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Sep 8, 2017

What did Home Affairs Minister really mean with media jibe over riot?

Are mixed signals being sent by the Ministry of Home Affairs? The Police Department spent upwards of half an hour at its Thursday press conference seeking to justify its treatment of protestors and members of the press, particularly KREM Television’s Marisol Amaya, during Wednesday’s protest turned riot at the Tower Hill Bridge in Orange Walk. But on the sidelines of that briefing, the Minister in charge of Home Affairs, Wilfred Elrington, appeared to contradict his junior Minister, Elodio Aragon Junior, and seemed to shrug off the assault and unrest as just part of the job for the press. News Five’s Aaron Humes reviews what was said to find out what the Minister meant.

 

Wilfred Elrington, Minister of Home Affairs

Wilfred Elrington

“I thought the police did a good job. There was no provision under the terms for the demonstration, for it to be extended to the toll bridge and I would not have encouraged the blocking of the bridge. I don’t think that was necessary at all, so that I thought police had to act to make sure that in fact the commerce of the country and the free passage of people in the society were not impeded.”

 

Aaron Humes, Reporting

Though the Opposition People’s United Party would certainly beg to differ, there seems nothing unreasonable in this opening statement of a press interview conducted on the sidelines of a Police Department event on Thursday. But it is what Minister of Home Affairs Wilfred Elrington said next that most find shocking and offensive.

 

Reporter

“And the roughing up of the media?”

 

Wilfred Elrington

“I thought that the media were enjoying it actually or were in the thick of things. When you look abroad you see the same thing happening. You have some people in the media who are very aggressive and because they want to get the most advantageous position, they tend to get in the midst of the crowd and it’s very difficult for the law enforcement officials to be able to distinguish between who is rabble rouser and who is media. So in the process things will happen, but there is no animosity, there is no ill will. Its juts part of the melee that takes place. It’s natural and normal in my view.”

 

The Minister was not challenged on this statement, as reporters moved to other topics, so he did not elaborate on how Marisol Amaya, clearly in a shirt identifying her workplace, could ever have been mistaken for a “rabble rouser,” or what anyone in the crowd did beyond blocking the highway to the displeasure of the police, to justify the release of CS “tear” gas to disperse them. More importantly, it appears to contradict the apologetic tone of junior Minister and former deputy commissioner Elodio Aragon, who intimated that while things got out of hand, it was through no fault of the press.

 

Elodio Aragon Jr., Minister of State, Police (File: September 7, 2017)

Elodio Aragon Jr.

“The police apologizes to those members of the public, including the members of the press who were out there about their lawful business and were affected by the measures used by the police to restore law and order. I would like the general public and the media to know that the police department has a job to do, and in that situation, we have always asked the media to stay a distance away from the situation.  In this regard, the media was up and front of the situation and in that regard we ended up having to move everybody, including the media.  [At] no time did the police department have any intention of purpose [to] target the media.  That has never been a part of policing.”

 

Also at odds with Elrington’s statement is Special Envoy for Women and Children Kim Simplis-Barrow.  In her statement issued after the Police’s press conference in the afternoon, the Special Envoy writes, “Miss Amaya is a woman, mother, sister, a daughter and a journalist. I join the wider society in condemning the assault made upon her person by police officers. This reduces the image of our country and contravenes all efforts being made by many agencies to end violence against our women.” Aside from the United Women’s Group of the People’s United Party, the Belize Progressive Party has issued a statement of condemnation, and many private citizens have taken to Facebook to express their outrage and support Amaya. But the worrying question is whether Elrington’s nonchalance hides a more sinister view by the ruling party. Aaron Humes reporting for News Five.

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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1 Response for “What did Home Affairs Minister really mean with media jibe over riot?”

  1. Jorge says:

    it’s a start. if the guatemalans could take out otto molina I don’t see why we can’t take out castro, saldivar and vega.

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