Headline — 08 October 2013 — by Kareem Clarke
“Fire!!!” at Immigration Department!

“There is a systematic burning of immigration documents, signed by former Minister of State Elvin Penner …hundreds upon hundreds.” – Arthur Saldivar

According to PUP Rural North standard bearer, Arthur Saldivar, who came to the Kremandala compound this evening with the “proof,” the Immigration Department is in the process of destroying incriminating evidence; to wit, files purportedly containing the data of a number of other Asians and others who either have received, or are in the process of, illegally receiving Belizean citizenship. All the documents, said Saldivar, approximately 150 of them, were signed by former Minister of State Elvin Penner, who was kicked out of Cabinet a little over two weeks ago by Prime Minister Dean Barrow.

According to Saldivar, he and his “associates” found out that the files were being burned, and managed to rescue some of them. The Immigration Department had announced that an “intense investigation” was being conducted in the department; it now seems that indeed an “intensive investigation” was being done, but not to find out what illegality had occurred. It apparently was to find dangerous files that had to be destroyed.

During the informal press conference, Saldivar told the members of the media that had assembled in the Kremandala compound that he had “about 150” of the applications, including one that he brought to the compound, that of Mr. “Bo-Jie Shan”.

As a result, Saldivar has called for the shutting down of the Immigration and Nationality Departments until a full and proper investigation is carried out.

Saldivar alleged that the departments are in the process of “purging” files with the signature of former Minister of State with responsibility for Immigration, Hon. Elvin Penner.

He said, “There is a deliberate destruction of files that were signed by former Minister Elvin Penner in his tenure. This is ongoing presently. In fact as recently as yesterday, a group of 4 young men, not associated with the Immigration Department, were actively burning hundreds upon hundreds of files. We, myself and my sources, were able to put our hands on 150 files, and we will be issuing these files in a timely manner until the Immigration Department, [including] the Nationality section [and the] Passport section close down effectively for a complete and comprehensive investigation of what’s taking place.”

Saldivar had in his possession a copy of an original document, a nationality certificate for a Chinese national by the name of Bo-Jie Shan. Mr. Shan is reputedly a resident of Las Flores, Belmopan, but his residence could not be found there, according to Saldivar. Shan’s nationality certificate was issued on May 22, 2013, and signed by then Minister of State, Elvin Penner.

Saldivar then pointed out that the most “disturbing thing” about the document is that the receipt for application for nationality was not received until July 10, 2013. So, in essence, he said, “We have a situation whereby the nationality certificate was prepared long before the application was even made, which is prima-facie evidence of wrongdoing.”

He then jokingly asked, “How is it that somebody could be Nostradamus to know that this man would come in, or that that man would be coming to apply, before he actually does?”

Saldivar said that this means that every single Belizean passport is “circumspect,” and every Belizean traveling would be subjected to the indignity of having their passport screened in international airports due to the infractions taking place at the Immigration Department. Saldivar said that it is a blatant cover-up of what happened at the Immigration Department while Penner had authority there.

He said, “This is ongoing now, although Penner has no authority there since he was fired from Cabinet, so he does not have the authority to have anyone remove these files. Yet these files are outside in private hands at an undisclosed location. First of all, in order to get a nationality certificate, you need to have a police record, medical forms, etc., and it isn’t until you are vetted in an interview that the nationality certificate is prepared, but in this instance, the nationality certificate was prepared long before the application was even received.

So it basically begs the question: Why would someone prepare the nationality documents without the application coming in? What is the basis for that? Is there a new program that we don’t know about? Is there something that the government isn’t telling us? Because obviously, there was something to hide from the time these documents were being burnt.”

He went on to mention that there are persons in the past who have been associated with such organizations as Hezbollah, who have gained Belizean passports under this present administration, and said that we would certainly not want to find out that there are more such persons being afforded the opportunity and the privilege to travel around the world as Belizeans.

If the Immigration and Nationality Department refuses to comply with his request, Saldivar said that he will automatically reveal the 150 files, one on each day, until they are forced to “shut down.”

Saldivar stated that today he faxed a copy of the certificate he had in his possession to the Commissioner of Police.

He said that the nationality certificates that he and his associates have acquired are mostly for people from Asia and the Middle East. However, he claims that there are other astonishing nationality documents in his custody, including one for a Guatemalan, the former Governor of Peten, Ruben Alvarez, whom, according to Saldivar, is presently under investigation in Guatemala for money laundering.

So far, Saldivar has been reluctant to reveal his sources, except to say that fresh accusations will be forthcoming in the coming weeks.

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