BELIZE CITY, Sat. June 10, 2017–Earlier this month, the UDP’s Belize Rural North area representative, Hon. Edmond Castro, was stripped of his personal and diplomatic visas by the US Embassy.
According to Castro, his visas were revoked simply on the grounds that he did not visit the embassy for renewal even though he had been contacted to do so.
John Briceño, leader of the PUP, in commenting on the matter, had maintained that Castro didn’t visit the US Embassy because it is considered US soil, and the UDP Cabinet Minister could be forced to answer questions he simply didn’t want to answer.
Since that noteworthy revocation, there has been widespread speculation, especially since the US Embassy had remained silent after the news hit the media. On Friday, however, career US diplomat and Chargé d’Affaires of the US Embassy, Adrienne Galanek, spoke to the media.
“The Department of State has broad authority under the Immigration and Nationalities Act to at any time revoke a visa if the Department of State deems someone inadmissible to the United States or otherwise ineligible for a visa,” she told the media.
When asked about the circumstances that would lead to the revocation of a person’s visa, she revealed, “That’s a determination that’s made by the Department of State under the authorities vested in Immigration and Nationalities Act, and I’d have to refer you to Section 221 of the Immigration and Nationalities Act.”
When asked if a refusal to renew one’s visa would be grounds for revocation, Galanek told the media, “”Basically, it’s up to you to come in to the embassy and respond; if you want to renew your visa, you come in and you have to go through an interview process and it’s the determination of the counselor officer at the time who makes the determination as in any applicant regarding eligibility for visa.”
However, she would not venture into the specific grounds for Castro’s visa revocation.
“I don’t want to get into different scenarios; basically, it’s under the authority vested in the Immigration and Nationalities Act section 221,” said Galanek.
While Galanek was available for a comment on Castro, the media also took the opportunity to get a comment from her on Defence Minister John Saldivar.
The US Embassy had previously issued a statement expressing its discontent that a vessel it had donated to the Coast Guard was being used to transport Minister Saldivar’s Bandits basketball team to San Pedro.
However, Galanek would not say much, except that, “Basically, we have been discussing the situation with the Government of Belize. They are aware of our concerns and we also have assurances that the situation won’t occur again.”