Yesterday we reported on the ongoing corruption that is stirring up in the Immigration Scandal where another Minister namely, Edmund Castro is being accused of facilitating over 200 Visas for Chinese Nationals at two thousand dollars each. If you do the Math, that’s 400 thousand dollars in a span of 5 months from October 2012 to March 2013.
And while his name is making the rounds in the media headlines, a telephone interview provided by our colleagues at 7News revealed that Castro categorically denied having taken any bribes or facilitated any transaction of visas. It’s a very disturbing accusation and a growing pain for the Prime Minister, Dean Barrow, who returned to Belize today from his somewhat personal and business trip to Los Angeles.
While the media flocked at the PGIA awaiting his arrival, in just a minute, the PM slipped away from the grips of us as he pulled a ‘fast one’. This footage shows the PM being whisked away from the back end of the Airport and for a brief second, stopped and greeted his crowd of supporters who were waiting for him at the entrance of the airport.
Now, this latest move took us all by surprise since it is quite uncommon for the PM to evade reporters as he is known to always acknowledge the media. But this time he probably ran out of explanations and refused to once again have to use what has become a very popular phrase “For God Sake Stop It”. The phrase was first used by the P.M on October 10th when he was asked if members of his Cabinet were involved in what has turned out to be a very lucrative Visa business. He responded and we quote “I have heard that there are ministers who are procuring visas for people. I have said pretty much every second cabinet, if you are doing so, I have no proof, for God sake stop it, stop it! That is what will cause the government to fall.” end of quote.
But back to today’s event. While the P.M played Houdini on the media, his colleague Mark King had arranged a warm greeting for him at the arrival lounge but he too was left hanging.
Hon. Mark King
“We don’t hang our people to dry "If they are true then they are true and so be it. They will have to battle that in court. If the allegations are not true then so be it. The lady will face court action along with PUP Channel 5 who has Ashcroft in their pocket. What more than that you all need to know? I don’t think it should be concern in terms of Mr. Penner or any Minister, doesn’t facilitate visa as far as I know it, in terms of he had given recommendation and signatures, anybody can recommend; a teacher, a Justice of the Peace and a Minister could recommend. However, that has to go through the process of the Immigration Department. This is unlike the Penner case where Penner signed on those. The Minister has clearly said that he gave a couple recommendations. I don't know if it will come to light that; 1) He collect any monies from these because no proof is there and 2) The lady is even real and legit and is not a PUP person set there to cause mischief."
"Is it customary for you to be at the airport to welcome the Prime Minister or is this just a sign of support in light of all the scandals that have taken place?"
Hon. Mark King
"This is my sign of support for my Prime Minister, for the rest of ministers, they speak for themselves. I am here for my Prime Minister and my party. Simple as that - I just came to welcome the man home. I believe that although a lot has happened I believe that our Prime Minister unlike the PUP Prime Minister and present leader, have a lot of balls to tell people the truth about what is happening in his government and his Cabinet. At the end of the day I believe that our government is the most transparent. The Prime Minister has said to you all as the media - PUP didn't told you all about this whole thing - we came out and told you all about it and if we have to go back to re-election the Prime Minister has said 'so be it.' I don't know what the entire hullabaloo about. At the end of the day the media have all questions to ask the Prime Minister and the Prime Minister have answered all. If there are more to come he will answer all. If there is an election to come, so be it."
Support he did, but the love was not reciprocated and like Mark King, we were left with our mouths agape. It is uncertain how the PM will try to regain the confidence of his crumbling Government but from what we saw, he seemed deep rooted in distress and concerned. We’ll have more on this story as it develops.
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