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Despite the visa hiccup, Chinese still performed

The China Disabled People’s Performing Art Troupe still managed to perform at the Bliss Center for the Performing Arts on Sunday after the government had denied a request to waive visa fees. The group of more than thirty disabled performers travelled through Panama and arrived in Belize on Saturday. Before their arrival to Belize, the Chinese Association of Belize had asked the government to waive more than sixty thousand dollars in visa fees. President of the Association, Edmund Kwan told Love News on Friday that they were shocked at Government’s decision not to waive the fees, especially since it had been done on prior occasions. The assertion is that in order to not upset the Taiwanese Government, which has made several huge financial donations to the government, Belize was not willing to assist the performers who are from mainland China. Last week, Minister of Foreign Affairs Wilfred Elrington said the matter was discussed in Cabinet and that the law does not provide for the fees to be waived. Today, Minister Elrington stuck to his position and added that the Chinese Community in Belize has more than enough money to pay for the fees.

Wilfred Elrington – Minister of Foreign Affairs

“You see it is a catch 22, you waive the visa fee and then they will want a Senate inquiry to find out why you waived the visa fee because you have no authority to do so in law. You can’t win. The Minister informed the Cabinet that there is no provision in our law to waive it. So what you wanted us to do, you wanted us to break the law, you will be the first one to take umbrage at that. So we are trying to be very proper and correct and let me tell you the suggestion that the little bit of revenue that we generated from that is in some way going to hurt the Chinese community or China has to be ludicrous. China and the Chinese community have more money than they don’t know what to do with. It’s not a question that they don’t have resources.  The Chinese community is perhaps the wealthiest community in Belize City, in Belize country. So, they can’t complain if they have to pay a few thousand dollars to help to pay for the roads and the social services and the hospital bills and pay the salaries and the like. Nobody wants to pay anything Jules.  I pay my taxes, I pay my dues and I don’t complain. Why should they be complaining about something as basic as that and if you can’t pay to come to the country, don’t come. But don’t want to come to the country and then be griping over the fact that you are made to pay the legitimate taxes.  It doesn’t look good, to my mind; it put a sour taste in my mouth.  I am very disappointed actually by those people who are spreading that kind of rumor because everybody has to pay their taxes.

Hipolito Novelo

“Mr. Quan, Chairman of the Association says that the visa fees for other groups have been waived in the past, so why not waive it now?

Wilfred Elrington – Minister of Foreign Affairs

“Even if it were done, I am simply telling you what the Minister of Immigration is saying. You see whereas they may have thought that they had the latitude to do that, this present Senate inquiry is now showing, look you can’t do this, this is government resources, this is the people’s resources and no Minister has authority to give away the people’s resources.”

The China Disabled People’s Performing Art Troupe is considered one of the top ten performing groups in China.