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January 18
12:35 2020


“So I contacted Minister Bev and I said girl, a lot of people they need their papers. We have no discussion about who will be voting, none of that, just the importance of getting people their documents.”
~Dianne Finnegan, January 9, 2020

Question: “Now you’re here at a politician’s office. Is it the understanding that if she helps you to regularize your papers, to get PR or nationality, that you will have to vote for her? Is that the understanding?” ~Jules Vasquez
Answer: “Well I don’t mind because I know they help me, so I help them. I will do if I have to.”~ Jose Alonso Velasquez
Question: “Is that what you understand? That if they get their papers, they have to vote for Ms. Dianne?” ~Jules Vasquez
Answer: “If she give me a hand, I vote for she.” ~Roberto Arana

On January 9, 2019 the media was alerted to a long line of people at the political office of the UDP’s Lake Independence standard bearer Dianne Finnegan. The optics suggested that there was some kind of immigration related activity going on. The long line of immigrants with documents in hand reminded us of the behaviour of the now disgraced Elvin Penner leading up to the 2012 general elections.

When confronted by the media Dianne Finnegan tried hard to pass things off as a simple humanitarian gesture: she simply wanted to help the 500 or so immigrants regularize their status. During that interview Dianne did herself more harm than good and in the process she may have damaged the Minister of State responsible for Immigration, the Hon. Beverly Castillo.
Dianne Finnegan’s behaviour is repulsive for many reasons but mostly because she is behaving in exactly the same way that Penner did. And she is using the same lame excuses that Penner used. Dianne Finnegan’s unabashed immigration brokerage services tell us that nothing has changed in our beloved country.

Penner, as we all know would go on to sully the good name and reputation of Belize by “facilitating” the granting of a Belizean passport to a man who was locked up behind bars half way around the world. Mr. Barrow gave Penner an inch and Penner took a mile. How many inches did Mr. Barrow give Dianne Finnegan such that she could bold facedly harbour hundreds of immigrants, many of them illegal, at her political office without a care in the world? And to add insult to injury she could summon the Minister of Immigration to meet those immigrants to provide “advisory services”?!

Penner’s conduct prompted the mighty Belize National Teachers Union to demand a Senate Inquiry into the “Citizen Kim” matter and the Teachers were joined in their principled stand by the Opposition People’s United Party and the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry, among other civil society partners.

During the Senate Inquiry senior members of the Immigration Department complained about undue political influence and intimidation. Even in such an environment of ministerial abuse the good and decent Immigration Officers held their ground and resisted the unscrupulous politicians. But there were many Immigration Officers who were not so righteous; those Immigration Officers willingly facilitated the politicians and in return they too reaped the benefits of corruption.
It has been almost two years since the Senate Select Committee finished its work but still the UDP Senator and Chair of the Committee, Aldo Salazar, has not produced the Committee’s report. Salazar, in an attempt to justify his tardiness blamed the “exigencies of [his] professional life, as well as [his] personal life”. Aldo’s attitude towards his duty as the Chair of the Senate Select Committee is disgraceful to say the least.

It is an undisputed fact that Dianne has done superb work with the ghetto youths of this country and with other marginalized Belizeans through the Apprenticeship Program. But she must be careful not to squander such good work in her lust for political power.

Last week’s activity on Partridge Street was not about any humanitarianism, it was about politics! If Dianne wanted to fix the inefficiencies and corruption at Immigration she would have spoken out when Penner was caught with his hands in the cookie jar. If Dianne wanted to speed things up at Immigration she would have spoken out about the cumbersome and downright abusive processes that born Belizeans have to go through just to get a passport. If Dianne was truly interested in humanity she would have insisted that her husband and Minister of Housing do his job and ensure access to decent affordable houses for the poor. She did none of these things but now she wishes to be the lord and saviour of the immigrant community in Lake I?

The Senate Inquiry showed all and sundry that there is way too much political influence over the Immigration Department. Last week Dianne Finnegan reminded us that despite all the hype, the Penner saga has blown over like a lee breeze.
In 2020 Belizeans have come to revere politicians so much that you don’t even have to be elected, you just have to be on the ballot and the people worship you! In 2020 as in 2012 it appears that our politicians are still willing to trade our nationality for votes and it appears that we as citizens are still too afraid to do anything about it. If you doubt that these “humanitarian” schemes are designed to breed political loyalty check Jose’s and Roberto’s answers to Jules’ question!
By now beloved, you must know that Belmopan is not about you; Belmopan is about power and self-enrichment! Dianne Finnegan wants badly to go to Belmopan but her conduct on Partridge Street last week should tell us that she is not about us Belizeans; she is about power! If granting hundreds of immigrants expedited citizenship is the pathway to Belmopan then so be it!

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