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Nov 30, 2015

Protest of Guatemalan President-Elect Crashed by GSU Officers

News Five has extensive coverage tonight of the very under the radar visit of Guatemalan President Elect Jimmy Morales. Morales is on a whirlwind round of country visits prior to his official inauguration, but there was no official announcement of his trip to Belize and media reports in Guatemala said that he wasn’t coming to Belize. In fact, it was until late Friday afternoon that the Government Press Office issued a very brief statement indicating that Morales was visiting. Morales entered the country via our border with Mexico just after ten on Friday night, and transported by official motorcade to the Radisson, where he spent the night. Our coverage starts on Saturday morning, outside the Prime Minister’s Whitfield Tower office on Coney Drive, where Morales was scheduled to pay a courtesy visit. The media was there, and so were five protesters. Mike Rudon has the story of the drama which followed.

 

Mike Rudon, Reporting

On any given day, there are literally hundreds of patriotic warriors on Facebook, lashing out at Guatemala for its bully tactics and unfounded claim. But on Saturday morning only five stood with signs to protest the visit of Guatemalan President-elect Jimmy Morales. At nine in the morning security outside the compound which houses the PM’s Belize City office was tight, but not oppressive. But at around nine-thirty, with the Police motorcycle escort signalling the arrival of Morales, everything changed.

 

In the footage you can see COLA president Geovanni Brackett approaching the motorcade, sign in hand, a policeman in tow. And that’s when the GSU entered the picture.

 

 

Activist Yaya Marin-Coleman tried to physically block the motorcade, but she is also unceremoniously hauled aside. Brackett, by this time has been placed on the ground, a GSU officer holding a gun on him. After the motorcade has entered the compound to discharge the President-Elect, Brackett is then taken into custody. Again, activist Yaya Marin-Coleman feels the weight of the GSU, this time around her neck.

 

Wil Maheia

Wil Maheia, Protestor

“Here we are, we have Guatemalans every day in the Chiquibul, we have Guatemalan fishermen every day out of PG, all the way up to English Caye, and you don’t see any force. A few Belizeans come out here today and the Police deh rough them up. I don’t know what kind of country we’re living in but we can’t give up because at the end of the day this is home, and hope that at the end of the day somebody will get the sense and begin to stand up for what they believe in.”

 

Heavily armed, the GSU took control of that section of Coney Drive outside the PM’s office. There was little to protect against, just media personnel mulling around and two protesters, signs in hand, asking Belizeans to honk their horns in support.

 

Wil Maheia 

“I am disappointed with Belize City. I don’t know what’s happening with this city. You have so many of these people who talk, and when the Guatemalan comes into their bedroom, brethren, and this is the response that we give the man, welcoming him into the bedroom. I am so disappointed with this crowd. I guess that is why there is so much division in Belize City, because they know they can count on Belize City people to do nothing. That to me is the conclusion…to do nothing. If Dean Barrow had said Guatemala is for Belize and he went to Guatemala what do you think would have happened? Guatemalans would have been by his hotel. Last night all Belizeans should have been by the Guatemalan president hotel deh blast music so he can’t sleep, to let him get the sense. But I don’t know what is happening with the Belize City people. I am really disappointed in the Belize City people. I mean, really, extremely. I mean, these people deh pass here and they noh even give…about what’s happening out here.”

 

A half hour after that dramatic arrival, it was time for the departure, with the GSU armed and prepared to take down any threat – even maybe from a journalist just trying to take a picture.

 

And with that, it was done, except for some bitterness, perhaps justified.

 

Wil Maheia

“Behind the scenes the amount of inbox messages we get where people are saying they’re with the cause, but they can’t even come out and support. Look, it’s Saturday…what do they have to do? I’m sure if it was Chronix was out here out here would have…but again it goes to the education system because most Belizeans don’t even know about the claim. So the school system, the education system is failing the Belizean people. They have nothing to stand for. How can they stand up for Belize if they don’t know about Belize?”

 

Mike Rudon reporting for News Five.

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