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Aug 31, 2016

Opposition P.U.P. Marches on Belmopan During Senate Meeting

Another protest took place today in Belmopan, the second for this week against the government. Today’s demonstration was mounted by the People’s United Party outside the Senate where a respectable number of supporters came out to take a stand against a long list of ills affecting the nation and to support opposition senators. It is the first in a series as announced by the P.U.P. on Monday, with another to be held next Wednesday in the city. Numerous national issues are battering the government. Most recently, the B.T.L. compensation package and the William “Danny” Mason saga was eclipsed by the damning special immigration audit which confirms corruption at all levels in government.  The P.U.P. is also aggrieved at the ejection of the Cayo South Representative from the House. For these and other issues, they say they have had enough and they are taking to the streets. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.

 

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

Supporters of the People’s United Party, a number, according to Party Leader John Briceño, stood at roughly one thousand strong, journeyed to Belmopan this morning.  The purpose of the trip to the Capital City was to lend moral support to the senators who were meeting today on a number of pressing issues.

 

John Briceño

John Briceño, Party Leader, P.U.P.

“What we’re doing here today is just that on Monday afternoon when we had a meeting before the press conference, we felt that it was important for us to come out here to support our senators. Our senators are making two very important motions—one is for there to be a senate investigation into the criminal behavior or activities that had taken place in the immigration department. And secondly because of the corruption that has become so pervasive from the top to the bottom from the bottom to the top, I think enough of talking. It is time for us to sign the United Nations Convention against Corruption. In March of this year during the budget debate, I invited the Prime Minister to join me, for us to sign this convention, but obviously for some reason or the other, he has refused to do so. And probably we can understand now when we see the report from the Auditor General…we can see why he may be a bit hesitant in signing that convention. So today we are here to just so our support. Just a one day effort…yesterday we started calling people to see who are those who would want to come out. So we are very please; we have probably close to fifteen hundred people showing their support and demonstrating their frustration with the way that the Prime Minister and this U.D.P. government have been mishandling the affairs of this country.”

 

Chairman Henry Charles Usher is among the Belize City supporters who showed up en masse today.  The showing, he says, is a prelude to a massive protest being organized for next Wednesday.

 

Henry Charles Usher

Henry Charles Usher, Chairman, P.U.P.

“As you know today the senators will be calling for an independent senate inquiry into the Auditor General’s report. It is a critical inquiry independent of what is going on right now that needs to be done. As to your question, yes the party leader announced on Monday that we will be mobilizing people for next week Wednesday for a massive demonstration in Belize City. There are so many issues; I can’t even name or list all the issues that are going on in this country right now. But for some: the mason scandal, the passport scandal, the B.T.L. issues, general state of the economy, section fifty-three…all of these are issues that will galvanize the people to come out in support next week Wednesday. It will be a countrywide move and we hope to have the route and everything in place by this weekend. We are still working on the route in Belize City.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“In terms of the P.U.P. at present…what are we looking at in terms of the state of unity of the party seeing as though there are so many issues as you’ve mentioned and it seems as though the government has taken its own position contrary to what the people of Belize may very well be in support of.”

 

Henry Charles Usher

“Well you asked two things there. The government has consistently been taking positions against the wishes of the people—when it comes to Guatemala, when it comes to the economy, when it comes to B.T.L., with Ashcroft, when it comes to section fifty-three…the government has consistently gone against the wishes of the people. When you talk about unity in the party, we just came out of a massive convention the end of January where John Briceño and a new executive was elected. And I think coming out of that convention, you see the unity, your feel the unity and you know that the purpose is there. We are here to serve the people, but we are also here to speak out against the oppression, the victimization that is going on in government right now.”

 

In light of what transpired on Friday, Leader of the Opposition John Briceño says that the party hasn’t heard anything from Clerk of the House or the Speaker pertaining to the suspension of Cayo South Area Representative Julius Espat.

 

John Briceño

“I think it is a crying shame. I think they must be super embarrassed by the way they behaved last week Friday. As what we have been saying since Monday, that what was done was illegal, no proper motion, the procedure was not followed. There had to be a vote on taking out honorable Julius Espat from the House. So I want to make it very clear that Julius Espat was not properly named so he still must remain in the House. So whenever they call the next House meeting, the Government has to invite Julius Espat to go to the House and all of us are going to walk in along with him and we are going to sit in there because all of us are elected by the people to represent the different constituencies that we represent.”

 

The mobilization of supporters for next Wednesday’s protest in Belize, according to Briceño, will see a convergence of party supporters, as well as the social partners.

 

John Briceño

“Well it is important for us to demonstrate to the Barrow/U.D.P. government that we are very dissatisfied. We believe that the U.D.P. conned us in the last election when they said that the best is yet to come. And just in about eight to nine months, the country is spiraling out of control, the economy is getting worse. The Statistical Institute of Belize has pointed out that our exports fell by almost twenty-five percent; all of our major industries are in trouble…people can’t get jobs, the cost of living continues to go up, education continues to go up; the government is broke, they can’t find monies to help students to go to school. now we are hearing that they will not be able to give the pay raise to the teachers, the police, the public officers, to the B.D.F.  This is the worst scandal that any government has ever had in the entire history of this country. Because of all of these things, we believe that they conned us and that it is important for us to go out in one voice, as one people to march in Belize City. That is why we are inviting not only the supporters of the P.U.P.; we are inviting the N.G.O. community, the other social partners, we are inviting the private sector and we are also inviting the government workers to come out and show our displeasure.”

 

Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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