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Oct 19, 2016

Unions and Possibly Business Senator Change Their Minds on Inquiry

Elena Smith

Senator Aldo Salazar’s appointment as chair comes after both Senator Elena Smith and Senator Ashley Rocke declined the chairmanship. Senator Rocke had previously stated that he and his family were threatened following the motion he introduced and led through the Senate at its last meeting. Senator Smith briefly explained why she dropped out of the running following a weekend meeting with the National Trade Union Congress of Belize, while Senator Salazar held out hope that Business Senator Mark Lizarraga and the Opposition’s senators will come back to the table.

 

Elena Smith, Senator, Trade Unions and Civil Society

“At our meeting we went through the terms of reference that we had been given and we discussed all the matters as it relates to what will be our responsibilities. And they felt that as one of the organizations pushing for this inquiry, that it was important that we had a vote when the time came for a vote and they also felt that the scope of the terms of reference was not wide enough. And hence the reason why they gave me that mandate that I should not accept being chair of the Committee.”

 

Aldo Salazar

Aldo Salazar, Chair, Special Senate Select Committee

“I am aware that the Chamber passed a resolution saying, which I got notice off, passed a resolution saying that it would not participate in this process until certain things were done. I am also aware that the Chamber issued a subsequent press release in which it states that sufficient—I am paraphrasing—sufficient ground had been closed so that it did not necessitate the shutdown. I do not think the issue of participation in the senate select committee was addressed specifically. Out of fairness to my colleague, he did indicate on the last occasion that he would not attend in any event today’s sitting for personal reasons that had to take him away from this venue. So I guess the end of the long story is that I am not sure. But to answer your question, I have not received any formal communication from the clerk. I am not aware that the clerk has received any formal communication or the president from the Business senator and neither the Opposition senators as to their participation. I wouldn’t call it an appeal, but I’ve done so; I have invited publicly the Opposition and the business sector to reconsider their decision as a matter of national importance. We have clamoured for it, we asked for it. When we were asked to vote, we were asked for a division, I remember the language used that the nation needs to know who it stands for the inquiry and who does not. And I believe that the senate having past the motion, the inquiry is now afoot, it is upon us; I think it behooves any responsible person to attend, to participate despite the minor issues—which I view as minor—in terms of the terms of reference, which is only a minor disagreement in relation to witnesses, which I am certain that we can solve by working together.”

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