Digging Into the Portable Passport System and Economic Citizenship

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Updated: May 3, 2017

Today’s Senate hearing was brief, with Rodolfo Bol as the only witness to appear before the Special Senate Select Committee. Bol is the IT Manager for the Immigration Department and he was mainly questioned about the passport system and its processes. Senator Mark Lizarraga questioned Bol about a particular statement in the auditor general’s report. According to the report, holders of Belizean passports had applied for economic citizenship through someone in Dalian, China. The passports were processed and issued in Belize, but the holders of the passports were seeking verification since they did not visit any office to submit their information.

MARK LIZARRAGA

“So these people visited someone in Dalian China, apparently they had applied for some economic citizenship program and I’m wondering how could a passport be issued legally through a system, through an economic citizenship program how could this passport be issued in Belize and these people were in China?”

RODOLFO BOL

I wouldn’t know. You only have the system on those missions and also at the district offices in Belize.”

MARK LIZARRAGA

So there was no data capture equipment in China as far as you know?”

RODOLFO BOL

Yes.”

MARK LIZARRAGA

Only in the places that you mentioned?”

RODOLFO BOL

Yes that is right.”

Former Immigration Officer Therese Chavarria told the Senate Select Committee that the reason they had to take a picture of a picture for three persons was because they did not have a portable passport system at the time. Currently, the immigration department has a functional portable passport system used to capture information from persons who are unable to make it to the immigration department in Belmopan. According to Bol, the portable passport system was sent to Bolivia, Mexico City and Dubai.

RODOLFO BOL

“We have what we call a mobile system and this is used to do at the moment emergency passports for people in the hospital or people outside of Belize, I believe you are aware of the situation in Bolivia we used that system we moved that there and we did the capture of application of Belizeans there and we have used it several times in Mexico, we are doing one at the Medical Associates so its used over a period of time with the approval of the director and so they issue the okay and we proceed to use it.”

MARK LIZARRAGA

Other than Bolivia, and I don’t know the instance you are talking about can you tell us more about the use of the system in Mexico City? I’m aware that the one in Bolivia was to capture some 1500 Belizean people from the Mennonite Community that live in Bolivia and they wanted to regularize their status so efforts were made to send them issued passports but what was the incident that you are referring to in Mexico.”

RODOLFO BOL

In Mexico City I believe it was a request from the Mexican embassy they had some Belizeans that could not travel down to Belize and asked us to provide that service to them and capture that information and proceed to issue passports to them.”

MARK LIZARRAGA

Do you know when this was done?”

RODOLFO BOL

The first one, the Bolivians was in February 2012, I believe it was in 2013 I don’t have the exact dates….”

MARK LIZARRAGA

For Mexico?”

RODOLFO BOL

Yes, we have that on file so I can always provide that information for you.”

MARK LIZARRAGA

Yes if you could provide us the information of who or a little more history on what happened in Mexico. Is there any other foreign ?”

RODOLFO BOL

Yes we did one last year for Dubai.”

MARK LIZARRAGA

And what was the purpose of this ?”

RODOLFO BOL

It was the same reason, Belizeans had requested through the mission in London to see if they could have this service to them, it was a Belizean community, not as large but still if they could provide that service to them to accept the application and print the passport in Belmopan and somehow get it to them.”

The other witness scheduled to appear today could not be located.