General — 08 July 2014 — by Rowland A. Parks

The Elvin Penner immigration scandal that cost the United Democratic Party government of Prime Minister Dean Barrow a huge chunk of credibility has now spilled over into the Opposition People’s United Party, stripping the PUP of the high-ranking Cal brothers, Martin and Moises.

When the Penner immigration scandal first broke in September 2013, Prime Minister Barrow told his Cabinet that hustling at the Immigration Department could make his government fall.

Despite removing Hon. Elvin Penner, who was the Minister of State in the Ministry of Immigration, from his post for the scandal that implicated him, the Prime Minister has resolutely refused to admit that Penner had committed a criminal offense.

Last week, the leadership of the PUP moved to try to retain their moral “high ground,” since they had been highly critical of the way PM Barrow has protected Penner from criminal charges.

The Opposition’s move came in the form of the axing of a municipal elections aspirant, Martin Cal, from one of its Belmopan PUP slates. If Cal had remained on the slate, he would have been victorious this past Sunday, when the slate of candidates from which he was removed, won the convention to decide who will contest for the PUP in next year’s municipal elections.

The PUP Western Caucus issued a brief press release today, in which it said that there was a meeting of its executive in San Ignacio, where “The Executive has accepted the resignation of Mr. Moises Cal from the post of Chairman of the Western Caucus. Mr. Rafael Guerra, Jr., has been approved as the Interim Chairman of the Western Caucus Executive.”

Moises Cal’s resignation from the chairmanship of the Western Caucus comes after the party axed his brother, Martin. Moises Cal was removed as the PUP’s Belmopan standard-bearer back in 2007 when reports surfaced that the Panamanian government was investigating him for entering the country with $1 million in cash inside a suitcase.

For his part, Martin Cal was removed as PUP councilor candidate after his name appeared in the Auditor General’s preliminary report on the Immigration Department, which stated that he and another person, whose name has not been made public, signed recommendations for foreign nationals to obtain Belize nationality certificates to which they were not entitled under law.

In fact, the Auditor General’s preliminary report said that Cal committed a prosecutable offense when he signed four recommendations for foreign nationals who had not set foot on Belizean soil.

It is not known if the Police Department has interviewed Cal, based upon the item in the Auditor General’s report, or if the Director of Public Prosecutions will express any interest in the overall suggestions of “prosecutable offense” in the report.

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