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Jul 18, 2017

C.O.L.A. doesn’t believe new Columbus U. has changed its tune

Remember American Global University School of Medicine? Four years ago it was fighting to clear its name from allegations that its educational activity was fraudulent and its degrees not worth the paper they were printed on. The story faded from TV screens and newspapers, but today it was revived because of new information and concerns provided to crusaders Geovannie Brackett and Raymond Rivers. They attempted to tie it to the ongoing Senate Select inquiry but offered no physical proof. News Five’s Aaron Humes reports.

 

Geovannie Brackett, President, Citizens Organized for Liberty through Action

Geovannie Brackett

“Maybe guys, there’s somebody here, we don’t know – but Rivers, maybe you wahn hail them?”

 

Raymond Rivers, Poor People Organization for a Healthy and Righteous Society

“Hello? Hello? Hello?”

 

Geovannie Brackett

“Anybody there? (Pause) I guess not, guys.”

 

Aaron Humes, Reporting

If this building seems familiar, it’s because news crews were here four years ago as local activists tried to ‘out’ what was then known as American Global University School of Medicine as a fake, a fraud. The school hit back, even threatening to sue. But the matter died a natural death. Now it appears the school has changed its name. But according to Geovannie Brackett, little else has.

 

Geovannie Brackett

“When you research the directory for medical schools, they have changed their name to Columbus [Central] University – but when you look at the contact number, it is a contact number, even though they are located here on the Airport Road, it is a contact number for the medical up in San Pedro – I think it is Washington University. Now, the concern that “Faada” (Philip Henry) brought up back then, was that there is a legitimate medical school just up north, which is CAHSU-Central American Health Sciences University, that if you go there right now, you can actually find over a hundred students, a hundred and fifty students who are actively being there; Raymond Rivers and I have done that investigation, but when it comes to these medical schools, there was one in Belmopan – when we went back then, as a journalist when I researched that, it was a ghost town like you’ve seen here.”

No one answered our calls at the listed telephone number of Columbus Central this afternoon, but it is July and limited services are being offered at most schools, which Brackett grudgingly conceded. But in the long term, he argued, there is just too much mystery surrounding these institutions.

 

Geovannie Brackett

“The concern that we had from the Diaspora and from other individuals that have contacted us, is that these medical schools, if they are fake, can be a front just to get people to get visas; it could be a front for human trafficking; it could be a front for money laundering. We have already had too much ‘bad eyes’ on Belize and we believe that the Ministry of Education and the ministry responsible for Economic Development and Investment needs to monitor these types of so-called investment, these types of operations that may just be a front.”

In the background of our interview with Brackett and Raymond Rivers, who expressed similar sentiments about how, properly constituted, medical schools could bring important resources to Belize, the caretaker of the property stood and watched. Afterward, Brackett and Rivers confronted him in the full glare of media cameras.

 

(Nat sounds: Brackett and others talking to caretaker)

 

Shortly thereafter, Assistant Superintendent and Officer Commanding Ladyville Police Juanito Cocom arrived in an official police vehicle with several colleagues. We’re not sure who called him, but he apparently made it his business to check out what was going on. Satisfied that the press was doing its job, police decamped from the area. But where will this story go? That remains to be seen. Aaron Humes reporting for News Five.

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