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    Wednesday, 17 July 2019 02:46
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    Friday, 19 July 2019 02:20
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The news that UDP Minister Edmond Castro’s U.S. tourist and diplomatic visas were revoked by the United States Embassy has resulted in political embarrassment for the Barrow Administration. Yesterday Opposition Leader Hon. John Briceno called on Prime Minister Dean Barrow to get rid of Castro, but today when Barrow addressed the matter, he went to bat once again for his embattled Cabinet colleague.

Screen_Shot_2017-06-01_at_7.57.15_PMRt. Honourable Dean Barrow - Prime Minister of Belize

“I am to some degree perplexed because I only know what I’ve heard from minister Castro and what I’ve seen in a letter that he shared with me from the US Embassy, meaning that there is no indication of any reason for the revocation of the VISAS  except that the minister declined to come in, when invited to do so, to discuss the whole issue of renewal of the VISAS since those VISAS were about to expire, as the minister has said and that is clear from the letter that or what he said is confirmed by the letter, he refuse to go because he is saying he is not interested in other words has the VISAS not been revoked, had they been allowed to expire in the next couple of months he would not have sought any renewal, in that context while speculation will no doubt run riot there is nothing at all to go on that can sustain any allegation, any contention, that the revocation was for impropriety certainly the US authorities have never ever approached me with any kind of complaint or expression of concern about the minister, I know that for example there are police officers who’ve had their VISAS lifted and I understand second hand that they are always told why it is that their VISAS are being pulled in these particular circumstances where all there is, is the fact of the minister not being interested in a renewal and not been prepared to go in to discuss the issue of the VISAS, I am afraid all I can do is to say that it is then a personal matter for the minister.”

Prime Minister Barrow also fended off the very serious allegations repeated during yesterday’s Senate Select Committee hearing witness Alvarine Burgess that the U. S. Embassy has a recording of Castro engaged in visa hustling. Barrow claimed that if that were true, he would have already been briefed by the Embassy. He said he does not believe Castro’s visa was revoked as a result of wrong doing.

Rt. Honourable Dean Barrow - Prime Minister of Belize

“I don’t believe that quite frankly because if that were so it is my feeling that the US embassy would have spoken to me, look, certainly a couple years ago there was an indication of some disquiet on the part of the US authorities concerning an official in the Immigration Department, I say this merely to make the point that it is not as though the US will keep silent about the conduct of Belize government officials regardless of how egregious that conduct might be, in those circumstances they’re never having come to me about any recording or about any other activity, report, suggestion regarding minister Castro means that I am left with no choice but to conclude that what happened in terms of the VISA revocation took place for circumstances or for reasons that have nothing to do with impropriety.”

Yesterday Opposition Leader John Briceno recalled that in the PUP days such a serious action taken by the U. S. Government against a Minister would result in his firing. Briceno recalled the case of Max Samuels who was canned by former Prime Minister Said Musa in 2003 after his visa was cancelled. But as has become the style of PM Barrow with his Ministers, he said Castro’s case is not the same and so he isn’t contemplating such action.

Rt. Honourable Dean Barrow - Prime Minister of Belize

“I don’t know whether in the case of Maxwell Samuels a letter was written to him, I don’t know what the circumstances were, and in that kind of a context you can see how the speculation would have been legitimate, am making the point that there will be speculation even now but there is much more to go on in terms of the correspondence with Castro in terms of the invitation that was extended to him twice to come in and discuss the VISAS and his refusal on the basis that he is not interested it is clear that the man seriously, honestly is not interested as he said, he gave up his green card, he is not travelling to the United States for the last three years and has no desire to do so ever again.”

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