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Apr 25, 2017

B.N.T.U. Says Education Minister “Feigning Ignorance” on Convention Interference

The Belize National Teachers Union and the million dollar payout to non-striking teachers remain in the news tonight. The B.N.T.U. executive is saying that it is not buying the story by Deputy Prime Minister Patrick Faber that the U.D.P. did not have a hand in the run-up to the election of a new union president in Corozal last Thursday.  In fact, outgoing National President Luke Palacio firmly believes that the Minister of Education is actually feigning ignorance.  It was initially reported that there was an attempt by the ruling party to infiltrate the B.N.T.U. ahead of the annual convention, in an effort to influence the outcome of the election for president.  Palacio has come forward today to say that he had been made privy to correspondences indicating that the Toledo East executive was involved in the bussing of teachers to Escuela Secundaria Mexico in San Roman.  The text messages were being sent from a member of the U.D.P. controlled Punta Gorda Town Council.  Here’s Palacio’s response to Faber’s recent comments.

 

Luke Palacio

Luke Palacio, President, Belize National Teachers Union

“The matter came up several weeks before the convention in which we were asked if we had gathered that it is the intention of the party in government to influence the outcome of the elections and we treated it as that, as basically a rumor.  However, when I was at home in Punta Gorda for the Easter break, I was able to be shown a Whatsapp message originating from a member of the Punta Gorda Town Council in which they were inviting teachers to come to the convention to vote on Thursday.  The bus would have left Punta Gorda at three a.m. in the morning, and that after the voting then they would have gone into the Free Zone.  The exchange continued with a question being asked of who is responsible or who is sponsoring this bus, and the response was the Toledo East executive.  For us, we do not have a Toledo East branch of the B.N.T.U.  We have a Punta Gorda Branch of the B.N.T.U. and a Toledo Rural Branch of the B.N.T.U.  So obviously the inference that could have been made is from a political party.  They would consider themselves an executive for a particular division.  In addition to that, we had heard other comments being made by operatives of the party, particularly indicating to their supporters that they should not vote for Mrs. Elena Smith.  And there were a number of other reports from teachers in other districts in which those statements were also uttered and teachers were being encouraged to go to the convention.  We at the Belize National Teachers Union decided that it was important for our council of management to hold two emergency meetings in effect.  One, the Tuesday afternoon prior to the start of the opening of the convention, to again try and get information, to try and get to the bottom of this matter, because like we said, the B.N.T.U. is a nonpartisan organization.”

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