Statement by Honourable Edmond Castro Print E-mail
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Friday, 01 November 2013 00:00

Statement by Honourable Edmond CastroBelmopan. October 28th, 2013

The Hon. Edmond Castro, Minister of State in the Ministry of Works and Transport, utterly rejects and condemns the viciously false and malicious story concocted about him by Channel 5 and its agent, and aired three consecutive nights last week. That story alleges that Hon. Castro collected four hundred thousand dollars as payment for having procured the issuance of two hundred Belize visas at the behest of a woman that is the source and co-fabricator of the Channel 5 story.

Hon. Castro makes clear that the allegation is a lie. He was never engaged in any visa ring, and never collected a penny from the woman now turned self-proclaimed whistleblower.

Some time ago the woman, one Alverine Burgess, did visit Hon. Castro at his office to seek his assistance. The woman asked Hon. Castro to write a letter recommending consideration of five visa applications that she was going to lodge with the Department of Immigration. Members of the public, as is well known, ask ministers to write letters of recommendation all the time in connection with various matters; because Hon. Castro knew Mrs. Burgess and her husband, he wrote a generic letter to the Department asking for consideration for the five visa applications.

That was the one and only time Hon. Castro wrote such a letter for Mrs. Burgess. Minister Castro points out that he has no authority and is unable to procure visas for anyone. The recommendation that he wrote for Alverine Burgess on the one occasion, was consistent with his role as a politician/public servant. As in all such cases, it was thereafter left to the Director of Immigration to decide whether or not the applications were in order and visas ought to be granted. The Minister is upset and angry that Alverine Burgess, to whom he tried to show courtesy and helpfulness as a citizen of Belize, should now turn around and lie so shamelessly on him.

In denouncing Channel 5 and Alverine Burgess, Hon. Castro points out that they have failed to produce a shred of evidence as to any wrongdoing or acceptance of money on his part. Yet the station not only locally aired Burgess' false story that so maligned the Minister, but did so internationally as well via regional affiliates. It is reprehensible behaviour, but it is not surprising on the part of an entity that has proven over and over that it is interested only in character assassination for partisan political purposes, and not in any sort of fair, accurate or responsible journalism.
Hon. Castro has retained legal services in launching a suit to demand a retraction, apology and damages from both Burgess and Channel 5.