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Aug 30, 2004

Massive march protests GOB handling of funds

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It was billed as a massive protest march that, although organised by the Opposition United Democratic Party, called upon all Belizeans to register their anger over alleged mismanagement of government finances. And while politicians may argue over the partisan affiliations of the marchers, there is no doubt that Saturday’s demonstration was large and its participants committed. Although the immediate incident sparking the protest was the revelation that the Social Security Board had guaranteed millions of dollars in loans made to former PUP minister Glenn Godfrey and shelled out close to six million dollars in default payments, the demands of the protestors were varied. Both signs and speeches condemned the actions of past and present ministers of finance, Ralph Fonseca and Said Musa, as well as the bankrupting of the Development Finance Corporation and government favoritism in the treatment of Godfrey’s Intelco venture. Despite the high spirits of the marchers there were no reported incidents of violence and by all accounts the police behaved professionally. As for the Prime Minister, through press secretary Ernesto Vasquez, he released the following comments:

“The Demonstration clearly displayed the level of concern over the Social Security investments. He says his Government is addressing these concerns and he stated again that there will be full disclosure and transparency; that his Cabinet is fully seized of the issues and they will continue to address the issues as Cabinet meets tomorrow. The Prime Minster views the demonstration as an exercise of democracy as guaranteed by the constitution and that he fully respects the demands of the people.”

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