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Oct 25, 2013

Prime Minister returns to the country…and dodges the media

Prime Minister Dean Barrow has been out of the country for more than a week – combining official and medical business. One day before he left the country, the PM reported that new immigration evidence had been discovered which damned Elvin Penner. Penner was invited to resign, but hadn’t. So that situation was very much up front and center. Then, while the PM was gone, the Edmund Castro visa scandal broke. A very credible informant surfaced who claims that she paid Castro two thousand dollars to facilitate the immediate processing of visas for Chinese nationals – that’s two thousand dollars each. She provided details of the payment, details of visits to Castro’s office and details of the procedure from payment to collection. Penner was plenty bad enough, and with the new evidence surfacing against another of his Ministers of State, the PM must have been dreading his return to reality. This afternoon supporters waited at the P.G.I.A. to welcome the leader of the nation home, with open arms and so did the media but with cameras. Mike Rudon was part of the welcoming committee.

 

Mike Rudon, Reporting

Prime Minister Dean Barrow arrived in the country this afternoon aboard a United Airlines flight, and strangely enough, a rabble of party supporters wearing bright red shirts and waving U.D.P. flags waited to welcome him home. That’s something you don’t see every day – like this sign proclaiming love for the Prime Minister. We can only imagine that the party felt like its leader needed some measure of comfort and support at what must be a very stressful time for him.

 

First, there’s the situation with Mr. Elvin Penner, a scandal which surfaced when a South Korean national was given a Belizean passport, facilitated by Penner. That opened a can of worms in the Ministry of Immigration. Penner did the deed, but where does the buck stop – at Hulse or at the Prime Minister, who gave Penner permission to sign as Minister.

 

Elvin Penner

Godwin Hulse, Minister of Immigration [File: October 11, 2013]

“What I will say is what the prime minister has also said. We know that there’s been utter corruption in the department which we’ve been trying to deal with…”

 

Godwin Hulse [File: October 10, 2013]

“It is a decision that I came to rue, it is a decision that I will regret until the end of my days, but that is how that took place.”

 

Edmund Castro

The Penner situation has not gone away even though all official channels of information have been locked down. And now there’s the situation with Edmund Castro, which erupted during his absence. For the Prime Minister, this must be like déjà vu all over again. In November, 2010, Castro was fired from government duties because of evidence that he carried out a land scam, swindling money from a Belizean-American woman. Retribution was swift and Castro was kicked out.

 

Godwin Hulse [File: November 25, 2010]

“I, as I’ve always indicated, will act when I come into position of evidence that convinces me that any member of my government has not stuck to the straight and narrow in the way I expect. I won’t go beyond that.”

 

But a year and a half later he was back in favour with his boss, all evidence of prior corruption forgotten…or at least forgiven. In March 2012 Castro was named a Minister of State, again. And here we are…another allegation of corruption, this one much more serious.

 

Voice of: Visa Facilitator [File: October 23, 2013]

“Money was discussed at that time. He said, you know, that has a cost. And we talked about it over the phone…how much was the cost. He said well I’m going to charge you like two thousand for each one, per passport visa. When I got the application forms and everything I would contact Minister Castro that maybe tomorrow or the next day I would be coming to your office and he would say well okay I’ll be there. And when I go to his office, well obviously this wasn’t the first time that something of that nature was being done through Minister Castro’s office because when I took the application and everything there he would then mention to his secretary well I want you to prepare six of those letters, those recommendations off the computer for immigration.”

 

Reporter

“So your contact, the one who came to you in the first place – he would bring what to you?”

 

Voice of: Visa Facilitator

“He would bring the application formed, the Chinese passports and the money, but the money he would bring is only Minister Castro’s money. My money and the government’s money would have to wait until the process is finished. Okay, so when I go to Minister Castro’s office, before he has his secretary do these letters, I have to pay him first. He would say well let me see what you have for me…how much money. One time when I took twelve thousand dollars for six passports he said ah come on, you know you’re making more than this…I think I should be paid three thousand for one but then I told him I can’t do that.”

 

Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown, and the buck, without question, must stop at the Prime Minister. He has a lot to consider, not the least of which is the fact that his administration only holds on to a razor-thin majority in the House of Representatives.

 

Prime Minister Dean Barrow [File: October 10, 2013]

Dean Barrow

“…if there is one thing that can and will bring down this government it is hustling in immigration. I have heard that there are ministers who are procuring visas for people. I have said pretty much every second cabinet, if you are doing so, I have no proof, for God sake stop it, stop it! That is what will cause the government to fall.”

 

Today Prime Minister Dean Barrow dodged the media – for the very first time since he became Prime Minister. While we all waited for him out front, his official vehicle was parked on the tarmac awaiting his arrival. By the time we noticed him he was already being greeted by the crowd at the entrance to the airport. We approached him, but in a move that is very much out of character, he departed speedily when he saw the media.

 

We’ll catch up to him sooner or later, because the cans keep getting bigger and the worms keep coming out. Mike Rudon for News Five.

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12 Responses for “Prime Minister returns to the country…and dodges the media”

  1. Belizean Sun says:

    This so called ‘whistle blower’ needs to be put in the same basket as Castro. She’s just as guilty

  2. Rod says:

    This pm needs to be locked up also he is in collusion with all the thieving corrupt ministers rise up belizeans show the world that you are not spineless we need to arrest the pm ministers and police involved all should be locked up where the hell is the pup on all these thing going on .

  3. sickntired says:

    I no sorry fi dis ya bunch at all. I out ya wid no job and haffi hustle fi mi family survive and they no got wah dalla fi give me. God will punish them cause they onle tief fi themself and no share job nor nothing wid anybody else. Them not woulda give me wah recomendation fi get a job but yes bribe them and you could get visa and passport.

  4. Mizz Barrow says:

    Stop blaming mi bredda fu everything. Him innocent. Him no no nutin. Him innocent. Mi lee bredda gone da California fu fix his testicles, cause them develop wan bad leak.

    land grabbing? Visa selling? Drugs moving through Belize? Paying street gangs to keep the streets safe? Passport selling? Dean Barrow knows nothing.

    In South Central Los Angeles, or Obeah Alley in New Orleans, Belizean passports are available for sale. Cons looking for new identities are the ones buying these Belizean passports. Who’s cashing in on these illicit monies?

    Hint hint: Who recently visited South Central Los Angeles? Mi lee bredda, Dean is an innocent man. Lay off him.

  5. Love says:

    Hulse said, “I, as I’ve always indicated, will act when I come into position of evidence that convinces me that any member of my government has not stuck to the straight and narrow in the way I expect. I won’t go beyond that.”

    Which part of this statement is true today? THE MAN IS SITTING ON A GOLD MINE OF information and have not called the police, because evidence, have to be shredded. Where is the yellow ribbon that would indicate that this is a crime seen at the Immigration Department? Now PM knew from before hand that he had to make arrangement to be picked up in the compound, JUST TO AVOID REPORTERS. How do we call this… T R A N S P A R E N C Y?

  6. Al Rich says:

    I am waiting to hear when the sonic boom reverberate the PM’s own dirty deal. This government has been turning it’s head on so much stuff. The drug planes that lands on the highways, the officials who all escaped charges, one as I remember was the driver for a very high official.

    What makes me sad is the stupidity of those that are still supporting this man and these people who are getting rich on their backs and keeping them one step from a worse life than they have. The worse part is that it is the poor of the poorest that are carrying and waving the flags to keep these corrupt people. I know where there is smoke there is fire,so I would guess they are paying these flag wavers to wave these flags. There again another group that can be bought for a few dollars that is gone in a moment. Please talk to my people to stop settling for short term gain and look for long term gain.

  7. Indian woman says:

    The country is being run by idiots.. What is to expected?? and truthfully…. Most of the citizens are not much better!! Two facts. Just look at the spectacle when it’s voting time.

  8. thamax100 says:

    Barrow reply will be it a case of a (HOT BED OF CORUPTION) LMAO

  9. Buju says:

    Like we are casting judgement before we hear the facts

    My question is: all of a sudden this person who was doing wrong cant miriculously turn around and have a change of heart and be this innocent law abiding citizen?

    This smells like a conspiracy to me!

    Lets ask a few questions:
    1 – Is this person a productive person in society?
    2 – Does this person have any political affiliations?
    3 – Has this person been abiding by the laws?
    4 – Lets interview this persons neighbours or people who know her and see if she is credible?
    5 – Has this person done anything like this before?
    6 – Why come forward now?
    7 – What changed your mind?

    If she can come and stop hiding behind a few malicious statements then I would listen to her

  10. Rufus says:

    “You can run but you can’t hide”

  11. GrigaMan says:

    The whistle-blower is a true Belizean patriot – the Belizean version of Edward Snowden. It takes someone with insider knowledge to reveal and unravel the corruption. She displayed great courage and resolve to do what she did; may God Bless her and keep her safe. The UDP cronies (including the Police and the gangbangers) will try to assassinate her to keep a lid on this. We should dissolve the current Belizean Government and Cabinet, and call new elections – this is the perfect time for a new Third party – no more UPD or PUP; the are both equally corrupted, heartless and treasonous.

  12. Al Rich says:

    Buju you are so stupid. You should be glad that someone who knew what they had done was wrong and is willing to come forward and say to the people that there is corruption in our government. How can you call this judgment before facts. How much more facts do you want. Penners signature on false documents are not enough. The PM saying he knows his ministers are taking money for visas is not enough.

    People like you is one reason why the country is in the state that it is in right now. Get your brain out of your back pocket.

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