For months, rumors have been circulating that a member of the Barrow Cabinet would be stripped of his US Visa for involvement with shady immigration dealings. Well, tonight, we can confirm that Minister of Transport and NEMO Edmond Castro has been stripped of his US Visa. When the report first emerged, we called Castro to ask him about it, but he told us that he could not comment - and then hung up the phone on our reporter.
Well, 90 minutes later, a statement was issued form his office. It says, quote, "Castro has been given notification by the United States Embassy that his Diplomatic and Tourist visas have been revoked, and that no specific reason was stated for the revocation." end quote.
The statement adds that Castro formerly held a US "green" card, which he gave up in 2009. At that time he got both tourist and diplomatic visas from the US Embassy. Still, Castro's statement says he, quote, "has not travelled to the United States for the past three years and...had no interest to do so anytime soon, which is why he recently declined an invitation by the US Embassy to go in to discuss the question of renewing his visas."
The statement adds, quote, "The notice of visa revocation ends with a similar invitation for Hon Castro to '...reappear before a U.S. consular officer to establish (his) eligibility for a visa...' Castro wishes to state that he once again declines the offer to make such an appearance because he still has no intentions of travelling the United States any time soon." end quote.
For context we note that in May 2015, Castro was exposed in a Supreme Court Trial when he sued Alvarine Burgess for defamation. In court she alleged that Castro knowingly took a bribe of $2,000 for each visa applicant she asked him to recommend to the Immigration Department. He conceded that he signed for at least 21 visa applicants that he did not know, but staunchly denied that he took money for it. Burgess will testify before the Senate Inquiry on Immigration tomorrow.
Notably, Castro PUP predecessor in Belize Rural North, Maxwell Samuels had his US Visa revoked when he was embroiled in his own immigration scandal in the early two thousand's.