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Jul 12, 2017

Minister Downplays Connection with Immigration Officer

Mark Lizarraga

The Auditor General highlighted multiple cases where members of the Harmouch family applied for nationality but did not meet the residency requirement. The common denominator is that they were recommended by Heredia Junior and then by clerk in the Nationality Section, Gertrude Armstrong.  It has repeatedly been pointed out by immigration officers testifying at the Committee that they were directed by ministers to present files for review and facilitate completion of files for processing, under threat of dismissal or transfer. But Minister Heredia Junior contends that he had no control over the internal processes of the Department and made no overtures suggesting favorable treatment for that family or any others whom he helped guide in the Immigration process.


Mark Lizarraga, Senator, Business Community

“There are several cases, certainly, one Ammar Harmouch – are you familiar with the name?”


Manuel Heredia Jr.

Manuel Heredia Jr., Minister of Tourism and Civil Aviation

“Yes, but several Ahmads as you mentioned so am not sure which one…”


Mark Lizarraga

“This is Ammar Harmouch, A-M-M-A-R; Ammar Harmouch, where she is saying she did not meet the five year requirement. Again she states that you requested the file and that this file request was minuted by this same Gertrude Armstrong, again, saying that you requested the file even though this person did not meet the five years. So there is a series of cases like this, Minister, where we see the same people, the same players the same last names – Heredia, Armstrong, Harmouch; Heredia, Armstrong, Harmouch – and the Auditor General has picked out quite a bit as the Senator referred to basically from paragraph one-oh-two to paragraph one-sixteen. Those same names keep coming up.”


Manuel Heredia Jr.

“And you will find out that if they go to the number of other files that I recommended, you will find out that you will find Heredia over there regularly also. But I don’t see anything wrong, that because I am singled out with this particular person, that it was just something common between myself and the Harmouches and Miss Armstrong.”


Mark Lizarraga

“Minister, when you made interventions on behalf of your constituents, how did the people in the Department know that this was for Minister Heredia? Tell me about that.”


Manuel Heredia Jr.

“Because as I said I have copies of the receipts…”


Mark Lizarraga

“No, I’m taking about when you took it into the Department.”


Manuel Heredia Jr.

“Took what to the Department?”


Mark Lizarraga

“What happened when you…explain to me when you intervened, what was your intervention and how was it done?


Manuel Heredia Jr.

“I think that I have been very clear, in that I have said that my only intervention is that I will go with my receipt, check the status of the BNA number. That is all the intervention in those cases.”

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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2 Responses for “Minister Downplays Connection with Immigration Officer”

  1. Marie says:

    I told you Belizean already, get rid of the old gangsters in UDP and PUP. Get new faces and people with mew ideas.

  2. Uncle Beji says:

    From the rinky dink offices of Net Vasquez audit firm to the international offices of KPMG, as an auditor, I simply present facts. I do not accuse. I present proof, evidence, facts and make recommendations. Nothing more.

    The auditor general of Belize has presented proof, evidence, facts that there is corruption within the immigration department that reaches all the way up to the offices of elected officials. So where are the culprits?

    Minister after minister testifying and all we hear is “it wasn’t me.” “Define the meaning of” “I never asked what was in the package”. “I do not know that woman.”

    Belize wake up. Da fool di talk, but da no fool di listen. This is a worldwide laughing at us joke. The world see us as stupid.

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