. So you are saying that you had twice assisted her?”

 

Edmond Castro

“Yes, ma’am.”

 

Elena Smith

“With those, any of those times did she pay you for those recommendations?”

 

Edmond Castro

“No, ma’am.”

 

Elena Smith

“Did she at any other time, ask that you be involved with her – this will be my words.”

 

Edmond Castro

“No, ma’am.”

 

Elena Smith

“In a long-time or long-standing, let me just finish…”

 

Edmond Castro

“No, ma’am, no ma’am.”

 

Elena Smith

“In a long-standing relationship or agreement in regard to…”

 

Edmond Castro

“No such thing.”

 

Elena Smith

“So you never called her to…Did you have any other contact with regard to the two you spoke about, after you gave her the recommendations?”

 

Edmond Castro

“No, ma’am.”

 

Elena Smith

“So that was the extent; you gave her the recommendations and that was it; you never had any interactions? Did you at any time contact the Department in relation to these two recommendations that you made for her?”

 

Edmond Castro

“No, ma’am.”

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