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Apr 23, 2003

U.S. finances high tech Belize passports

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With the SARS situation now clarified, we can report on the original reason for today’s press conference: an agreement with the United States under which Belize will upgrade the technology of its passports. U.S. Ambassador Russell Freeman gave details.

Russell Freeman, U.S. Ambassador to Belize

“Through this agreement the United States Government is providing nine hundred and eighty-five thousand U.S. dollars to help Belize establish a machine readable passport issuance programme that will thoroughly upgrade the appearance and security of the Belizean passport. The new Belizean passport will be as technologically advanced as any passport in Central America and will rival that of any passport system in the world.”

According to Freeman, the new technology would “speed Belizeans through immigration checkpoints at airports…around the world”. It would also somehow restore the integrity of the Belizean passport, an integrity badly tarnished by “repeated scandals involving the sale of citizenship and passports.” Exactly how this will come about is not exactly clear, particularly since not a single person has yet been charged with a crime. Like many of us, the ambassador is still waiting on the criminal justice system.

Russell Freeman

“We’re still waiting the results of the D.P.P.’s review of the criminal investigation. And we are expecting that there will be an indictments handed down as a result of that prosecution.”

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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