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Sep 20, 2017

Environmentalists Hit Back as Sedi Champions Offshore Drilling

Wilfred "Sedi" Elrington

At Monday’s University of Belize lecture on security threats to Belize, Minister of Foreign and Home Affairs Wilfred Elrington made pointed comments at the environmental lobby against offshore drilling for petroleum. He suggested that some would prefer humans starve rather than take advantage of possible opportunities with petroleum so as to save the animals. This has predictably invoked a response from the Belize Coalition to Save our National Heritage. It chides Elrington for insulting and disrespecting those Belizeans who depend on our seas and barrier reef for employment in tourism, fishing and related industries while advocating for petroleum, an industry it says has caused far greater damage. Elrington had challenged the listening university students to build their moral and ethical base and establish the human resources that Belize needs to prosper and thrive. Here are his comments.

 

Wilfred Elrington, Minister of Home and Foreign Affairs

“The people who are stealing [from] us – in many cases, the people who steal [from] us the most are not the thugs on the street with guns; it’s the guy with the suit and tie. He’s well-educated, well-trained, but serious deficit he suffers from, in terms of moral and ethical values. We have got to imbue that in our people. We have got to let people know that what we use is what we earn, not what we steal, and that it is wrong to steal; it is wrong to cheat. We study, do our research – don’t plagiarize. Learn, acquire our knowledge and use that knowledge.  Look at Belize. We have wonderful maritime resources, absolutely wonderful. As a matter of fact, one ambassador was telling me that every day, there are schools of fishermen coming and fishing in our waters and going away with the fish in our waters. You ever imagine the minerals that are down in our waters? Two weeks ago, one Guyanese minister was here in the country; he said Mr. Elrington, we just found an additional two billion proven barrels of oil offshore in Guyana – that means that we now have four billion! We can’t pay for hospitals; we can’t pay for education; we can’t pay for schools, but we’re not supposed to touch the petroleum, we can’t even find out what is there, because the attitude is don’t touch it – I don’t why it is being left there. The history has shown that you can exploit petroleum and do it quite properly, but we are not even to find out what we have, because somehow that is going to hurt us; that is going to destroy the reef. In this day and age, we have got to think for ourselves. That worries me; because if we are starving, it is content for us to starve so to as to ensure that the fishes are there, that the manatees are going to survive, while the humans are dying; I can’t rationalize it.”

 

The Coalition claims that with multiple intense storms presently battering most of the Caribbean, it is not time to disparage the barrier reef that has long been our strongest line of defence. It notes that Prime Minister Dean Barrow will bring legislation to enshrine an indefinite moratorium on offshore oil in Belizean waters at the next sitting of the House of Representatives for October twentieth, 2017.

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