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Oct 31, 2017

Preview of Godwin Hulse’s Visit to Senate Committee

Minister of Immigration and Nationality, Senator Godwin Hulse, is an anticipated witness to the Senate Special Select Committee on Immigration’s public hearings.  He has said from the very beginning that he would like nothing more than the opportunity to face his peers in the upper chamber, and finally set the record straight on the happenings in the Immigration Department, which he first took over substantively after the 2012 general elections and retained even after scandal engulfed the Department a few months later, relieving him of junior Elvin Penner.  Never one to shy away from confrontation, Hulse has had much to say about the Immigration process in the lead-up to appearing before the Committee, and tonight News Five’s Aaron Humes revisits those moments.

 

Aaron Humes, Reporting

He earlier voted twice against its formation, and only after significant public pressure acquiesced to a modified version supported by Church colleague Ashley Rocke. But Immigration Minister Godwin Hulse maintained that he never had a problem with being investigated on the basis of the Auditor General’s report on the Immigration Department between 2011 and 2013.

 

Godwin Hulse

Godwin Hulse, Minister of Immigration [File: May 24th, 2017]

“I look forward to going there and to clarifying some of the points that are dangling in the public’s minds, and in fact, to setting the record straight with respect to many of the improvements and changes that we have made in the Department from those unfortunate dates to now, so I look quite forward to that. I have full support, all the time, for public inquiries; it was misconstrued and misrepresented and misunderstood when I voted in the Senate initially, two times, with respect to the Senate inquiry because I am a structured person and I am not driven by the emotion of the day and how we feel. I am a strict, structured person and therefore I have always maintained that the structures should be complied with and be honored and be respected.”

 

The Report, the Minister’s own statements and previous testimony by others, shows that he was intimately involved with the day-to-day dealings of the Department – a role the former reformist turned government chief says he took very seriously. He also maintained that he was never part of any corrupt ring like the kind that former Finance Officer Teresita Castellanos testified to at the Senate.

 

Godwin Hulse [File: February 20th, 2017]

“As Minister of Immigration, when I actually signed, I held back a lot of files and did all sort of personal investigation. That is not for the Minister to do; that is for the officers up the road. When that file comes to me, signed by the Director, signed by the Head of the Department, and I do a cursory look, sometimes there are twenty, thirty, forty, files. Sometimes you hope that, God, everything is in order. There were also people who go out to ask questions where people were living – those people were in the department. They are also responsible and I would hope that the investigation would bring out all the names of those and not just focusing on which Minister mi give which permit and who mi call what – run the gambit from the top to the bottom. Because if there is a ring, I will tell you the honest truth, I would hope that every damn one goes to jail who was involved in this. And we confiscate the passport and nationality of everyone who got.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“Sir, but some of these things happened under your watch – really and truly?”

 

Godwin Hulse

“Yes; some of it did, and I have to take responsibility as the ultimate.”

 

Godwin Hulse [File: February 21st, 2017]

“I hope Miss Castellanos had no intention of mentioning me as part of any ring of corruption. So when she said the top, I hope she didn’t say me. I wasn’t listening in, because clearly I was never and would never be involved in that and everybody knows that. Everybody in that Department knows that, from day one.”

 

Reporter

“Sir, Miss Castellanos said that Former Director of Immigration Maria Marin, herself, tried to curb some of these irregular actions but they had no support from the Ministry?”

 

Godwin Hulse

“What yuh mean from the Ministry? Because I could tell you that I was pretty much married to them. In a Ministry of Labour, Local Government, Rural Development, NEMO, Meteorology, Hydrology and Police; I was pretty much managed the Department of Immigration – my day started at eight in the morning and ended at midnight.”

 

But one thing Hulse will certainly have to explain when he appears on Wednesday is why he is so gung-ho about Mainland Chinese visiting Belize and bringing others with them, to the point that he seems willing to put away the standing regulations.

 

Godwin Hulse [File: January 19th, 2017]

“The visa is to visit Belize, for thirty days; it is a visitor’s visa. You have to have a criteria to come, a place to stay, and a return ticket. You meet that – I wish the billion Chinese would come, because if you do the billion by the two thousand per Chinese, we would never have to pay any taxes or work for the rest of my life at least, and everything would be hunky-dory and free. I don’t have that problem. I also don’t have a problem with any Minister recommending; we live in a real world, you know, and these guys you know they get contributions from…”

 

Reporter

“Recommending people that they don’t know, that was the issue…”

 

Godwin Hulse

“You don’t have to know the people, man! This is silly to say that you know!”

 

Reporter

“And the numbers that they were recommending as well…”

 

Godwin Hulse

“Marisol, listen to me, you don’t have to know the people. If you come to me and you want to say I bring my cousin, and you are a contributor to me and you are asking me for a favour, and I say please look at the file for Marisol’s cousin, and all is in order, facilitate if you can, what is wrong with that? You know what I would have a problem with? If a Minister goes to a Director of Immigration and says, “This is illegal, make sure he gets a visa, etc.”  That would be totally and completely wrong…”

 

Aaron Humes reporting for News Five.

 

As always News Five will have live gavel-to-gavel coverage beginning at ten Wednesday morning and highlights in Wednesday’s newscast.

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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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