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Jan 23, 2017

San Pedranos Gather to Oppose Offshore Oil Activity

Over the weekend, a group of San Pedro residents marched peacefully through the streets before coming to a stop at the Central Park on the island. There, a public forum on offshore oil drilling in Belize commenced. The participants sent a resounding message to G.O.B., saying no to offshore oil drilling after weighing the odds. Throwing their support behind the grassroots movement was the Coalition to Save Our Natural Heritage, who, along with concerned citizens, is asking the question – “Who is pushing this agenda and saying yes to offshore oil?”  News Five’s Duane Moody reports from San Pedro.

 

Janelle Chanona

Janelle Chanona, Vice President, OCEANA Belize

“We need to know what is your position on offshore oil because we certainly share the sentiment as the Belize Coalition that if so many people, so many groups are telling us we are saying no to offshore oil then it’s really trying to whittle down, well who is saying yes to offshore oil? Because somebody is saying yes somewhere; somebody is pushing this agenda and for whatever reason, they don’t wanna come up and do this.”

 

Duane Moody, Reporting

Over the weekend, a grassroots movement on banning offshore oil exploration in Belize started on La Isla Bonita, following an announcement by the Government of Belize that a countrywide consultation was to commence on January eighteenth. Without reason, however, the consultations were canceled. But a group of concerned residents on the island is not too sure that it is off the table for good. No Oil – a clear message is being sent to policy makers from San Pedranos, including fisherfolk and residents.

 

Kristin Marin

Kristin Marin, Forum Organizer

“We came together and organized to go to Belize City for the consultations on January eighteenth. The next day after we planned this activity publicly, the consultations were canceled. And we said you know what, if next month or the other month they come back and want start, we don’t want to be at stage one; we want to have already mobilized and done something. So we said, the consultations dah Wednesday, we won’t lose momentum and we will have this event on Saturday.  And the peaceful walk is very key because we want to say we don’t have to make no lotta noise and destroy anything. We want to save our reef. It’s peaceful, the same way we want the government to listen to our voices and have a true consultation and an information share.”

 

Organizer Kristin Marin maintains that they are not just ‘reef huggers’ and, in fact, recognize the economic constraints of the country.  Standing in support were business owners, economists, as well as tourists, who work within the offshore industry and understand the dangers of the venture.  Omar Arceo has been fishing for over forty-five years; his concern is the threat that offshore oil drilling would have to his livelihood and that of other fishermen and tour guides.

 

Omar Arceo

Omar Arceo, Fisherman

“No to offshore drilling…because it will affect our livelihood. Not only me because I have an advanced age, but the youths to come and the industry especially tourism and commercial fishing.”

 

Janelle Chanona

“It really makes an exclamation point the fact that this is bigger than politics, this has nothing to do with personalities; this has nothing to do with anything except the fact that there is a direct relationship between our resources and our everyday lives, our livelihoods—bread and butter.”

 

The public forum also saw participation from the Coalition to Save our Natural Heritage and OCEANA Belize, which along with several other N.G.O.s, have been conducting consultations across the country.

 

Janelle Chanona

“We want more people to make themselves aware, be informed, to localize it and to make it their own because we know we get dismissed all too easily. But these voices from the tourism sector, from the fisheries sector, that is the strength of this conversation because those livelihoods depend on that resource. What has been clear to the people that we’ve engaged and what we continue to see in monitoring conversations is that people understand that this threat, those ships have left, those contracts have been canceled, but the threat is constant. Until there is a clear position from the government in terms of where we are going with our environmental agenda, our development strategy, we will always have to be on this defensive monitoring and hoping we find out what’s happening and hoping we know what contract is happening where.”

 

But is the message falling on deaf ears?

 

Kristin Marin

“I don’t feel the government or any relevant—B.T.B. or Ministry of Tourism or Fisheries—they haven’t really come out and said yes or no. So we are asking three things today; that these ministries and these departments come out and say are you yes or no…so we know where we stand and we know where we need to fight. We want them to stick to their word that they were going to impose the ban on offshore drilling on the seven world heritage sites and the reef and we want them to sign a legal…we want it to be legal that no offshore oil drilling unless several conditions are met.”

 

Duane Moody for News Five.

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1 Response for “San Pedranos Gather to Oppose Offshore Oil Activity”

  1. me says:

    The lady cant see or realize that it’s a major force that is pushing for the oil drilling. When the country’s money devalue then all you environmentalists will realize and feel “the heat of the comal” as well as all other Belizeans. Please realize that Belize no produce nothing. Almost everything consumed is imported. BARROW done wreck the economy and from now to next election the money will surely devalue. HE NO KNOW WEH FI DO. If the country has OIL, then I believe it should be harvested to make up for the shortfalls. Now if the ministers thief the benefits of the oil and put in their pockets then I believe they should surely be made to pay for their wrong deeds. Come on people, devaluation is not an answer. Rescuing of the economy should be the major priority. Having corrupt ministers of government pay for their thieving deeds should be the next priority. BELIZE IS SO SMALL IN POPULATION, EVERY ONE SHOULD BE ROTTEN RICH!! MY TWO CENTS ON THIS MATTER!!!

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