November 4, 2010

In response to allegations surrounding the issuance of Visas to Chinese nationals which has been aired recently on Channel 5, the Ministry of Defence and Immigration is making the following clarifications:
There have always been legitimate processes for the handling of visa applications.

As it relates to citizens of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), visa applications are regularly processed through the Belize Embassy, Havana, Cuba and British Overseas Foreign Missions in China who have been authorised by GOB.

In 2008 in coming to office, this government reviewed the processes inherited in order to improve transparency and reduce opportunities for improprieties, instituted a regimen where such applicants are interviewed by personnel at the mission they applied. A report of the interview and a recommendation for or against visa issuance is forwarded to the Immigration and Nationality Department who in collaboration with the Ministry of Defence and Immigration then grants approval for or denies the visa. Such correspondences are copied to the Immigration Office, Phillip Goldson International Airport, The Ministry of Defence and Immigration, the Head of the Special Branch Unit of the Police Department, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to encourage intra-ministerial information exchange and transparency. And, even after a visa is approved and issued, on arrival, the individual holding such is subjected to further queries relating to other entry requirements before being allowed into Belize.

The reports on Channel 5 that have displayed some stolen official correspondences showing legitimate visa approvals is an attempt to confuse the Belizean public between the legitimate process where persons apply, are screened, and either approved or denied, with the illegal incidences surrounding the three suspicious aircraft arrivals on September 17 & 18 and October 3, 2010. There was no such legitimate process for those. Drawing from the documentation on those flights, no interview reports or recommendations for or against visas for those individuals were issued and no approval or denial correspondences from the Immigration and Nationality Department were issued. As a matter of fact, the Police investigation has confirmed that the purported visa numbers recorded on the arrival forms were in fact locked in a vault at the Immigration and Nationality Department and had never been issued to any of Belize’s diplomatic missions.

The Minister of Defence and Immigration, Hon. Carlos Perdomo, had, on Wednesday, November 3, 2010, in order to clarify the misleading and mischievous report aired by Channel 5 sought an interview with them to which they agreed. To today’s date the Minister is still awaiting the arrival of Channel 5’s reporters as they failed to appear after giving reasons for being delayed.

The Ministry of Defence and Immigration notes that it was reliably informed since Tuesday, November 2, 2010, that an opposition political aspirant would be making a statement regarding the contents of the stolen official correspondences. Noteworthy is the fact that that person, Arthur Saldivar, is the lawyer representing some of the six Immigration Officers facing criminal charges.

The Ministry views Channel 5’s reports as being twisted and malicious and condemns the attempt to confuse the Belizean public in an attempt to gain political mileage