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Nov 27, 2013

Prime Minister addresses visa quota hustle at press conference

Tonight there is much more to bring you on the visa quota hustle. On Tuesday News Five had an exclusive look at documents which prove that Minister of State Edmund Castro was neck deep in the procurement of visas for Chinese nationals – sending in recommendations to the Director of Immigration almost weekly. But it wasn’t only Castro. Evidence shows that UDP Ministers aplenty, and even UDP officials, have become visa retailers, so to speak. Mike Rudon has more evidence tonight, against the backdrop of comments by Prime Minister Dean Barrow at a press conference this morning.


Mike Rudon, Reporting

On Tuesday’s newscast we showed you twenty-two visa recommendations by Minister of State Edmond Castro. All were for Chinese nationals. On May thirteenth alone Castro wrote to Director of Immigration Maria Marin asking her assistance in providing visas to eleven Chinese nationals. One week after, he recommended five more, and a week after that, another five. That’s twenty-one in two weeks. A little over a month ago, Prime Minister Dean Barrow stated that even ten or twenty times would point to a hustle by any minister responsible.


Dean Barrow, File

Dean Barrow

“If I hear you intervene 10 times and I hear you intervene 20 times – what I am to think? Except that you’re involved in a hustle. If you hang out with Ali Baba you must be one of the 40 thieves.”


But the Prime Minister today revisited and revised that bold proclamation. One month ago ten or twenty visa interventions would have branded you one of the forty thieves, but today twenty-one wasn’t even a smoking gun.


Dean Barrow

“Man if he signed two hundred visa recommendations, if he signed one thousand, I can do nothing. I can say to him bwoy, I have my own view and you must realize that out there people won’t think that you’re signing one hundred visas or seventy-five visa applications just like that.”


But whether the Prime Minister can do something about it or not, we have documents which prove that there is an institutionalized visa system catering to UDP Ministers and officials. We start with some more from Minister of State Edmund Castro.


On June twenty-sixth, Edmond Castro wrote to Director of Immigration Maria Marin asking assistance in providing visas to six Chinese nationals, names shown here. On July eleventh, Castro writes again to Director Marin, asking for her assistance for five Chinese nationals, and on July twenty-fourth, he writes seeking assistance for two more. Between May and July, Castro recommended visas for thirty-eight Chinese nationals.


Dean Barrow,  Prime Minister

“Having had the Ministers report to me that the director is crystal clear in saying that there was no effort in twisting her arm or even gently persuading her on the part of Castro to give any visa – man what you have produced is in my view not even remotely close to a smoking gun.”


The Prime Minister insists that the Director has verified that Castro at no point called her or, in his words, leaned on her, but from what we’ve uncovered, there was no need to. Documents show that the visa recommendations from Ministers were compiled in the office of C.E.O. Candelaria Saldivar and then forwarded to Director Maria Marin – so no minister had to deal with Marin personally.


This is a memo from the Chief Executive Officer to the Acting Director, Marin, dated May thirtieth. It is a list of four visa applications submitted on behalf of Rene Montero, the Minister of Works and Transport. Here’s another one dated June twenty-sixth, for six Chinese nationals – again submitted by Rene Montero.


On June 12th, a memo from the C.E.O. of Immigration to Director Marin submits seven visa applications on behalf of Chinese nationals for her consideration. These applications were submitted on behalf of Erwin Contreras, Minister of Trade.


And check out this one – a memo from the C.E.O. to Director Marin, also dated June twelfth, asking her consideration for three visa applications. These were submitted on behalf of the CEO in the Ministry of Immigration, Candelaria Saldivar.  Mike Rudon for News Five.


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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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7 Responses for “Prime Minister addresses visa quota hustle at press conference”

  1. beano for Belize says:

    the perfect quote for the prime unindicted co-conspirator describing criminal activity occurring in the cabinent

    Dean O Barrow: “I can do nothing.”

    Is he that impotent, or just a modest criminal mastermind?

  2. Concern says:

    So we can now understand why Johnny just call to sis. The visas are processed in the CEO room and passed out. In fact the CEO too seems to be in on the hustle by submitting request for seven on June 12th. The machete swinging PM is now flip flapping in a pool of hustling scandal because as long as he stays in power, they can rob the country blind, and he wouldn’t and couldn’t care! What a state we are putting our country in where the leaders can do as they please, as long as it keep the PM in government, everything is ok. This is truly the lowest of the lowest!

  3. Johnny Cash says:

    The prime minister of Latvia announced his resignation after the collapse of the Maxima supermarket. Belize sets a higher standard for such an event. Criminal activity will not meet that standard.

  4. Mr. Concern says:

    both hulse and barrow are criminal who will be remembered through history books and for the generation to see . Check it out

  5. Belmopan says:

    It the nation in general that failed not just Barrow and his cronies!!!! I am ashamed of all this and others.

  6. Belmopan says:

    It is the nation in general that failed not just Barrow and his cronies!!!! I am ashamed of all this and others.

  7. beano for Belize says:

    “is in my view not even remotely close to a smoking gun.”

    keep staring down the barrel Deano.
    at some point you become irrelevant.

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