And while we had the opportunity, we asked Godwin Hulse, who is also the Minister of Immigration, about a memorandum which we received.
It details changes in visa requirements and is sent from the Acting Director of Immigration to port commanders, and immigration personnel.
It waives visa requirements for several countries which has raised some concerns. We asked Hulse about it today, here’s how he responded:
Hon. Godwin Hulse - Minister of Immigration
"We've waived the requirements of visas from Japan. We've waived from South Korea, we're waived from Colombia, we've waived from Brazil and also from
persons holding US permanent resident cards. The reason for that is very simple, we are pushing tourism. COPA wants to fly in from South America to
Belize. They cover Brazil, Colombia, Uruguay and Argentina. To bring that new tourists element to Belize you can't hang up people having to apply and
it's taking a long time, so we waived the visa requirements. We have about 50 countries that don't require visas to come to Belize, some are bilateral,
some are unilateral. If you found out it's late news because we did it a month ago."
"Sir the perception is always a country like Colombia, there's always that element of narco trafficking that the immigration department must be
especially vigilant for."
Hon. Godwin Hulse
"But immigration doesn't look after narco trafficking, that's for security service and for interpol. The European Union doesn't require any visa for
Colombia. Non of the South American countries and most of Central America and Caribbean don't require visa for Colombia. Our visa requirement for
Colombia and security check was an United States dictated issue. The fact of the matter as a sovereign country we decide who are going to waive visa
for or not. We cannot and will not air mark or determine that everybody coming from Colombia is a trafficker. Let's be real, the world has fought and
the US has put billion of dollars in trying to fight the drug chain, not succeeded at all. We don't want to victimise people who would be flying here
for tourism purposes because they are coming from Colombia, Belize should look after it's own interests."
As noted in the interview, the Statutory Instrument for these waivers was signed last month.