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Sep 1, 2017

OCEANA Says Belizeans Will Decide Oil Issue

Janelle Chanona

Despite agreeing to legislate the moratorium, the Prime Minister has told environmentalists and the press that he remains against a permanent ban on exploration, as he is unwilling to rule out the possibility that with advanced technology Belize can still take advantage of whatever resources lie under the sea. The other concern is that the actions of the current administration cannot bind a future one, even by referendum. But the environmentalists are still holding fast, as Janelle Chanona of OCEANA in Belize explains.

 

Janelle Chanona, Vice-President, OCEANA Belize

“That’s the beauty of a democracy, because these are shared natural resources, and clearly, the Belizean electorate and the constituency of people that depend on these marine assets have made it clear to all Belizean leaders – and that would not be lost on any future leader – that they want to be engaged and they want to meaningfully be consulted and participate specifically in this issue. So if and when any future parliament is moved to upend the work that the Prime Minister is committed to doing this year, that must be borne and the electorate must be afforded its right to be engaged, its right to be consulted and its right to be convinced that what has happened in every other country would not ever happen to the marine resources that we have here, that we benefit from every day, that sixty percent of our population depend on for their lives and livelihood and that as a nation we depend on every hurricane season. So these are very realistic concerns, these are concerns that I don’t think are lost on any leader just how overarching an issue offshore oil exploration is; this is not done lightly. We really need to make sure to remind every future leader that this is exactly the situation and that Belizeans want to be consulted on this issue. And I think any conscientious government would bend over backwards to ensure that they do not enter lightly, and certainly without a mandate from the people of Belize specifically on this.”

 

Chanona notes that the Coalition and OCEANA have, for the month of September, made a public call to all leaders of Belize to provide their formal positions on the issue.

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