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Jan 10, 2020

P.U.P. Says “Election Manipulation Must End Now”

For three days this week, hundreds of immigrants from Central America, and elsewhere, turned up at the political office of U.D.P. standard bearer Dianne Finnegan with immigration documents in hand.  They were there to get assistance to get their nationality moved quickly through the process.  It is an election year so there is a wild rush to get people on the voters list.  The practice has happened time and again and Belizean passports have many times illegally ended up in the hands of undesirable persons.  So this week’s long lines at Finnegan’s Lake I political office was slammed promptly by the People’s United Party. Here is News Five’s Duane Moody.


Duane Moody, Reporting

It is being called a blatant and open manipulation of the election process through the mass nationalization of immigrants by the U.D.P.  Over the past three days hundreds of immigrants lined up at the Partridge Street office of U.D.P. Lake I standard bearer Dianne Finnegan where their nationality documents were being collected to facilitate nationality. With a looming general election, the Opposition Leader John Briceño says it is with the clear expectation that when their immigration status is regularized, these immigrants will then vote for the U.D.P.


John Briceño

John Briceño, Leader of the Opposition

“It’s an indictment not only on the Immigration Department, but an indictment on the government. A government that is just hell-bent on trying to see how they can steal another elections. A lot of these U.D.P. standard bearers are behaving like standard bearers are behaving like government ministers. They have absolutely no legal standing to be behaving in such a fashion. But the issue of immigration is also like déjà vu; here we go again. I think the Belizean people have been very clear when it comes to the issue of issuing a Belizean nationality. It is something that they dislike when politicians try to use it for their political advantage.”


Dianne Finnegan, U.D.P. Standard Bearer, Lake Independence

“I have not mentioned to anybody that I am processing their papers. They are here to get information to meet with the minister on Monday. She is the only person who can tell them how to go about getting their papers. Please don’t turn this into a political thing.”


Duane Moody

“What services are being provided to these persons today?”


Dianne Finnegan

Dianne Finnegan



Duane Moody

“So why are they here?”


Dianne Finnegan

“The only reason they are there, some of them brought their documents. There are a lot of them who already have their residency. Some of them have their receipts for their nationality, but it has taken such a long time. If you can help them to speed up the process to get their documents, why not?”


Duane Moody

“These people are not registered voters in the country?”


Dianne Finnegan

“Well you will be surprised that a lot of them are.  Some of them are coming to apply for either a partner or a child or a family member.”


The activities of the past few days will be followed by a meeting scheduled for five-thirty p.m. on January thirteenth at the Swift Hall in Lake Independence with Minister of State for Immigration, Beverly Williams. While Williams says that the process will not fast track their immigration status, it is the hope that in exchange, these persons would then be eligible to vote.


Beverly Williams

Beverly Williams, Minister of State, Immigration

“I don’t believe that Miss Finnegan will be able to do anything with those. Maybe she is collecting so it is an easier way for us to review in advising. We would look at those documents and advise. There will be nothing official issued at Swift Hall. It cannot be when it has to be processed in the computer. Some of those things go before a committee. If we sit with these people, explain to them that immigration does not have a big stick approach; we are not coming to get you, we really want to help you. If you are already embed in our society, you are already here contributing in some way or the other, let’s try and make it more positive so that you can remain in country and participate.”


John Briceño

“It points out that there are a lot of other people, other citizens who have been living in Belize for many years that have been trying to follow the process and they are being overlooked, they are being skipped. It is almost as if you don’t have to follow the process, come to me and I am going to get your nationality. But the irony of all of this is that the U.D.P. has horrendous records when it comes to how they deal with records.”


While Minister Bev maintains that there is nothing sinister about the events outside of Finnegan’s political office or the meeting to be held on January thirteenth, the P.U.P. says that it is a shameful practice that “the U.D.P. have done since 2020 when Elvin Penner was caught on camera paying for and pushing through nationalities for immigrants in his area.” This along with the Won Hong Kim fiasco had triggered the Senate Inquiry on the Immigration Department, for which a report is still pending.


John Briceño

“It reminds me of some very ugly pictures when 2012, when at that time Minister Penner had files and files in his hand, putting it on the bonnet of a vehicle and proudly saying that he is getting his people registered. Minister Heredia when there were pictures of his people being inside the elections and boundaries office at night in San Pedro. These are some ugly pictures that brings across again that here we have a government that is desperate, the U.D.P., and will try to do anything possible to try to steal this election. The Belizean people have been very clear that this kind of behaviour must come to an end and we are going to be very clear, we are going to be very firm, we are going to be looking at every single application that these people are doing and to ensure that the law is followed and that we ensure that we have a clean elections.  This is the record of the P.U.P. the record of incompetence, arrogance and corruption.”


Briceño calls on the social partners as well as third parties to speak out against ‘election manipulation’ in order to protect Belize’s democracy.


John Briceño

“I think that the N.G.O. community, the Council of Churches, the Chamber also should be raising objections and trying to meet with the Prime Minister and the Minister of Immigration. And certainly us, in the Opposition, all political parties, we are supposed to be making as much noise as possible and ensuring that this does not proceed.”


Duane Moody for News Five.

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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