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Dec 2, 2013

More than one hundred and fifty visas approved on a weekly basis

Tonight News Five takes to the visa trail again as we continue to assemble the pieces in a massive visa scheme. Our investigation so far has revealed the involvement of various senior U.D.P. ministers who facilitated the procurement of Belizean visas for Chinese nationals on a weekly basis. This scandal broke in September with the revelation that a former U.D.P. Minister of State, Elvin Penner, played a very central role in obtaining Belizean nationality and a Belizean passport for South Korean Wonhong Kim, imprisoned at the time in Taiwan. That revelation, followed by allegations of visa corruption levied at another U.D.P. Minister of State, Edmond Castro, have resulted in the opening of a humongous can of very big, senior political worms. Mike Rudon took a look at some of those worms and has the story.

 

Mike Rudon, Reporting

Edmond Castro, Elvin Penner, Ismael ‘Miley’ Garcia, Frank ‘Pawpa’ Mena, Rene Montero, Erwin Contreras, Candelaria Saldivar, Pablo Marin, Charles Gibson…these are just some of the names which have come up in an investigation into the issuance of visas based on written recommendations by highly placed political officials. What you see here is for the period May 2013 to July 2013 – more than one hundred and fifty visas approved on a weekly basis for UDP Ministers and even UDP caretakers like Ismael Garcia and Frank Mena. We attempted to bring it to the Prime Minister’s attention last week, but he seems to be a believer in doing away with the proverbial messenger.

 

Dean Barrow, Prime Minister

Dean Barrow

“I don’t watch the news but I know what you are saying though…no worry. And I know that you are…bwoy and I tell you as I indicated earlier in terms of the sugar industry dispute we have to talk man because if we simply followed our instincts, we’re not allowed to because if we were I would have banned all like Channel 5…”

 

But banning the messenger does not change the message, as unpalatable as it may be. And tonight it may be especially so, since we’ve gotten documents which show that Minister of Police John Saldivar did intervene on behalf of Chinese nationals. In this memo dated April thirtieth from the office of John Saldivar’s sister Candelaria Saldivar to Director of Immigration Maria Marin – Marin is asked to consider five applications submitted on behalf of John Saldivar.

 

In June Minister of Police John Saldivar recommended five more Chinese nationals, and in July an additional five.

 

John Saldivar

John Saldivar, Minister of National Security (File: Oct 31, 2013)

“In terms of persons wanting intervention…I think that has been explained over and over in the press that area representatives are called upon by their constituents to give recommendations for various government services and we do that in the normal course of things and I will repeat since you may not have gotten that memo…I am not in any way involved in any, any visa scam.”

 

Reporter

“But a legitimate visa in the normal course wouldn’t need a recommendation per se…a covering letter from a minister – even a generic covering letter…”

 

John Saldivar

“I have never issued any letter. I have simply called at times to try and see the process through but that’s about it. I have never written any letter. That has never occurred with me.”

 

It certainly occurred to us after we saw the memo submitting visa applications on Minister Saldivar’s behalf. Anyway, according to Prime Minister Dean Barrow, ministers can’t influence visa approvals so it makes no sense for them to be paid for those recommendations. Of course, we know that there are Chinese power-brokers in Belize willing to pay big bucks for visa facilitations.

 

Dean Barrow, Prime Minister

“How would anybody pay you for letters of recommendation when you cannot guarantee that they will get visas – you should check how many of the people for whom letters were written actually received visas. Go to the director and find out…”

 

In the documents we received, receipt numbers after approval are clearly listed, along with the names of ministers and political officials for whom the visas were facilitated. We’ll keep following the trail to see where it leads us.  Mike Rudon for News Five.

 

While we continue to follow the visa trail, the official visa investigation seems to be at a standstill with no word on what has been uncovered so far. In fact, there are reports that the investigation only focused on files that ended up in the hands of an attorney.

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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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22 Responses for “More than one hundred and fifty visas approved on a weekly basis”

  1. beachman says:

    No wonder Taiwan keep investing in Belize. Govt officials give Bz visas to Taiwanese citizens in exchange for ‘financial considerations’?

  2. Moses says:

    Enough already with this visa crap. We all know what the deal is. Beating a dead horse. VisaHustle tax = money for the poor. The other side hustled for themselves. Castro hustle fu wee. give it a rest, alraedy.

  3. Beano for Ali Baba says:

    “How would anybody pay you for letters of recommendation when you cannot guarantee that they will get visas –”

    Ali Baba, they would not pay me, I am not a criminal like you or your band of thieves.

    Since you brought it up:

    1) How do you cash out the crime?

    2) Do the ministers pay you a cut when they check into the immigration machine, or are they free agents?

    3) If they don’t pay you a cut, what do they trade to support your personal criminal enterprise?

    Generally, how does your criminal accounting system work?

  4. Ali Baba has Beano says:

    “Of course, we know that there are Chinese power-brokers in Belize willing to pay big bucks for visa facilitations.”

    “And of course, we know we have to get into that action. As a UDP corruption officer I am obliged to take the big bucks. Why else would I be in government?”

  5. Ali Baba has Beano says:

    “I don’t watch the news but I know what you are saying though…no worry. And I know that you are…bwoy and I tell you as I indicated earlier in terms of the sugar industry dispute we have to talk man because if we simply followed our instincts, we’re not allowed to because if we were I would have banned all like Channel 5…”

    And this guy has a law degree and can speak English?
    Much of what he says in babble.
    He must be thinking about something else when he is talking.

  6. Ali Baba has Beano says:

    “if we simply followed our instincts, I would have banned all like Channel 5…”

    and if Ali Baba (UDP emperor and Liar in Chief) was smart enough he would be stealing more.

    In his perfect world, that is.

  7. Ali Baba has Beano says:

    “we’re not allowed to”

    Like that is going to stop this criminal with self restraint?

    He tried to ban ch5 in the past, maybe his next shot will work.

  8. Salvidar needs Beano says:

    “I am not in any way involved in any, any visa scam.”

    Every criminal dollar I take in, I pay a cut to Ali Baba.
    I have never scammed Ali Baba.
    Ali Baba has never scammed me.
    As a band of thieves we swear a blood oath, my thieving is clean.
    As the head of National Security, I take this oath very seriously.
    If I buckle, then Penner or Contrerass might flip.
    Ali Baba’s brothers & sister, listen up. You no flip. Remember your blood oath.
    I will make you pay hard if you flip.
    That is why I am National Security and the head of Ali Baba’s security.

  9. Nesher says:

    Dean Barrow, Prime Minister

    “How would anybody pay you for letters of recommendation when you cannot guarantee that they will get visas – you should check how many of the people for whom letters were written actually received visas. Go to the director and find out…”

    dis wud be funny if it weren’t such a serious matter, it is plain n simple dat a recommendation from any Gov’t Sinister GUARANTEES you will get ur visa here in Belize.

  10. KLR says:

    PM Barrow……. please stop patronizing the Belizean people! Do you honestly believe that we are that stupid? Your band of minister and “caretakers” are such an embarrassment to the country! GREED, GREED will destroy them all. Do they not read the Bible?

    Oh by the way…. please note that the US embassy is taking stock of all the happenings in the country. Also, please warn them before any of their travels to the states….they might not return to Belize…just saying

  11. Hatari says:

    When will the people ever stand up to these criminals? Much of the fault lies with the people who elected them. They took their bribes of cash and rum and t-shirts and look what it has gotten us. Belize is becoming the laughing stock of the region.

  12. venus says:

    One of the criteria for recommending is to know the person for who you are recommending. Did any of these officials know the people they were recommending?
    @ Moses when corruption is allowed to take root it affects the entire country .

  13. Rod says:

    Damm thieves lock them all up now we need to make citizens arrest now enough is enough why in the world do belizeans keep taking this crap getting their heads stomped on Daily my question is are belizeans just plain coward or are they really just stupid to keep taking it up the yin yang.

  14. Salvidar needs Beano says:

    @beachman

    I got to wonder if the Taiwanese ambassador is in on the deal.
    Clearly they must be aware of the explosion of dual citizenships.

  15. Beano for Ali Baba says:

    @MOSES

    So what do you propose?
    Ignore it?
    Justify it because PUP did it?
    Accept corrupt government because it is the true Belizean way?
    stop reporting it, I am tired of hearing about it?

    The real story is not selling visas and passports.
    The real story is that GOB is full of criminals.

  16. ceo says:

    Is the PM really this ignorant or dictatorial to threaten a media house of being banned because they are showing him how dishonest his administration has been? Really? I guess he believes if he can only shut up his critics the crap really didn’t happen! Just govern above board and you would have nothing to hide or cover up; simple! If they got visas or not Mr. Barrow the focus is on their intent to decieve. I do not know any Belizean with that many chiny friends.

  17. believeinbelize says:

    Hay: all you PUP out there screaming about a visa scam against the opposition inpower.didnt I hear the same thing about you? I guess this is one solid reason why yoy can show the people so much evidence. Let them know that these are coming from your very own arcives.

  18. FAIR JUSTICE says:

    Thats nothing……there is much more.

  19. Tony says:

    Everybody knows the Belizean Rulers and not Leaders have Belize for Sale. It is in the For Sale Ads in newspapers in all of Europe. Most of them China, Taiwan and Arab States. LOL…. look around Belize and you can see is buying. Castro is not for poor. Castro is for Castro and Castro alone…. Unless he comes by and drops off a bag now and then. For the Belizeans who keep voting in these educated derelicts should realize that they care about their pockets and do not give a rats….@$$ about Belize. Why would the CEO chop down his money trees. You will make him poor for god’s sake and then he would like the 99% of Belizeans. We can have that now! Just cut the check like they say!!! …. And here is your VISA!!!

  20. Belizean ghetto says:

    Hey Dean please come back to the US, you forgot to take your useless spine with you. U heartless, spineless idiot. F the GOV of Belize. Keep the trail news 5 to see where it will lead but I know its going lead u into Dean Barrow and Musa spineless A**

  21. Citizen says:

    Seems almost every minister has his fingers dipping in the corrupt illegal enrichment scheme. Even Care taker now know a hell of a lot of Chinese. Despite no one need to recommend any person applying for visa legally, in Belize, ministers, caretakers, CEO’S all need to recommend you as long as you are a Chinese, so that they can illegally collect. Why were we paying Penner a salary as Immigration minister, if he had to recommend people for visa as well…lol PM …you need to take back all the moneys stolen, by all illegally enriching themselves, because as long as these funds did not enter government coffers, it was stolen.

  22. the observer says:

    It appears the Hon. PM can’t control his corrupt minister’s and is forced to have egg on his face?
    If you can’t control them its time to call early election and start fresh with a new group, I like the Mayor of Belize city to get in the race, he seems not afraid to clean up messes!

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