P.U.P. Politicians Say Government Was Trying to Silence Discussion of Immigration Reports; Prime Minister Avoids Media Comment After House Exit
Posted: Saturday, August 27, 2016. 1:44 p.m. CST.
By Aaron Humes: Friday’s historic – for the wrong reasons – events concluded with a charged media interview with dismissed Cayo South representative Julius Espat and his party leader, John Briceno.
Moments later, flanked by a massive security detail, PM Barrow would exit the building. The shouting and jeering from onlookers continued as he made his way downhill towards his vehicle. The press tried ardently to get a word from him concerning the pandemonium in yesterday’s historic House Meeting but he would not oblige.
As for Briceño and Espat, they vehemently argued that the reason for the turmoil was simply because they chose to address the issue of the Auditor General’s report which names several government ministers, officials and highly connected party members. The report also names PM Barrow, among those who made recommendations on the nationality applications of at least one foreigner who did not meet the requirements.
According to Espat, Speaker Michael Peyrefitte called him personally on Thursday to warn him against any discussion of the report and specifically the Prime Minister’s name therein.
He denied insulting Peyrefitte, stating that as a former candidate and supporter of the party, he is hardly neutral in disposition.
Told that he seemed hypocritical in asking for rules to be followed elsewhere but refusing to follow them himself, Espat hit back archly: “Well if the rules have to be broken in Belize so that we could get back our country, I want my country back. I am ready and willing to go to jail; that is what I told the police officers. …I di laugh right now, but it is not a laughing matter. I am feeling what the poor, oppressed people of this country feel every day—the south side, Cayo south, Toledo. They can’t get their information when the goddamn thief di give away passport to people left and right. Fifty-five thousand passport; that is sixteen percent of our population have illegal or fraudulent passport. Sixteen percent of three hundred and fifty thousand people have illegal or fraudulent passport and they noh want we talk about it in there.”
Briceno claimed that events were “planned” to divert attention from the report.
The case of Peter Dahlstrom, brother-in-law of the Prime Minister and husband to Special Envoy Kim Simplis-Barrow’s sister, was mentioned in the report because, as explained by Espat, Dean Oliver Barrow and Kim Simplis Barrow recommended a person for nationality that could not and doesn’t have the requirement to pass nationality.
The Opposition Leader said he “wanted to vomit” at what he saw in the report and announced that the party’s senators will call for a senate investigation. He stated: “When Senator Lisa Shoman was calling for the senate investigation, what did Godwin Hulse say? Let’s wait for the Audit report. We have the audit report so I am telling Godwin Hulse, let’s see what you are going to do. Are you going to block it again? And when we get into government, we are going to go through this and anybody that can be held liable, we are going to hold them liable and if they have to go to jail, they are going to go to jail. Enough is enough.”
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