Features — 15 November 2013

I must confess I have made it a personal choice not to be glued to my TV set every evening for the weekly dose of news from the various media houses … Honestly the negativity after a long day’s work is just too much, so I find time to just browse the transcripts as time allows or needs be. The reason I no longer wish to be sucked into the tubes or plasma, in these modern times, is because too often it seems Belize has gone mad … Mad to the point that we have to deal with men having sex with men fighting the rest of us, to being sued by some gay activist at the CCJ, to men gunning down and killing men on the streets, to men facilitating shipment of precursor drugs through Belize, to fugitive men obtaining Belizean passports to escape the law, to police brutalizing citizens and men raping women or abusing children … okay maybe I should re-phrase: it’s like our men have gone mad!

Recently the scandal that does not go away is the one involving our nationality. Our identity to the rest of the world and the pride of being a Belizean with a Belizean passport has been diminished. Penner has refused to resign; Castro denies he was bribed for visa recommendations; evidence is getting closer and closer to another elected minister. And Hulse, with all his big chats, has been emasculated by politics. The evidence is there and the police are not allowed to go in and find it. Shame on us!

Castro can’t stop Alvarine

Now anyone who has seen and heard Alvarine Burgess will tell you that she knows way too many details to be making up a story. Plus it seems she decided to blow the whistle because her back is in a corner. Now this is my assessment: if it is true the US embassy has recordings of her discussing visa issues with Castro and they have made the pressure come down on her, she better start whistling or else she will be left holding the bag. It may be that she got in way over her head and did not realize that while she made her cut on the hustle, the money could never cover what was to come. You see, Uncle Sam is quietly turning the screws on all of us because human trafficking, like drug trafficking, is impacting the USA because Belize illicitly facilitates it.

It is like a known fact that in Belize we all know who are the drug dealers, drug runners and those who are the dons living large off the proceeds of drugs … They live amongst us, yet the police just never get to bust them. Only the man with a stick of weed ends up in prison. The reason the drug barons will prosper and build empires, business houses and launder money without FIU intervention is simply that they contribute massively to campaign financing in this country … and the contributions are to both major parties. As a matter of fact, a few, from time to time have even held Ministerial offices … Orange Walk and Corozal steal the prize when it comes to this notoriety … whosoever threatens to sue will reveal who the cap fits … I challenge them!

Now, even more lucrative than drugs is the facilitation of human trafficking, something in which almost every Minister in the past two decades has dabbled in, even if under the guise of the so-called “economic citizenship programme.” I say it is facilitation because, the truth is, most of the Asians don’t want to live in Belize: they really want a stepping stone to the United States. As a matter of fact 99% of the Asians still living in Belize make sure that their children are born in America … Ask the US embassy to prove otherwise. Having a Belizean passport is just being opportunistic, and Uncle Sam is tired of Belize undermining their national security … So of course I believe they have been recording certain conversations … maybe even mine!

You see no matter what Castro does, he cannot stop Alvarine from blowing the whistle on him, and surely he cannot stop her from talking. She may be speaking up because she is fighting for her own freedom. Her life may be in danger, but she has shown no sign that she plans to give up the whistle.

Passport hustle – human trafficking

What Belizeans fail to realize is that a Belizean passport is so valuable because it can only be obtained if you have some legal status in Belize. So like “Citizen Kim,” he made sure he got Belizean nationality and claimed Belize as his place of domicile, so when deported or extradited, he could be deported to the country where he claims to be domiciled. He gladly gave up South Korean citizenship and domicile, so that Taiwan would be compelled to deport him “home.” But the truth is, he never ever came to Belize, yet Penner signed and attested to a document saying he did.

Other Asians, and variations of nationals worldwide, especially Chinese, Lebanese, Indians and Central Americans, at all cost seek to get Belizean nationality, claim Belizean citizenship and then build up a bank account and apply for a US visa and off they go to their land of milk and honey. Over the years tens of thousands have used Belize as a gateway to the USA. This, sadly, already has brought much scrutiny on genuine Belizeans like myself who travel for sheer fun or work. I predict soon the US will crack down so hard on visa issuance for Belizeans that it will be so tough to get a visa, yes, tougher than it presently is.

I saw on a recent trip a Chinese woman, unable to speak any English, at the immigration booth at the Miami airport and the officer asking her questions about her husband and she was unable to answer and he says to her but Belize’s official language is English, how you got a Belize passport? With her was a child of about 5 or 6 years and he spoke broad Creole and he then tells the immigration officer that his dad is in Belize and he and his mom are just going through to visit China. The officer says to the child, “I guess I should have been speaking to you.”

Often times people think about human trafficking as a truckload of illegals being crossed clandestinely over borderlines, like we see in the Mexican movies; or of people falsifying documents to cross borders; or women sold into servitude or the sex trade. The truth is, human trafficking occurs each time one of our Ministers of government signs a false document or is paid for recommendation, facilitates some nationality or passport for the person whose goal is to reach across some other border under the pretense of being a legally entitled Belizean citizen with properly vetted and issued passport.

By the passport racket we condone in Belize, what we have sought to do is nicely legalize human trafficking … be it through Cuba, Mexico, or some other frontier. We are responsible for all sorts using our passport to make it seemingly legally into many countries.

Another fugitive is Belizean

And the situation is so bad that now not only are ordinary people trafficked, but even fugitives are using the cover of a Belizean passport to escape the law. It seems long before “Citizen Kim” decided to shield himself behind Belizean nationality, Guatemalan Roberto Barreda, aka “Carlos Roberto Barreira Villareal,” had succeeded. Now I wonder which Minister along the Guatemalan border he knew and what kind of false birth certificate he used, as he and his two children were found with Belizean passports using false names. Some Minister or high-level immigration official had to have helped with the process, otherwise he could not pull it off.

Barreda had changed his name to mask his identity, so the Belizean passport was issued to him and his children under aliases. A search at our Immigration Department should turn up evidence of who signed off on Barreda’s documents.

It is disgusting to hear Belize’s name internationally as a place where corrupt politicians sell out passports, according to news reports. Every Belizean should be demanding accountability from our officials, since with our name stink abroad, so many of us will be hassled when visiting the US or elsewhere. But because of the narrow political margin, the once big-mouthed and arrogant Prime Minister, Dean Barrow, can no longer easily crack the whip over his Ministers and Ministers of State, as they have him by the proverbial balls. Rather, if Barrow wants to maintain himself in political office he now has to defend these same rogue Ministers so as not to lose one single seat and thus be de-throned.

Castro letters of recommendation

The situation is so desperate that the PM is unable to force or sanction a full forensic investigation at the Immigration Department. For example, one simple thing that can be done, if the PM indeed wanted transparency and accountability, is that he could sanction a check of all the recommendation letters on file for visas, to determine if Alvarine Burgess’ claim that Edmund Castor signed some 200 such recommendations are true.

Burgess said on the Dickie Bradley show : “…And then he [Castro] would then call in his secretary and he would mention to her to please print out recommendation letters in the names of these people and each letter had to be two copies because he had to keep one there at his office and one had to go to immigration … After she does the letters, she gives it to him, he signs it, she stamps it and put everything in an envelope and that is sent to the director of immigration; that was what was always on the brown envelope. But that was sent from his office; that never came into my hand again.”

Castro says she is lying. To settle this all the PM has to do is have his lackey, Godwin Hulse, or the police do a comprehensive review of all visa applications and issuances since last year to present, and determine if indeed these recommendation letters are on file. Plus, remember she also explained that the letter had to have Castro’s stamp and so even at Castro’s office or house such stamped letters should be found. Further, Castro’s secretary can be questioned about Burgess’ allegations and her computer can be confiscated by police and handed over to experts who can track every letter she ever wrote. But then again, by now I believe all is being done to destroy the evidence. The visa files are likely being tampered with and evidence removed and destroyed … It’s a bloody shame, but we the people remain stupefied!

I refuse to see another political scandal just go by unattended to, under-investigated and unresolved because the Commissioner of Police is powerless before the political directorate and has no testicular fortitude to give the order to investigate and declare the Immigration Department a crime scene … There should be a full lockdown now!

We’re all fatigued

I would want to imagine that every Belizean is fatigued of the corruption regardless of political party. Fatigued because voters still refuse to give a chance to the third parties. Fatigued because the third parties are not yet deemed as viable options with established machinery and thus not envisioned as competent to govern. However, sadly at this stage, a broom in a skirt can do a better job or a money in a circus could follow better commands from us, the electorate, who are tired of the s—t hitting the fan and splashing in our face!

God, please bless Belize and give us the wisdom to rid ourselves of the tyrants!

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