“If there is one thing that can and would bring down this government, it is hustling in Immigration. I have heard that ministers are procuring visas for people. I’ve said pretty much in every second Cabinet, if you [the Ministers] are doing so (I have no proof), for God sakes stop it! Stop it! That is what would cause the government to fall.” Dean Barrow, to his Cabinet. (October 2013)
Since then up to now, the Belizean public has been bombarded by the PetroCaribe 2015 elections and a plethora of corruption-based scandals that in the words of our Party Leader, the Hon. John Briceño, have Belizeans “weary from worry—about their personal safety; worry, about their economic security; worry, about poverty and deprivation; worry, about an uncertain future and more so worried about the kind of nation we are building for our children. (Belmopan, September 21, 2019)
The National Trade Union Congress of Belize (NTUCB)—the umbrella organization of ALL UNIONS in BELIZE—has formally written the Government of Belize to express disappointment that the 1st draft of the Senate Special Select Committee report on the Immigration scandal has still not been released. The Special committee was put together in September of 2016 with the hearing commencing the following December. That October the BNTU lead a historic 11-day strike to ensure that the hearing does occur along with a laundry list of governance issues the UDP government was forced to deal with.
The long-drawn Senate hearings that had the UDP on their collective toes were done to investigate the findings of Auditor General Dorothy Bradley’s Special Audit into the Passport, Visa and Nationality Department for 2011-2013. Without a doubt, TWO damning revelations were these:
- A list of minister recommendations from United Democratic Party (UDP) officials, including Minister Elvin Penner, Minister Manuel Heredia Jr., Minister Edmond Castro, Minister John Saldivar, Minister Erwin Contreras, were brought up in the Senate hearing.
- Another stinging allegation points to a government elected fraudulently at the 2012 Double Elections. At the root of this was the super expedited nationalization of persons who were then shovelled into the voters list. Viola! UDP squeaked an electoral win.
In October 2016, the BNTU were out to get their pound of flesh. They demanded Hulse’s head, that Saldivar be investigate by international investigators, UNCAC signing, salary adjustments, and that the Senate does carry out the Immigration hearings among other national concerns. The UDP seemed to flinch and a timeline was agreed upon for the demands to be met. If we fast forward to today on these concerns, it is easy to say that the UDP was dishonest at the bargaining table. They signed to get the unions off their back but have not shown indications that they meant to follow through. Today, John Saldivar have been returned as Minister of National Security and has reigned over a period of the worst of criminal activity going unpunished. UNCAC is still an unknown acronym to the Belizean people. And, there is still no sign of any immigration report documenting the hearings.
The Senate Special Select Committee was formed under much duress as the UDP didn’t want anything to do with an impartial committee. They circumvented anything to make sure that Aldo Salazar was chair for the sake of being UDP and not for impartiality. For 12 months the hearings went on and the Belizean public was privy to the arrogance of the United Democratic Party ministers and ex-ministers who refused to give the hearings any urgency nor respect. Under oath meant very little. Castro, Heredia et al scoffed at the questions. How dare the Special Select Committee question them?
But Also Salazar, the chair of the committee, was compromised. How? Unbeknownst to Belizean public was that Belize was the sanctuary for the LARGEST INTERNATIONAL REAL ESTATE SCAM in UNITED STATES history. This conundrum of global proportions was given life in 2003 in a well-documented SRWR corporation that had Williams of Barrow and Williams at the legal secretarial level breathing life into the farce. Of course, the prospect of heavy fees blinded any ability to underscore the fraud. Eventually, one of the said law firm partners became the Prime Minister of Belize. During this time, with any minimal Internet search of Pukke would reveal AmeriDebt and a GIGANTIC RED Flags that this was one fraudulent client to reject.
But no, under the UDP government Sanctuary Bay flourished. It became quite a beautiful place. Beltraide lead by Mike Singh even recommended tax exemptions to the tune of 157 Million Belize Dollars and this was countenanced at the Cabinet level. The PM in June 2019 attempted to shroud this by saying that the help was for EcoFutures not Sanctuary Bay. All this was a part of the scam. The fraudsters formed multiple companies to evade. But the fine print was clear. In the Cabinet document it said Ecofutures was located in Sanctuary Bay.
During the time of the Senate Select Hearings in question, Aldo Salazar was full of “exigencies” that most likely dealt with Sanctuary Bay Enterprises as he had to be shuffling and dealing out property foreclosures. His personal and business affairs have been touted by him as the main reason the Immigration report has not been submitted.
This one is easy. If his personal and other business affairs are in conflict with the time he ought to provide to Senate duties then he should resign. Give it up to somebody who has the people at heart. The UDP has no time for Belize; they have countless more important exigencies.
The PUP will complete the Immigration scandal report.