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Nov 18, 2014

Thousands Converge on the Garden City for Petrocaribe Rally

The main business of the day was inside the House, where representatives from both sides debated the Petrocaribe Loan Motion of two hundred and twenty-eight million which has grown, at last count, to about two hundred and forty million dollars.  Part of the funds, loaned from the Government of Venezuela, has already been spent, but had not been taken to the House for approval until now. The Opposition is challenging the Prime Minister on it, maintaining that he has acted illegally. Government summoned a large crowd from across the country to support its spending of that loan, spinning all dissention as an Opposition stance against development. We start our coverage of today’s proceedings with News Five’s Isani Cayetano, who captured the mood among U.D.P. supporters.

 

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

A sea of red at the foot of the Assembly Building, arguably the largest gathering of party stalwarts of late, converged on Belmopan this morning.  The crush, its deafening buzz heard a distance away from where they congregated, maintained a celebratory mood.  They gathered en masse in anticipation of the second reading of a loan motion to be put forward by the Barrow administration involving the expenditure of Petrocaribe funds.  Those monies are being used for infrastructure work across the country; however, seemingly excessive spending and lack of accountability have divided parliament.

 

U.D.P. Supporter

“This is the very first time that we are seeing so much progress in our country and who does not accept it it’s because they are really blind or don’t know how to think.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“Now as far as seeing the works on the ground and accounting for how the money is being spent I would want to think those are two individual things, issues if I may, in terms of the receipt versus construction of roads, infrastructure and what have you.  Your thoughts?”

 

U.D.P. Supporter

“Well I think that everything is being proven, the prime minister is a clean man, he has never ever gotten a name to say that he is hiding any receipts [or] that he is misspending the money and things like that.”

 

While road works and other initiatives are tangible proof that monies are being spent on improving and developing the country, the UDP government is being criticized by the opposition for failure to honor its fiduciary duties.  Today’s overwhelming show of support comes in the wake of a suit brought by chairman of the Public Accounts Committee Julius Espat.

 

Alberto August, Chairman, United Democratic Party

Alberto August

“The prime minister, I believe, is going to give a proper accounting as to the spending of the Petrocaribe money and the people of Belize can see it in terms of the development that is happening across this nation.  That is why you see them out here on a Tuesday.  You’re right, on a Tuesday they are out here in such large numbers and we still have more people coming in, you know, we still have more people coming in.”

 

That figure stood at a few thousand strong, by conservative estimates, shortly before eleven o’clock.  P.M. Barrow, flanked by Deputy Prime Minister Gaspar Vega and other cabinet ministers, would descend the steps to greet his flock.  Complete with vuvuzelas, the din of the teeming plaza resounded for several minutes, but there would be no public address from the government leader.

 

Elodio Aragon Jr.

Elodio Aragon Jr., U.D.P. Orange Walk East Standard Bearer

“Definitely, the Petrocaribe [fund] is touching every sector and every part of this country.  When you look at Orange Walk for instance, they are spending ten million dollars on the main road that passes through Orange Walk Town and that is a significant improvement in infrastructure for this country and the people are appreciative of that and there is much more to come.  I am confident that the government, the United Democratic Party will continue to bring about development that this country needs.”

 

The rally, as it is dubbed by organizers, is rather ironic since it is a first for any government to demonstrate against the opposition.

 

Isani Cayetano

“It’s a bit strange, if I may, that the ruling party would be seen as demonstrating against the opposition in a particular situation such as this.  Your thoughts?”

 

Alberto August

“Well, the United Democratic Party is doing things that never use to happen.  This is the first time that you are seeing the people are coming out now in support of the people in office.  It use to be in times gone by where the opposition brought the people to demonstrate against the government.  This is a different era, this country is developing that is why, as you can see, that the government can mobilize people the like that.”

 

By midday, a majority of supporters from across all six districts had poured in, many of them standing on the frontline chanting their support for the way the monies are being managed.

 

Stanley Moody

Stanley Moody, U.D.P. Supporter

“Traveling around the country of Belize right, I’ve seen all the positive work that’s being done by the U.D.P. party.  Just in the last several years, we’ve just evolved as a country, a lot of things have happened.  Most people don’t realize it unless you’ve traveled around this beautiful country and I am proud of what it is that the party is doing currently.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“The show of support today is for the Petrocaribe loan motion that’s being tabled for the second reading.  Share with us your understanding of how the money is being spent and the accountability for that particular fund.”

 

Stanley Moody

“Well I think the prime minister has been forthright with the way these monies have been distributed, right.  It’s nothing under the table, he’s been forward and it’s obvious if you look around, whether it’s Belize City or whether it’s Belmopan or Cayo and all the districts, you see where the money is being spent.”

 

Remarkably, while many in the gathering understood the purpose of today’s demonstration, the apparatchiks of the United Democratic Party, as with loyalists of any other political outfit, were out in great numbers, a multitude of whom do not fully understand the issue being raised in the house. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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2 Responses for “Thousands Converge on the Garden City for Petrocaribe Rally”

  1. knowledge able says:

    BYE BYE PUP!!!!!! You had your chances, but to reform your party is impossible. Too much corruption, and its eating you alive. RIP

  2. kmh says:

    Well I guess Petrocaribe money pays for massive rallies too. How much has been set aside for funding the election I wonder.

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