BELIZE-POLITICS-PM says he will not dismiss minister over US visa cancellation

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BELMOPAN, Belize, Jun 2, CMC – Prime Minister Dean Barrow has brushed aside calls for him to dismiss his Transport Minister Edmond Castro after the United States said it had cancelled his diplomatic and tourist visa.
Barrow told reporters that he had seen a letter sent to the minister by the US Embassy here and that “there is no indication of any reason for the revocation of the visas, except that the minister declined to come in when invited to do so to discuss the whole issue of renewal of the visas since those visas were about to expire.
“As the minister has said, and that’s clear from the letter that, what he said was confirmed by the letter, he refused to go in because he’s saying that he’s not interested. In other words, had the visas not been revoked, had they been allowed to expire in the next couple of months he would not have sought any renewal,” Barrow added.
The leader of the main opposition People’s United Party (PUP), John Briceño, had earlier this week called on Prime Minister Barrow to “do the right thing (and) fire Minister Castro,” adding that he believes it is “shameful and disgraceful that we have now a sitting Minister who the US government has decided to cancel his visa and we need to ask the question why claiming that”.
President of the activist grassroots organization, Citizens Organized for Liberty through Action (COLA), Geovannie Brackett, is predicting that Washington will move against more government ministers telling Prime Minister Barrow that “he cannot remain silent after his Minister has lost his visa”.
But Prime Minister Barrow said while he is aware that “speculation will no doubt run riot, there is nothing at all to go on that can sustain any allegation, any contention that the revocation was for impropriety. “Certainly the US authorities have never, ever approached me with any kind of complaint or expression of concern about the minister. I know that, for example, there are police officers who’ve had their visas lifted and I understand, second hand, that they are always told why it is that their visas are being pulled.
“ In these particular circumstances where all there is, is the fact of the minister not being interested in a renewal and not being prepared to go in to discuss the issue of the visas, I am afraid all I can do is to say that it is then a personal matter for the minister,’ Prime Minister Barrow added.

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