Belize’s newest consular office opened in downtown Evanston on Sunday.
At a well-attended Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony, Chicago-area Belizeans were introduced to the new Honorary Consul.
They were also given a grand tour of the new Consulate and Passport Office on the sixth floor at 1603 Orrington Av. in the Chase Bank Building.
Mrs. Leticia Castellanos was welcomed to her new office by Belize’s Ambassador to the United States, His Excellency F. Daniel Gutierrez.
He spearheaded the effort to restore consular services to the Midwest along with Arlette Gomez who liaisons with the Diaspora for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Mrs. Castellanos expressed her enthusiasm to fulfill her responsibilities as Honorary Consul and thanked a number of organizations and Belizean community leaders who assisted in the process of restoring services to Chicago area Belizeans.
The office had discontinued services for several months while a search ensued for a centralized location and the appointment of a new Honorary Consul.
The former Honorary Consul, Debbie Schell, based in Despaines, Il. was the first to oversee the Chicago Passport Office.
She was also instrumental in strengthening consular ties with Central American and Caribbean countries and unifying Belizean organizations in the Chicago area.
Gutierrez’s brief remarks reiterated his office’s commitment to serve the Diaspora well and thanked attendees for their input in locating the new office.
The Ambassador projected that following the installation of essential technical equipment at the new office and staff training, the passport office should be fully functional by the end of September.
Mr. Karl Villanueva, who emceed the event, reminded those present of Evanston’s close ties to Belize City through its Sister City relationship and acknowledged prominent Belizean families who have made Evanston their home.
Alderwoman Robin Rue Simmons from Evanston’s 5th ward attended the ceremony on behalf of the City of Evanston.
Officials representing the City of Waukegan, the Office of State’s Attorney Lisa Madigan, and Lake County Assessor’s Office also attended.