Hon. Manuel Heredia and Hon Rene Montero at the Senate Print E-mail
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Thursday, 13 July 2017 00:00

UDP Ministers Rene Montero and Manuel Heredia Jr. were the witnesses called before the Senate Select Committee to answer questions in the latest Senate Hearing on Immigration.

Once again, the Senators were unable to conclusively determine that either of these Ministers acted in any way other than respectable while doing their jobs as area representatives. The PUP senators badgered both politicians in lengthy discussions, in which the same questions were asked over and over, and both Montero and Heredia were patient in the repetition of their very same answers.

The first topic that the Senate brought up with Heredia was the Auditor General’s complaint in her reports on Immigration that he was ferrying visas in questionable manner that lacked accountability, and was a security risks. Having answered this question to the press already, Heredia repeated once again that from 1994, when he was the Mayor of San Pedro Town, the PUP Government of the day asked him to start transporting immigration documents from the island to Belmopan, since he travelled weekly to the mainland to conduct business on behalf of his constituents. Those envelopes were sealed, and addressed to the Ranking Officers of the Immigration Department in Belmopan and San Pedro respectively. All he simply did was to take the documents back and forth, significantly reducing the delay that voters and supporters of his experienced while trying to get their immigration documents processed.

That was discontinued about 4 or 5 years ago, and the community of San Pedro has had to suffer because they must wait until the Department is able to send the documents out of the island.

They asked him about the Auditor General’s insistence that he kept “intervening” on behalf of the Lebanese nationals trying to get Belizean nationality. He freely acknowledged that he helped a number of these applicants, but his assistance was ended right at the point when he would get details from the applicants, and he would go inquiring at the Immigration Department why the long delay in processing their applicants. He insisted, even though he was badgered that he did otherwise, that he never asked for application files to be fast tracked. Neither did he ask immigration officers to act illegally, or improperly and grant nationality to persons who didn’t qualify under Belizean laws. He also made it clear that he helped his constituents all over the government service, and he wasn’t showing favoritism toward the Lebanese Belizean residents of San Pedro who share the surname “Harmouche” or “Harmouch”.

Rene Montero was called in the afternoon session, and the Senators questioned him on a letter which he sent in January 2012. He was asked if this letter was a directive being sent to the Former Immigration Director to approve nationality for 7 applicants. He said that he was asking for assistance from the then Director of Immigration to assist with the nationalities of 7 applicants who had been waiting to find out if they were approved or not.

Like the other UDP Area representatives mentioned in this report, Montero was unfairly judged, without concrete evidence, for trying to get his constituents their immigration documents approved in a timely basis.

Last Updated on Thursday, 13 July 2017 12:29