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Jul 12, 2017

Tourism Minister Says He Did Not Influence Harmouches’ Applications

He may not know them by name, but Heredia Junior had a curious relationship with the Harmouch family of San Pedro Town.  The family numbers over one hundred strong and the Belize Consul to Lebanon, Khodr Harmouch, approached the minister seeking assistance with the granting of nationality to a relative, Samir, and many others likewise applied.  Heredia Junior admits to serving his constituents by writing hundreds of applications, but he denies instructing any Immigration officer to personally see the file in question.  Instead, he said, he queried the status of files, but made no other interference.

 

Manuel Heredia Jr.

Manuel Heredia Jr., Minister of Tourism and Civil Aviation

“I will never request a file. What I usually do and have been doing for like I said from the time I have been Mayor of the island until now, is that people – if they give me a copy of their receipt, I will go and find out if what if anything is missing; is everything okay, and I will advise the person accordingly. In many cases, I have been the recommender of applications, probably hundreds of them, because I like to service my constituency and give as much help, and I believe that as an area representative, as the Mayor of the island, my job is to provide service and that is what I have done. But at no time will I instruct – I can almost guarantee that – that I have never instructed any officer to please provide me with that file or whatever. Even up to this day I will just go and ask what is the situation and the circumstances surrounding that particular application, so that in turn I will tell the person so-so-and-so and if it’s okay I say fine, you have to wait until your swearing-in once everything is over. But if they are suggesting that I instructed or probably asked for a file, I can openly say that that is not so.”

 

Michel Chebat

Michel Chebat, P.U.P. Senator

“Would it be a coincidence, Sir, that within days of your intervention on behalf of Samir Harmouch and Ahmad Harmouch that Minister [Carlos] Perdomo signed their nationality certificate?”

 

Manuel Heredia Jr.

“Not so, sir.”

 

Michel Chebat

“No coincidence?”

 

Manuel Heredia Jr.

“I will never ask any one of my colleagues to go ahead and do something that hasn’t fulfilled the time or been vetted the right way or whatever.”

 

Michel Chebat

“So it would be a surprise to you that they got it within a few days after your intervention?”

 

Manuel Heredia Jr.

“If they get it over there, that is for the Minister or the persons who are vetting to see that it is right or if anything is wrong; but they are the ones who are supposed to if something is not right, then put it aside.”

 

Michel Chebat

“But your intervention…”

 

Manuel Heredia Jr.

“Even if myself would go and say look, can you facilitate…they shouldn’t do it.”

 

Michel Chebat

“So your intervention had no impact on them getting their nationality?”

 

Manuel Heredia Jr.

“Not to my knowledge.”

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