Immigration Denies More Tourists Into The Country
The following email was sent to two members of the Belize Tourism Board (BTB) and a copy was sent by the same tourists to Que Pasa Corozal with their story of how one Immigration Officer and one Immigration Superior Officer by the name of Nikolai Zelaya refused to allow them to enter the country.
We urge the Belize Tourism Board as well as the Immigration Department and the Minister of Immigration Hon. Godwin Hulse and the Minister of State Emphasis on Immigration and Border Protection the Hon. Elvin Penner to do something about this major issue at the Northern Border.
Dear Ms. Young,
Dear Ms. Esquivel,
Your names were given to me by your colleague from the tourist information stand at the Northern Belizean Border.
On 11 April 2013, I was traveling with my Mexican socio on a trip along the Mexican Riviera, heading towards Corozal, where we had booked 2 nights at a hotel.
As a world-wide traveler and citizen of Belgium, I have visited dozens of countries and hundreds of places.
Belize should have welcomed me and my socio with open arms but, in stead, I was denied access to the country.
As far as I know, this happens only to criminals and people involved in illegal activities…
The immigration officer said he did not believe me to be a tourist, as my Mexican tourist card was to expire at the end of April.
The immigration officer who attended me at the checkpoint, said he could “help” but I would have to stay 4 nights in Belize.
When I asked for reasons, he could not give me any, just because he decided so.
In the end, after some discussions, he called his superior officer.
In the meantime, my socio did get a stamp in his passport, so he was free to enter Belize but, obviously, was not going anywhere without me.
He was also interrogated by this officer and he asked for his name, which the officer did not want to give because “he was not obliged to do so”.
I was taken to the superior’s office, who started his interrogation by “What’s going on ?”
After quite some discussion, he asked me for proof that I was a tourist.
Well, I told him to check with the hotel where we had booked, to talk to my socio, to inspect my suitcase, to call the hotels where we had stayed on our trip, but he did none of these things.
His mind was set on denying me access, so he concluded he did not believe me to be a tourist.
When I asked for legal reasons, he said he could deny access to anyone for any reason he wanted.
When I asked to speak to a superior officer, he laughed at me, claiming that he WAS the superior, there was nobody higher.
He also threatened me, saying, well, you know what is going to happen when you insist, you know what is going to happen, etc.
I responded that I did not know what was going happen.
In the end, I asked for his name and data, he only gave his name, Nikolai Zelaya, and then turned his back on me and walked back to his office.
For your records, these events occurred on 11 April 2013, between 1 and 2 pm approximately.
The whole “show” struck me as sheer abuse of power in its purest and rudest form.
Well, in the end, it is Belize’s loss, building up a bad reputation in how you treat visitors.
We were planning to spend more days if we liked the place, so you missed out on at least 2 breakfasts, lunches, dinners, etc. for 2 persons, plus the lodging.Best Regards,