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Prime Minister addresses private flights and double standards

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Posted: Monday, August 17, 2020. 12:35 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: Prime Minister Dean Barrow sought to distinguish between the Government’s handling of private flights and how that has contributed to the spread of COVID-19 in Belize, and other potential sources.

It is part of a greater question about double standards with the recent passage of legislation to deny bail at the Magistrate’s Court to border jumpers and those engaging in buying of contraband versus a seeming pass for those, in the Prime Minister’s words, “who are well off enough to be able to charter planes to go look after the businesses they own in the States. I don’t see how in allowing that to happen, subject to the safeguards, we can make any comparison with those people and the border jumpers; Lord, they’re not doing anything wrong…”

He added that the difference is legality: the private flights are concerning legitimate businesses, while contraband is manifestly illegal. The matter had been debated at the National Oversight Committee and unanimously agreed on, and no less than four ministries must sign off: Department of Civil Aviation, Immigration and Nationality, Health, and National Security.

Concerning three private flights on the recent list released by the Ministry of Civil Aviation, the executives of Banco Atlántida, parent of Atlantic Bank Limited, received permission to hold a meeting in Belize. According to the Prime Minister, “[their] private plane came, the persons had their COVID negative certificates.  I believe they had their meeting at the bank; they stayed at quarters right upstairs there and then the next day they go to the airport and leave.  I can’t see that there’s a problem with that and their business is still continuing which they own in this country.  I don’t see that it can be fair to exclude them from coming.”

There was another from Branson, Missouri on July 21 that had been flagged, but the one of particular question was on July 10 from Naples, Florida, which the P.M. said he was still investigating.

“I’m still trying to get to the bottom of that, that’s what we spoke of.  I know who is responsible now for having asked permission for the flight to come.  I’m trying to find out now if it was with a single occupant… I’m trying to find out where that person stayed.  The person came, got on a local airline, went to San Pedro and left ten days after.  But where did he go?  If we fell down there I will get down to the bottom of it and I will make a report to the media.”

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