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Nov 29, 2013

The paper trail on the visa hustle involving UDP ministers

At a press conference on Wednesday, Prime Minister Dean Barrow scoffed at the evidence proving that Minister of State Edmond Castro is engaged in the large-scale procuring of visas for Chinese nationals. News Five first showed you the documents on Tuesday – documents which prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that Edmond Castro and other U.D.P. Ministers and officials are recommending visas exclusively for Chinese nationals on a weekly basis. In early October, Prime Minister Barrow lamented the fact that he had heard reports of a visa quota hustle in which his ministers were involved, but he said he had no proof of it. Well, News Five has the proof…but now, the Prime Minister isn’t interested. In fact, Barrow says that even if Minister Castro, or theoretically any U.D.P. Minister, signed a thousand visa recommendations for Chinese nationals, there is absolutely nothing he can do about it. Strange words indeed from the man who has always, at least in theory and in public speech, has spoken of transparency and accountability and demands the highest standards of behavior from his ministers. Tonight, Mike Rudon takes a walk along the paper trail – the approval process from minister to C.E.O. to Director of Immigration – as easy as one, two, three.

 

Mike Rudon, Reporting

Meet Minister of State Edmond Castro. He signed thirty-eight recommendations for Chinese nationals between May and July – five and six at a time on almost a weekly basis. Why did he do so – for so many…and all Chinese nationals? What was his motivation? No minister is required to sign recommendations for visas. There is an Immigration Department and there should be a clear-cut procedure.

 

Dean Barrow, Prime Minister

Dean Barrow

“Man in the normal course as I said Ministers are asked to do recommendations for all sorts of things including American visas, jobs and so on. Twenty-two or twenty-five or whatever is a far cry from two hundred. I don’t know then how you can still be stuck in that same groove.”

 

Minister Edmond Castro was certainly grooving on Chinese nationals – a lot of Chinese nationals. And if PM Barrow can’t see the difference between recommending somebody in your constituency for a job, and the mass recommending of unknown Chinese nationals for Belizean visas – well, we’ll just leave it at that.

 

Dean Barrow

“On the face of it Ministers are entitled or perhaps even obliged to write letters of recommendations.”

 

So what was Minister Castro’s incentive? Why was he obligated to sign visa recommendations for Chinese nationals he doesn’t even know? It’s a valid question and one which can be asked of other Ministers – including Rene Montero, Erwin Contreras, the long-lost Elvin Penner and many others. This list shows visas recommended by UDP ministers and caretakers from May to July, 2013. Does it look like there’s a pattern?

 

Dean Barrow

“Man in circumstances where there is a clear pattern I would have to be concerned. I do not think what you have produced Sir…and I don’t even know, I won’t get into whether what you say are legitimate signatures are…I’m not even going to go there…but I really don’t think that what you have produced Sir is at all cutting it especially in light of the effort made in view of the position I had taken by the Minister to ascertain whether any minister at all was seeking to influence the process.”

 

Here’s how it was done. Ministers like Edmond Castro would allegedly send over a package to the Immigration Department accompanied by a cover letter like this one. The package doesn’t go straight to Director of Immigration Maria Marin. Instead it is routed to the office of C.E.O. in the Ministry of Immigration Candelaria Saldivar. In Saldivar’s office, visa packages are compiled and attached to a cover memo from the C.E.O. to Maria Marin, the Director of Immigration. On that memo is typed the name of the Minister submitting those applications.

 

Dean Barrow

“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.”

 

So how’s this for a smoking gun? On May twenty-second, a list of visa applications were submitted – from C.E.O. Candelaria Saldivar to director Maria Marin. Six were on behalf of Edmond Castro and four on behalf of Elvin Penner. The notation beside the four from Elvin Penner, written in Marin’s writing states – requirements not met, picture unacceptable, no employment letter, no bank statement or proof of funds to sustain self as tourist in Belize. Yet, Marin approved those visas a few days later, on May thirty-first, 2013.

 

Dean Barrow

“Where the Director of Immigration is the one who determines whether somebody gets a visa…where the Director of Immigration in whom we have complete faith…where there are criteria that she applies in making her determination…where there is no suggestion that any minister and in this case Castro, tried to reach her…man if he signed two hundred visa recommendations, if he signed one thousand, I can do nothing”

 

Can’t do…or won’t do? Even as documents which are proof that his UDP Ministers are involved in procuring visas for Chinese nationals emerge, the Prime Minister remains completely unconcerned – a far cry from the man who stated just over a month ago that such a phenomenon could result in his administration’s downfall. Mike Rudon, reporting for News Five.

 

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14 Responses for “The paper trail on the visa hustle involving UDP ministers”

  1. FAIR JUSTICE says:

    This is a big shame for our nation. Dean Barrow is a disgrace and P.U.P is no different just a different bunch of thieves. We vote out Dean and put Fonseca we just d change monkey fi black daag. Their is no hope for a future in Belize. Belize is facing perilous times with this government. And it will only get worse. The rich will get richer and the poor poorer. The rich will suck on the poor like leeches.

  2. Joe Blank says:

    He is right. He “can”t do nothing”. Here is why. The first is the obvious; this administration is a listless ship serving out it’s time. They know they can’t hustle if they are in opposition. So, the racket goes on as Ministers make a future for themselves. The Ministers need their time to hustle .
    Barrow is already rich. The second and probably most important point is that the Ministers have taken a cue from their boss. Barrow and his family engage in “legal corruption”. So, Lois, Michael Young, Denys, and the Barrow children rape the country legally. Penner, Castro et al are too unsophisticated to cover their backsides legally.
    This is the problem with having lawyers as Prime Ministers. They see everything in legalistic terms. Morality does not factor into the equation. So, Deano is making a legal argument, not a moral one. That is why he is what he has always claimed to be the opposite of: Said Musa!!!

  3. Rod says:

    Man barrow you are looking like the big corrupt thief that you truly are but worse than that you and your policemen are now committing murder murder out in the open now if this doesn’t wake up you sorry ass belizeans then their is no hope for our country get some cojones belizeans we need to lock up judas and his band of thieves.

  4. Citizen says:

    It is obvious all the ministers were hustling, raking in the dollars, even though PM nor Hulse can find no evidence. We are ruled by thieves, because why even Penner who work at immigration had to recommend anyone. If you don’t recommend, you don’t collect the cheddars. Let’s look at the PM again. He have deliberately taken people’s properties, and those people who bought those properties also invested in those properties. The legal thing is to pay for those properties. Up to this point we don’t think he have paid one cent to the owners of BTL, BEL, AMABE, and all the ports taken. Yet these things are bringing millions of dollars. It was x wife collecting the millions in courts, and now it is brother. These are day light robberies, so he has been setting an example for younger leaders coming up in Belize, that is frightening. Of course all the other ministers see the PM and family raking all the $$$$ legally, so they had to get in on the hustle. The man can now boast of millions of dollars with which he will hand out flowers, but if these people need to be paid, do we have the money to pay them. People who are bullied always find justice, but to find justice in these things, is too much on our backs. Our reputation as a Hidden Paradise have now been changed, and I don’t know anyone who would think we are not ruled by a gang of thieves! We need to be concerned.

  5. Guerra says:

    It is obvious all the ministers were hustling, raking in the dollars, even though PM nor Hulse can find no evidence. We are ruled by thieves, because why even Penner who work at immigration had to recommend anyone. If you don’t recommend, you don’t collect the cheddars. Let’s look at the PM again. He have deliberately taken people’s properties, and those people who bought those properties also invested in those properties. The legal thing is to pay for those properties. Up to this point we don’t think he have paid one cent to the owners of BTL, BEL, AMABE, and all the ports taken. Yet these things are bringing millions of dollars. It was x wife collecting the millions in courts, and now it is brother. These are day light robberies, so he has been setting an example for younger leaders coming up in Belize, that is frightening. Of course all the other ministers see the PM and family raking all the $$$$ legally, so they had to get in on the hustle. The man can now boast of millions of dollars with which he will hand out flowers, but if these people need to be paid, do we have the money to pay them. People who are bullied always find justice, but to find justice in these things, is too much on our backs. Our reputation as a Hidden Paradise have now been changed, and I don’t know anyone who would think we are not ruled by a gang of thieves! We need to be concerned.

  6. Concern says:

    While this immigration scandal is beginning to unravelled, wave TV station is flooded with advertisement, because they must have money to last a truly loooooooooong time!

  7. Al Rich says:

    The leader of a country is saying he cannot do anything about one of his ministers being engaged in an act of treason. This is an out right shame and disgrace on the country and on the PM personally. How do you not do something about illegal activity among the people who are there to make sure the country is protected and ran properly and in order.

    Now the PM has even dragged the US Embassy into the act, as he claims they have issued american visas based on recommendation from the ministers. Wow, America you have now been dragged into the visa recommendation scheme. Barrow I think you have missed spoke boy. now the US embassy will have to defend itself against Alibaba and the forty thieves.
    This is a hot bed of burning coals that will burn for a while. I am waiting for the next world news print.

  8. venus says:

    The fact that the PM asks where is boots? Before he announce the suppose vista scheme implicate boots in the scheme.

  9. farmer says:

    ali baba got a beard…

  10. sickntired says:

    I remember when the whole country was very upset because of all the corruption under said musa. Everybody was so happy when dean barrow won cause he promised changes and cleaning up the place. Everybody believed him and looked up to dean barrow like a black Jesus come rescue Belize. What a heavy heart we got now and the shame when we see the changes were for the worst and the cleaning up is of the public coffers leaving regular citizens behind to fend for themselves. I truly feel let down big time cause I used to big up this govt and them just make me look bad. I just hope the opposition present a good slate so people feel good voting for them.

  11. beano for Belize says:

    Ministers hustle their crimes.

    Ali Baba orchestrates his prime.

    Belizeans don’t care.
    Being poor and stupid is our destiny.

    @sickntired
    why wait for a vote? national strike will flush them down the toilet.

  12. beano for Belize says:

    @Al Rich “cannot do anything about one of his ministers being engaged in an act of treason.”

    It is not one, it is all of them. All the honest ones left years ago. They believed the UDP BS about corruption. What we did not understand is that they were going to screw the country 10x worse than PUP.

    BTW, Fonseca and the old guard just need to realize they screwed up and step aside for the best of the country. They can’t clean house with their hand in the cookie jar.

  13. beano for Belize says:

    when the change comes, fix the constitution.

    make sure these criminals loose their wealth and spend their time in prison for treason.

    There is no deterrent, they steal, lie, and no one can stop them; and they know they can get away with it because they are above us all.

  14. beano for Belize says:

    @Guerra, you forgot to put the wink marks in.

    ” even though PM nor Hulse can find no evidence. ;-) ;-)

    if they can find no evidence means their work is done, all destroyed.

    Plus they just say “no crime. I am PM, no crime”
    The sanctimonious SOB sounds like Richard Nixon.
    If this was England 300 years ago, his head would be on a pike.
    He just thinks he is king, but he ain’t.

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