The ground-shaking testimony given yesterday to the Senate Select Committee by former Finance Officer Teresita Castellanos has undoubtedly gotten the attention of the entire country as Belizeans heard, for the first time, a former senior officer confess the extent of corruption and cover-up that has existed at the Immigration Department.
Castellanos confirmed that there is an entrenched culture of corruption at the Immigration Department that continues up to today. She also pointed out that some immigration officers act with impunity and then cover up for each other. According to Castellanos, during her term she and the former Director Maria Marin made various attempts to implement measures but it never got the attention it deserved from higher up.
Aldo Salazar – Chairman Special Senate Select Committee
“Your view that this culture is recent or you feel that this culture has persisted over many years?”
Teresita Castellanos – Former Finance Officer
“Sir, I have been in the department Public Service for thirty years, in 2011 it was the first time I went to the Immigration Department but as a Public Officer outside of the department, I used to hear things but nothing compared when I was there I witnessed things myself; I could not go to the ministry of the Public Service, it’s like we blocked, we cannot go to the media, we cannot talk and all of that frustration it just consume us inside, the Director Maria Marin wanted to make a difference at the department and it was blocked many times, even the policies that she spent hours preparing reached the ministry but that was about it.”