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Feb 29, 2008

Venezuelans yet to respond on mysterious millions; G.O.B. to send 2nd inquiry

“These things take time”. That’s the word out of Belmopan tonight as questions continue to surround an official letter which indicates that Venezuela gave Belize twenty million US dollars in grant money, and not ten million as the Musa administration had publicized. According to financial secretary Joe Waight, an official inquiry to banking officials in Caracas was made on Monday and while he had been hoping for some sort of response by today, the FinSec says, “We have been in communication as protocol requires, through the embassy here. We have been assured that our letter was sent by fax to the bank but it’s a large bureaucracy and we have to give them time to respond…we have to find the right people to respond.” But cognizant of the growing impatience of both the public and the media, Waight says a second inquiry will be made next Monday, again asking for clarification of the letter and the agreement made between Venezuela and Belize in late 2007. Regarding suggestions put forward for an official mission to the South American country, Waight says “you just can’t send a team without knocking on a door first…you must first find out if your visit will be accepted and that you’ll be received before you go”. The financial secretary emphasized, “Venezuela is a good friend and you don’t want to say or do anything to disturb good relations until we know what the facts are.” The Ministry of Finance was made aware of the letter on February twenty-second and an official letter was sent the following Monday. The document in question was dated February eight and addressed to then Chief Executive Officer at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Amalia Mai. In the letter, Mai is asked to provide accounting of twenty million U.S. dollars sent to Belize for the purposes of home repair and construction and a new track at the National Stadium. Officials of the Musa administration have declined to give interviews on the subject but via a press release this week maintained that the December twenty-eight agreement was for only ten million U.S. dollars.

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