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Sep 7, 2016

After twenty years, P.U.P. marches in Belize City

The People’s United Party has not shown its muscle in the city for long years, but today it did and impressively so. The crowd was massive as the national protest snaked from the Constitution Park to B.T.L. Park on Newtown Barracks. Supporters from all corners, as well as from the City came out to protest against the government.  With bubbling anger over a number of blunders and scandals, they drove home the depth of their discontent. There was a long list of hot political issues such as the immigration audit and government’s refusal to hold a senate select investigation, but the cry against corruption took center stage.  News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.   

 

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

A crush of ardent supporters, many of whom were draped in hues of blue and white, proceeded through the streets of Belize City this morning.  According to the People’s United Party, not since 1996 has it mobilized followers to demonstrate against government by marching on the Old Capital.  The show of numbers today, by all estimates closer to five thousand strong, was rather impressive with stalwarts being bussed in from across the country.

 

John Briceño, Party Leader, P.U.P.

John Briceno

“I am very, very pleased with the people that came out.  I am quite excited and energized.  It is a concerted effort and everybody did their part, every constituency did their part and even people individually decided to come out and show their support that they want to stand up for Belize and to give a message to Mr. Barrow that enough of the corruption and that he needs to take decisive actions on the wrongdoing and the corruption of his government.”

 

The scheduled demonstration by the opposition is one of several protests held by other organizations, including the religious community, in the past few weeks.  The corybantic crowd began its procession from Constitution Park and swelled to thousands by the time it got to Albert Street.  Once there, those riding on trailer trucks were asked to change course to avoid crossing over the Swing Bridge, effectively breaking up the throng that had amassed in the downtown area.

 

Valerie Woods, P.U.P. Senator

“No amount a try direct traffic, like was done today, and suddenly get smart with weh di bridge could tek, weh kinda weight and tonnage and all of that, although ih neva deh eena di Petrocaribe list of things to be fixed but suddenly ih bruk up, no amount of that wah stop di call fu wahn Senate investigation now!”

 

And that indeed remains the rallying cry for the PUP.  A majority of those in attendance maintain that there must be a Senate Select Committee to investigate the Immigration Department.  Among them is Senator Eamon Courtenay.

 

Eamon Courtenay, P.U.P. Senator

Eamon Courtenay

“The Constitution was actually amended to specifically give the Senate the power to investigate this type of allegation of corruption, irregularity and fraud.  So the Constitution provides for this.  It is, I would say, disingenuous for the government to suggest that the better approach is to go by way of a bicameral committee.  It begs the question, why.  The reason why is obvious because the prime minister and the United Democratic Party have said that they want to have a situation where they control the committee.  Now as everybody has said, you cannot be accused or suspected of wrongdoing, conduct an investigation into it yourself, report on it yourself and then make recommendations about how to correct your own wrongdoing.  So it is designed of course to protect the corruption, it is designed to corrupt the illegality.  It is designed to protect and cover up the irregularities.”

 

The logic that the bicameral commission will be comprised of a majority from the United Democratic Party and will presumably shield its own from prosecution is one that is also shared by Leader of the Opposition John Briceño.

 

John Briceño

“The Joint Select Committee, they don’t even have a terms of reference.  In the Joint Select Committee the UDP government is going to have a majority.  They said eleven people.  First of all, to get eleven people to agree to anything is impossible.  But secondly, they are going to control six out of the eleven, so they are going to ensure that they do everything possible to protect their corrupt ministers.”

 

And that in itself constitutes a conflict between the public and private interests of those in official positions.  That’s the message brought to an audience of supporters at BTL Park where the rally culminated.

 

Eamon Courtenay

“It is a direct conflict of interest, a direct conflict of interest and the Constitution speaks to this.  It says people who are members of the National Assembly should not put themselves in a position of a conflict of interest and here it is that the people who have been exposed as shown to have been doing wrongdoings want to investigate it.  It seems to me very obvious that the entire country, and I speak specifically about the churches, I speak specifically about the unions and the business community and everybody has got to say to the government: we will not accept this, we have seen the game and we can see what you are trying to do.  It is an embarrassment, it is a total disgrace what the prime minister is proposing and we will not stand for it.”

 

Hence the reason the opposition is calling for reform.  Leading that charge is Deputy Party Leader Julius Espat.

 

Julius Espat, Deputy Party Leader

Julius Espat

“The system has to change and the system has to change for all Belizeans.  We have to have a right to get wih passport.  Boss, we cyant get passport.  We can’t even get wahn goddamn visa.  But di man weh got money da Asia, di man weh got money da Africa, di man weh got money da Europe dehn get it eena one day.”

 

The outcome of today’s protest has created a momentum for the People’s United Party, one which Party Leader Briceño says they will continue to ride in order to raise awareness of what has been taking place in government under the ruling party.

 

Isani Cayeatno reporting for News Five.

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1 Response for “After twenty years, P.U.P. marches in Belize City”

  1. carlos says:

    Very good Belize keep on the pressure

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