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UDP Minister Stripped Of US Visa

Posted By: Marty

UDP Minister Stripped Of US Visa - 05/31/17 12:04 PM

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quote, "Castro has been given notification by the United States Embassy that his Diplomatic and Tourist visas have been revoked, and that no specific reason was stated for the revocation."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.

Channel 7

Posted By: Marty

Re: UDP Minister Stripped Of US Visa - 06/01/17 11:20 AM

Castro Says Visa Cancellation No Big Deal

Yesterday evening, the news went out like a shockwave from Belmopan that Minister Edmond Castro's US Visas had been revoked - that means both his diplomatic and visitor's Visas.  Cancelling a diplomatic visa is not a thing lightly done, and it can be interpreted as the US State Department making an accusatory statement on the immigration dealings of UDP Ministers who signed dozens of visa recommendations for persons - mostly Asians - likely being trafficked through Belize.  

But when we spoke to Castro today, he completely glossed it over - explaining that his visas and his passport were about to expire:

Hon. Edmund Castro - Minister of State for Public Works and Transport
"I don't know if it's the protocol, my diplomatic visa would be expired in I think 61 or 62 days. The passport will be expired August 2nd as well so I don't know if it's their protocol when to ask ministers or people with diplomatic passports to come in and to discuss whether they want to renew or not I have no interest in renewing so I declined that I have no interest in renewing any visa to go there so I did not go in and they do what they wanted to do."

Reporter
"But as a government official sir is it of concern to you that here is a case where you as the sitting minister has gotten your visa cancelled as of course your CEO was also turned back."

Hon. Edmund Castro
"Sir I have 62 days left on that passport, I have not been using that visa or that passport for the past 3 plus years. What I can tell you is not many Belizeans would have a green card and turn it in. I had a green card and after I got elected in 2008 it wasn't working for me, I went to them I called them and I went in and I turned in the green card. I never asked for a visa they offered and stamped a visa in my passport, I never asked for one. I used it for like 2 years and I never used it again. One of the other visa that they put in my passport I never did use for 5 years or 8 years, 9 years whatever it is, I never did use it. So I have no desire or no need for such so then I don't believe there was any intent or interest for me to go in and sit down and ask for such renewal if that's the case."

Reporter
"Respectfully sir my question remains the same, the situation where you as the minister has gotten your visa shelved and your CEO also. In terms of your official business for government you would not be allowed to travel outside of the country."

Hon. Edmund Castro
"No sir! Let me tell you this, da no only the United States you go to do business for your government. If that was the case maybe I could have kept my residency card, I turned that in, I had no interest in going there so if that's what they wanted to discuss there was no need to discuss that because I have no interest. I got nothing to do with CEO and you want the CEO any questions about her stuff I have no interest, I have not been travelling to that particular country for over 3 years and the records can show for that."

Channel 7

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