A few months ago prominent Orange Walk businessman Rene Cuello decided to take the Attorney General and Director of Immigration Services to court as he believed that his constitutional and human rights had been violated on more than one occasion as he travelled to the Commercial Free Zone located in Belizean territory.
Cuello has his mind set that the system in place at Belize’s borders where Belizeans are requested by law to stamp their passport going out and coming into the country is unconstitutional.
That case is set to be heard at the Belize Supreme Court on February 22nd. Cuello was a guest this morning on the Despierta Belice Show where he told host Carmelita Perez, that the main objective for pursuing the case is to obtain freedom of movement for all Belizeans in our own territory.
Rene Cuello - Businessman
“You just have to go to the border at Chetumal and see how the Mexicans pass their border, their immigration that is what we want a freedom of movement that is in our constitution, that is our constitutional right and it is a human right at the same time, why are they doing these things to us? We should just drive up to the border and do our business and come back if they know you ok but if they don’t know you then let me see your ID, you saw the line that was there for the 19th of November is a direct consequence of that law, two three miles two hours you know how much money is being wasted there with vehicles idling for two hours we are losing money then you have people at the border in excess; you have four to five persons at the exit checkpoint for what; you have two border management, tow immigration and sometimes a police just to show you to go in and check or just to stop you.”
On a daily basis hundreds of Mexican nationals travel to the Corozal Commercial Free Zone and are not required providing travel documents to neither Mexican nor Belizean authorities stationed at the respective borders. This also prompted both Cuello and Giovanni De La Fuente to fight for equality.
Giovanni de la Fuente - Belizean Citizen
“On a daily basis one can see 200 or 300 Mexicans in the country of Belize in this area known as the Free Zone and the Casino now they leave their country and nobody interfere with no Mexican authority interfere with them when they leave their country, when they enter Belize no Belizean authority interfere with them either, we have taxi personnel, we have these little buses, we have people walking, motorcycles, bicycles two three hundred Mexicans in Belize every morning they don’t check in with any Belizean immigration now as a Belizean when I want to go to the same area my duty according to the immigration officer at this exit point is although I am not exiting Belize I need to produce a travel document, they will review the travel document which is in my case usually a passport but some people have like Mr. Cuello a border pass, I don’t have a border pass so if you want to go to this area you need to produce a travel document to the immigration officer he/she will review it and if he/she agrees you will receive a stamp authorizing you that you can now depart Belize, I am not departing Belize, so this is the reason that I have become involved in this matter and I see it as something ridiculous that as Belizeans we continue to be forced to produce travel documents to go into a normal area in Belize.”
In the event that the ruling is not in Cuello’s favour, De La Fuente hopes that other Belizeans who are faced with the same situation will assert their independence by recording the incident so that it can also be utilized as evidence in court.
Giovanni de la Fuente - Belizean Citizen
“If you encounter any challenges or any obstacles or difficulties with the immigration department try get some footage, video them take snaps because who knows somebody else might have to take this same thing to court if we lose, the reason why Mr. Rene Cuello is listed as the person taking these people to court is because we have footage of him being harassed by the immigration department and so you can’t go to court and say the immigration officer is harassing me make I see oh I never took picture well alright good it is done so when you are going to Chetumal or the Free Zone or go fishing to the Rio Hondo if the immigration authorities cause you difficulty or obstructing your movement video them and take pictures of them this is a free country, I believe there are restrictions at taking pictures inside the immigration building but nowadays it look like they are outside again remember immigration department have some of the most wonderful people and so give all the respect due and February the 22nd we’ll see what happens.”
As mentioned earlier, the court hearing is expected to be heard next month on the 22nd of February 2017.