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The hearings of the Senate Select Committee resumed today with a third, consecutive full day of interrogation of the former Assistant to the Officer in Charge in the Nationality Section, Ady Pacheco. While we have the highlights of her testimony, the day didn’t escape some controversy because apparently a second UDP Minister was supposed to have testified in her place.


Minister of Human Development, Anthony “Boots” Martinez, showed up at the National Assembly building this morning reportedly at the invitation of the Committee. But apparently there was some miscommunication as Martinez was told upon presenting himself that it wasn’t his turn just yet. The Minister then called the media together afterwards to complain and in a disappointed and slightly angry state, he called the Committee a circus and accused it of wasting his time.


Screen_Shot_2017-06-28_at_8.02.41_PMAnthony “Boots” Martinez, Minister of Human Development


“Well, on my entry over here today and well prepared to go I was informed that the committee is not ready for me yet, I have some fundamental difficulty, I think this Senate Inquiry to me begin and becomes a kind of circus you know, I don’t know!!.”


Reporter


“Did they give you any explanation as to why having given you this summons to be that they cancelled?”


Anthony “Boots” Martinez, Minister of Human Development


“I have no explanation at all I mean taking me out of my busy schedule; today is my constituency and so and they summoned me and I think that if you want to in my humble opinion, the meat of the matters and I think that readily anticipated was to ministers to be called and testify.”


Reporter


“So you’ll be informed of another date when you should reappear?”


Anthony “Boots” Martinez, Minister of Human Development


“I have never been informed of another date and they don’t say that they are ready for me yet I don’t know when they are ready for me.”


Reporter


“So I get the sense that you are treating this particular issue with a sense of urgency since your character has been called into question in these hearings?”


Anthony “Boots” Martinez, Minister of Human Development


“Well, I don’t worry about the character called in to question my character called into question almost on a daily basis that is not an issue to me the issue is what is before the Senate and so I think I’m not here, the Senate called me to question my character, I think that the summons say testify in regards to what happened in regards to the Immigration thing.”


Minister Boots also questioned the motive behind him being called to testify. While his name appears in the Auditor General’s report for writing a recommendation letter for a Chinese visa applicant, he was more prominently mentioned in the May 31 hearing in which testimony was given by whistleblower Alvarine Burgess, who alleged that she had facilitated visa applications for Chinese nationals for at least three Ministers, and Boots was named as one of them. Now the Minister argues that if that’s the reason he was called by the Committee to testify, they are operating outside of their mandate.


Anthony “Boots” Martinez, Minister of Human Development


“This Senate Select Committee is required to look on what transpired in the report not outside of the report so how now if you are going to talk about what transpired between the period 2011to 2013 and what lies n the report that is the terms of reference of the Senate Select Committee, of course, I have already put forward my opinion of what I think about Mrs. Alvarine Burges in the public what I think of her, I have already said what I believe in my opinion, I’m not here and people are not here to give opinions people are here to testify on a report that is on the table, simple and easy so, so to say that I think that I give an interview in regards to what I believe is Mrs. Alvarine Burgess motives that’s another case but that’s not for the Senate Select Committee that’s just an opinion of mine and in my humble opinion the priority should be people that is named in the report to come before the Senate Select Committee, here you are now as a minister of government under Section (61) A(H) I think, they are summoned to come before of which it is said that the Senate Select committee has a right but when I reach here now it’s like I am not ready for you yet, and no in my humble opinion, no terms of reference allowed Mrs. Alvarine Burges to testify before this Senate Select Committee, no terms of reference to start with, no public officer, no former immigration officer or immigration officer said nothing in regards to Mrs. Alvarine Burges, she was never mentioned in the report so how comes now she has priority as a person not mentioned in any report to be summoned before a report I find it to be a kind of circus.”


But what about the Boots involvement at Immigration? In the testimonies by senior Immigration Officers, they have complained about the interventions by political individuals like Ministers and last week we heard Ady Pacheco explain why she felt intimated by it. But Boots doesn’t believe his involvement was harmful. He said he has a political duty to his constituents.


Reporter


“Have you ever written a letter requesting for a VISA application be processed?”


Anthony “Boots” Martinez, Minister of Human Development


“A VISA application be processed, my job as a politician is on a daily basis, I made recommendations all across the board even as a minister I recommend people with passport, people for lands, for education for everything, I do a lot of things in my career so there is no say…”


Reporter


“Specifically Asian national to facilitate VISA approvals for them…”


Anthony “Boots” Martinez, Minister of Human Development


“Facilitate, how could I facilitate… listen to me there is a couple things happened. There is a formula of how a person gets VISA I don’t have a difficulty with a whatsoever recommendation is it’s just a suggestion you know…”


Reporter


“That carries weight according to the testimony of some of the immigration officers who come here.”


Anthony “Boots” Martinez, Minister of Human Development


“Listen to me, you look up the meaning of recommendation and it might carry weight within the regulation, it might carry weight within the regulation just yesterday I made a recommendation to Public Service in regards to a constituency of mine who was seeking a job and that was recommendation was turn down and why because the person neve meet the qualification, he never meet the qualification required by Public Service to get the job so recommendation is just a suggestion that is no guaranteed you know.”


Reporter


“But that is the ideal situation; it has been revealed that these recommendations hold weight they oblige the immigration officers to act in a certain way?”


Anthony “Boots” Martinez, Minister of Human Development


“But I don’t know that is not the policy and that is not the law so whatsoever is the policy and the law must remain the person must show where he got prove that he could stay, he need bank statement all of that is the requirement it is not just on a recommendation.”


Reporter


“Sir it never crosses your mind that the intervention you made intimidate the public officers?”


Anthony “Boots” Martinez, Minister of Human Development


“Intimidate public officers, no man intervention, no man…”


Reporter


“That was in regard to Ms. Pacheco who said that the involvement of ministers and political persons intimidated her in her work?”


Anthony “Boots” Martinez, Minister of Human Development

 

“How you mean intimidated what…what…”


Reporter

“That if she did not approved or make that recommendation of a minister work that then she could be transferred?”


Anthony “Boots” Martinez, Minister of Human Development


“But how could she make a recommendation of a minister work when you are governing by certain guidelines.”


Reporter


“It’s also been stated that officers of the immigration department felt intimidated when ministers of high rank came in to the department and make their recommendations so they had to be and they did?”


Anthony “Boots” Martinez, Minister of Human Development


“Let me say this to you, I’ve never been to the immigration department for the last five years with the exception of two months ago when I went to renew my daughter’s passport, me personally haven’t been to the Immigration Department at all, I just saw a lot of the officers here and I didn’t know Ms. Addy Pacheco, Mr. Bol, Mr. Reynolds I don’t know them at all because I don’t go over there. I don’t remember that but I think that in my time as even being in opposition I have made several recommendations for nationals of different country, I have made some several recommendations.”


Reporter


“And why would you have made those recommendations is it the explanation that’s been given that is before on behalf of constituents?”


Anthony “Boots” Martinez, Minister of Human Development


“Its people that I know, some of them are constituents and some of them are people that I know.”


Reporter


“So about how many would you say since we speak about numbers since this hearing?”


Anthony “Boots” Martinez, Minister of Human Development


“I would say in my political career as a member of the national assembly from 2003 I would honestly say about fifteen recommendations.”


Reporter


“As part of your responsibility when doing these assistances for your constituents or other people did you do any vetting to ensure that the information they give you is…?”


Anthony “Boots” Martinez, Minister of Human Development


“I don’t need to do no vetting all I need to do is to say, you are Mr. Vellos you know me, Mr. Vellos I am interested with my sister to come to Belize to come visit, in one case I remember I gave a recommendation for some Chinese New Year’s thing and I say well, I have no difficulty I know you and you say it is your sister providing that everything is in order at Immigration and I gave the recommendation and I see no problem with that.”


We could not get confirmation from the Committee today, but Minister Boots is expected to still appear before the Senate hearing next Wednesday. We shall see if he remains as eager as he was today.

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