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Apr 12, 2019

Outside the House: Supporters Say They Want to Vote YES and NOW!

As the debate raged inside the National Assembly, supporters of the yes vote stood at Independence Hill where speakers were placed and police were out in numbers. They were there for hours to support the government which tabled and passed the new Belize Territorial Dispute Referendum Bill 2019. In their view, the referendum must be held now to go to the International Court of Justice. News Five’s Duane Moody reports.

 

From as early as nine a.m. today, hundreds of Belizeans from across the Jewel were bussed to the Capital City of Belmopan—some wearing United Democratic Party shirts. There were others with the referendum unit as well as the Citizens for the Defense of Sovereignty T-shirts. They gathered on the steps of Independence Hill in anticipation of the Belize (Territorial Dispute) Referendum Bill, 2019. Within minutes, the police set up barriers as well as a media booth from where the audio from inside the House was projected.

 

Linden Flowers

Sr. Supt. Linden Flowers, Western Regional Commander

“We set up our usual intervention to provide for our citizens. We learned that persons were coming to support the Bill and we put security measures in place to not have any disruption of the House, the government’s business.”

 

Duane Moody

“Sir when it comes to these persons, do they need to get a permit to be out here? Did they need one?”

 

Sr. Supt. Linden Flowers

“Nobody obtained a permit today. All the persons who came are individuals to support from their individual constituency, nobody got a permit. So nobody came as a group or an organization to say that.  So a number of persons brought their different placards in support of what is going on here.”

 

Duane Moody

“As the debate rages on inside the National Assembly between parliamentarians on a new referendum bill, residents have been camped out here on Independence Hill in protest. They say that they want the referendum now and that they want to take the territorial claim to the International Court of Justice for final resolution.”

 

Hansel Warrior, Toledo East

“Last Wednesday, Belizeans were denied the opportunity to exercise their right if they want to go or not go to the I.C.J.  All of us here; we are not here to state a political position, we are here as Belizeans to say that we want our rights restored so that we can vote to decide on this national issue, because we shouldn’t treat this thing as a political issue.”

 

Jose Garcia

Jose Garcia, Armenia Villager

“These are people who are sitting there for years and they know that this is the only way. Why do they want to postpone it for more? They are talking about more education. There is no other education more than what they have been hearing. What do they want the people out there to tell them? We should not go to the I.C.J.? It’s time to go to the I.C.J. We are not ready for any military confrontation.”

 

Aviano Mesh, Resident, San Roman, Corozal

“I want vote now.”

 

Duane Moody

“What is determining how you are going to vote?”

 

Aviano Mesh

Aviano Mesh

“I will vote yes because I know the whole history of my country.”

 

The protestors came from across the length and breadth of the country. There were Mayan men, women and children from the deep south who stood watch, listening to the debate. Simultaneously, there were Garifuna drumming by Dangriga residents who were later joined by area rep, Frank “Papa” Mena.

Aviano Mesh is a former surveyor from San Roman in Corozal and says that their presence is not politically motivated, but for country.

 

Aviano Mesh

“We cleared the monuments of this country before independence; nine years before independence.”

 

Duane Moody

“So you believe there is nothing to stop us from going to the I.C.J.?”

 

Aviano Mesh

“Nothing to stop. Right through, maybe next week and so.”

 

Jose Garcia

“I’m out here today because I want to come and support the I.C.J. referendum because I believe it is something very important for all Belizeans, all who are from this country to make a decision on that day for voting.”

 

Hansel Warrior

Hansel Warrior

“I love PG, I love Toledo. I born there; mi navel string bury right there, so I wah never betray and tell my people them that this is the wrong way. So, we are dealing with a bully, mi bredda. And when you have a bully, we believe in peace. And the only way to restore peace is by going to a court so the court can restore that peace.”

 

But have these registered Belizeans been giving the necessary information and be ready to make an informed decision whenever a new referendum date will be announced?

 

Aviano Mesh

“I think about ninety percent of this nation is well informed because communication is advanced in this time and if you noh want put it in your mind, it’s because you noh want. Only the south maybe a few villages, but the whole nation knows it.”

 

Jose Garcia

“I believe I have been informed. I mean this did not just start a couple of weeks ago. I have seen very many panels out there—people talking and conversation—and it give me a strong belief that we don’t have a case to lose. We have a strong case of winning and I believe that this is the opportunity for Belizeans to come out since we want to do it legally. We are recognized internationally by all countries that we are sovereign country, an independent country. Why are we just afraid to make a decision? I am just kinda angry because it is getting more politicized.”

 

Hansel Warrior

“We have two treaties and both treaties strengthen our position that we have a case and I am convinced that we are going to win.”

 

Hansel Warrior, the U.D.P. Committee Member from for Toledo East, says that the pillaging of the forest in the south as well as the illegal fishing in Belizean waters by Guatemalans has to stop.

 

Hansel Warrior

“Look at the resources in Toledo. We di lose log; a lot of logs are being removed from our forests. We have our marine life. So everything that belongs to belongs to Belize, we begin to lose this thing on a regular basis. So to stop this; to tell Guatemala to stop, we have to do it through peace. And the only way we can get that peace is by going to the I.C.J.”

 

Duane Moody for News Five.

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