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Jan 13, 2017

Progressives, Territorial Volunteers protest outside House

While inside the House, the amendment to the Referendum Act was thoroughly debated, outside a small group of protestors also had their say. A protest against the amendment was organized by the Belize Territorial Volunteers. While the numbers were small, the message was strong against the amendment and taking the unfounded territorial claim for resolution at the International Court of Justice. News Five’s Duane Moody reports.

 

Duane Moody, Reporting

Today, a small protest was organized by the Belize Territorial Volunteers and their political ally, the Belize Progressive Party at the steps of the National Assembly. Their message was to signal their opposition to Government’s passing of an amendment to the Referendum Act, which reduces the threshold of validity of a referendum from sixty percent of the electorate to fifty percent plus one. Placards in hand, singing and drumming, the group braved the heat until midday when they dispersed. BTV’s Wil Maheia says that G.O.B. needs to stop appeasing Guatemala.

 

Wil Maheia

Wil Maheia, Founding Member, Belize Territorial Volunteers

“We have a government that is appeasing Guatemala so we must stop this madness. We are calling on all Belizeans. We know that people would say that there is not a lot of crowd, but I am happy with the amount of people that came out, the people that got the ganas to really take a stand.”

 

Executive member of the Belize Territorial Volunteers and Political Leader of the Belize Progressive Party, Patrick Rogers also spoke about what transpired inside the House today. He is of the opinion that the country has been going through a wrong process in going to the ICJ and contends that there are alternative solutions to the issue at hand.

 

Patrick Rogers

Patrick Rogers, Political Leader, B.P.P.

“If we were to reach the referendum—whether we vote yes or no—we would have validated the unfounded claim that Guatemala has over our territory. So we are saying how could we press the reset button and get out of this quandary. Well it is simple Belize. We are where we are at because of following United Nation’s Charter under chapter six, which is labeled Pacific Settlement of Disputes—disputes when you have a neighbor that you are at peace with, you apply under one of the articles under chapter six. So we reach to the I.C.J. under article thirty-three one of the United Nation’s Charter. We are at judicial settlement after mediation, negotiation, everything else has failed. Enacting article thirty-nine from the United Nation’s Charter; you see article thirty-nine falls under chapter seven that is entitled, Acts of Aggression/Threats to the Peace. So when you are in those times with a neighbor, you now scrap what you are doing from article thirty-three-one—reaching an I.C.J. through a special agreement that is bias against you—now we could just forget that. That will be lost if we now say that we are under aggression; we need to establish normalcy at the Sarstoon and it will take a bigger power to bully that bully.”

 

The BTV and some Belizeans are of the opinion that Belize has lost the Sarstoon, citing an unofficial protocol enforced by the Guatemala Armed Forces prohibiting Belizeans from fishing in the area and even traversing the Sarstoon, without their approval. Maheia says that many more illegal activities are happening in the south in Belizean territory.

 

Wil Maheia

“You have people hunting in the Sarstoon Temash national Park, clear evidence with roads that were put in with the oil company. And then you have Guatemalan fishermen fishing within a mile of the forward operating base. So why have a forward operating base if the soldiers are going to have to take instructions from the higher ups not to enforce the fishing or hunting regulations or even the immigration laws because they have crossed into Belize illegally?”

 

But like many other activities, is the message of today’s protest falling on deaf ears? If so, one protestor chose to send a direct message to Guatemalan leader, Jimmy Morales.

 

Leonardo Sho

Leonardo Sho, Bladen Village Protestor [Translated]

“Morales, our citizenship belongs to the Maya and Belizeans and it will always be our country. It will never be for Guatemala. We have English-roots, not American. We are Maya and we will live as Belizean forever because it is our country and we will continue to fight for our country. And I send you this message. Please order you army, your police, your people to respect our country because it belongs to us.”

 

Patrick Rogers

“We want the people to pressure the area reps to say listen to what the B.P.P. di say. They don’t got no elected members ina dah house, but what they are saying has merit and unu should bring them to the table for discussion.”

 

Duane Moody for News Five.

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1 Response for “Progressives, Territorial Volunteers protest outside House”

  1. Belize's says:

    Way to go!!!

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