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Feb 1, 2011

COLA camps out in front of Prime Minister’s Office

APAMO and OCEANA, the two powerful organizations against oil exploration are already on record against offshore and onshore licenses in protected areas. Seventeen licenses have been issued, more than half of the country has already been parceled off for exploration, and a recent license granted to Paradise Energy, a local company that has no involvement in the oil industry, has set off more protests. Several N.G.O.’s have joined a peaceful protest organized by the Citizens Organized for Liberty through Action that will continue through the night.  News Five Jose Sanchez reports from the capital.

Jose Sanchez, Reporting

A consortium of related Nongovernmental organizations got off a bus in front of the Prime Minister’s Office in Belmopan early this morning. They were quickly confronted by police officers who weren’t happy with their presence.

Nigel Petillo, BGYEA

“Police usually work for the government, they dah noh bout the poeple. Their interest was to protect their political people and noh even hear why we deh ya. We were here to get answers to get a statement from the government that hey we have concerns, take the time out and talk to wi. We think it is the di best time to get you because all ah unu di look fi gather here. So discuss this matter here. But for some reason, they noh see it of importance. They believe that di lee numba ya no significant. Once again this is a COLA initiative.”

The COLA initiative is actually comprised of close to forty persons who intend to sleep the night outdoors. While tents were already being constructed, COLA’s execs explained the reasons for the protest.

Geovanni Brackett, V.P. COLA

“Today we are calling on the government to ban, oil exploration—offshore and in protected areas. As you know, Cola is the chair for the Belize Coalition to Save our Natural Heritage. We are also calling on the Belizean people to sign a petition that is going around through the coalition to let’s take the issue to a referendum. Let us not have a bunch of politicians decide that they will drill in our sea, let us not have a bunch of politicians decide that a bunch of hurry-come-up companies drill on our protected areas. As we said, how can you for years protect our protected areas from people going in hunting, fishing and what have you and now you open it up to oil companies.”

Moses Sulph, President, COLA

Moses Sulph

“The clear thing is relentless in that those concessions must be revoked and we want a ban on offshore drilling. We are relentless that the sharing agreement with regards to the windfall tax needs to change so that it can benefit the people of the country. And now I would not speculate earlier, I had no idea of substantial evidence why the Prime Minister is so adamant about not lowering the windfall tax to make more of the money benefit the people of this country, but now I can clearly put my opinion together and say this was the reason all along. Because now it is clear that there are family members within the said government who have been given concessions to explore for oil. They don’t want more money to leave their family and friends. And it is time—the Belizean people have been in poverish for too long and it seems that there is only prosperity amongst one set of people—the families of the monarch (I don’t know if that’s what you want to call it) and their friends. They are the immediate ones who are benefitting and our people are suffering.”

In the scorching heat of the afternoon sun, below the shadow of the assembly building, the crowd sat idly down on the grassy Knolls. Belizeans For Justice Founding Member Yolanda Schakron passed the time while reading a quote from Mahatma Gandhi that said “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”

Yolanda Schakron, Belizeans for Justice

Yolanda Schakron

“We want people to realize that we are very determined and we want the people to come and join us. Sometimes you just have to start something, you have to take leadership in a movement fi start se change ina we country and that’s what we want to do. We want people to show that we are there for them and I think that the people have the power and we want to educate them and we want them to know that in numbers you can unite and make a difference.        We are an organization that tries to bring awareness to injustices in our country. It’s not only about crime, but you know other things lead to crime. And we are here because we are forming a coalition with the other two N.G.O.’s that are here because we want people to stand up. We want the government to listen to cries of the people. I mean, I think we have been talking, talking, talking and it seems that our leaders just don’t care—they have this arrogance about them. I think that it’s time we start moving and do some action.”

Nedal Jihaad McLaren, Commoners

Nedal Jihaad McLaren

“We represent commoners. Commoners is a group; we have no boundaries, no borders because we are all common people. Basically we are out here because we are not satisfied with the level of law or justice in this country. And we want that justice be across the board, we want law and order be in place and as far as we are concerned; we want a government that understands governance, management and administration of this country. We are not interested in anything else. We are not about politics, we are not about personalities. We are about country. It is god, country and people that come first as far as commoners are concerned.”

Yhonny Rosado

Yhonny Rosado, Treasurer, FECTAB

“We have been talking to COLA and FECTAB has sat down together with COLA and Belizeans for Justice and the guys suffering with the tendering for Carnival. So we have gathered together, we’ve had a couple of meeting so we are in solidarity with our brothers so when they are fighting the fight we are with them and we have a problem, they are fighting for us.”

Jose Sanchez

“Now the issue of the tendering situation itself and the oil; it’s really is a big issue. Now you as FECTAB how do you feel that you can contribute to this anti-drilling effort?”

Yhonny Rosado

“Well we’re just trying to make the public aware of what’s happening with the oil and with the tendering. Now we mostly know about the tendering because we make our living as FECTAB as the cruise tourism industry. So we are here to make people know that whenever we have a problem with tenders, with Carnival; they are huge, huge company/corporations and locally for a Belizean person to fight on their own is difficult so we need the support from every Belizean not just from COLA.”

geovanni brackett

According to COLA’s Vice President, the campout corresponds with an important deadline concerning the Barrier Reef’s status as a World Heritage Site.

Geovanni Brackett

“Today is also symbolic because it is the day that UNESCO gave to government a deadline to answer its list of corrective measures. But while there were a list of corrective measures, Jose, that the government could meet, in it was stated clearly that oil exploration within the barrier Reef Reserve System is prohibited. Government continue to ignore this fact, government continue to show that it is willing to risk us being delisted. And we are saying that that is our patrimony, our pride that we can say we are a World Heritage Site. We have the largest Barrier Reef in this western hemisphere and it is something we are proud of. Now they have raped us of our mahogany, they have raped us of our chicle and now they want to rape us of our oil.  And unless we take proactive measure, we will continue to be raped.”

Jose Sanchez

“Do you think the delisting is the objective—if we are delisted then no more problems with UNESCO?”

Geovanni Brackett

“You know I can’t say, yes that is the government’s objective, but you certainly can’t run away from that—I wouldn’t say that fact—but that question. To one, for example; OPIC just relinquished its entire concession. Government should have jumped on that and say here what we put a moratorium on that block on that area and that would have shown UNESCO that the government is serious.”

Another notable presence was Rufus X who browsed through the Belize Constitution while eating grapes.  The occasional curious official walked by to ask what was happening, including the NEMO minister.  The peaceful protest will end with the rise of Wednesday’s sun.  Reporting for News Five, Jose Sanchez.

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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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21 Responses for “COLA camps out in front of Prime Minister’s Office”

  1. reggie says:

    my Belizean People now you guys are getting things together, It is never to late to make it happen.UNITED WE STAND. SHOW THE GOB WHO HAVE THE POWER.NOT THE PEOPLE IN G.O.B. IS THE POWER YOU ALL ARE.pay attention something is going on at BTL. 2 Barrow in 2 week went into private practice.BTL make 56 Millions in sale.and FIFTY MILLION CAME FROM SSB.MY POOR PEOPLE MONEY WILL BE GOING DOWN THE DRAIN SOON.NEXT BARROW TO GO IS THE PM KEEP THE PRESSSURE UP GUYS. POWER TO YOU ALL.

  2. shock says:

    Hello Belizeans, are you ready to sacrifice for what you believe is right? Now that you have instant news from around the world daily, do you see how folks go about really getting the attension of public officials? If you are going to do something do it right, laying on the ground in front of a government building means nothing other than allow the politician to see you as a mark person for vindictive reaction behind the seen against all of you. You have to learn how to excite the masses to your cause to make them feel that its their cause also. Now you should be able to get the folks who are thinking about running for political office to join hands and hopefully get some political milage in the process.

    Good idea, but you will never get the politicians to budge unless he sees large numbers of individuals involve, after all voters are his stock in trade, and he can’t afford to pist off a great movement. The problem with getting Belizeans involve with none plitical issues is that most things in the country revolves around politics. If I vote for the man I might get something from him. You all live in Belize and you know that what I’m saying are facts, the way things work in the home town. The fact that the son of the highest ranking man in the country is involve in the dispute of drilling for oil in the county, is a clear indication that the big man dosen’t give a darn about public opinions. Go to the drawing board and learn how to conduct a real ground swelling movement, only then will you be able to get the respect you are seeking for the country. Unity is strength.

  3. Lucas says:

    If my understanding is correct, Sulph is a Jamaican. He should be declared persona non grata and be escorted off Belize. We already have enough Belizean trouble-makers. Mrs. Schakron should make clear if she wants to fight crime or be involved in politics. These so called environmentalists should be pushing for policies that would protect the environment without hindering developement. Brackett, Alonzo and Cho’c are self-serving. They are dancing the piper’s song. They drive good cars and have 3 meals a days yet they have the guts to say they are fighting for Belize. I have no love much less respect for Mr. Barrow and neither do I have it for these so called environmentalists. Has anybody checked if they have at list a bachelor in environmental studies?

  4. The People Had Enough says:

    GODDAMN !@#$%^& DISGRACE HOW LITTLE PEOPLE SHOWED UP. I WISH I WASNT A HUNDRED MILES AWAY OR I WOULD BE RIGHT THERE. TAKING INTO TO CONSIDERATION HOW MANY PEOPLE LIVE CLOSE AND WITHING BELMOPAN, THE STREETS SHOULD HAVE BEEN SWAMPED.

    BUT WE COMPLAIN AND WHINE EVERY MORNING ON THE TALK SHOWS ABOUT HOW GOVERNMENT THE TAKE CHANCE OF US, BUT OF COURSE THEY WILL AND WILL CONTINUE TO, CAUSE ALL WE BELIZEANS DO THAT !@#$%^& COMPLAIN AND COMPLAIN AND NO DO $#!@.

    GODDAMN SHAME!!! BARROW NO STOP MI BALLY, YOU RAPE THIS COUNTRY AND THE DUMB@$$ PEOPLE WILL STAND RIGHT THERE AND DONT DO !@#$ EXCEPT CALL THE TALK SHOWS AND WHINE, SIT AT THE BARS AND WHINE, STAND ON THE STREET CORNER AND WHINE….DAMN THIS COULD BE A NICE CATCHY TUNE IF SUPER G SING IT….JUST WHINE SIT DOWN AND WHINE AND WINE AND WHINE!!!!

  5. rod says:

    about time belizeans start standing up for their rights show this no good gov. who they work for viva la revolucion.

  6. Angelique says:

    why don’t they just all go and form their political party and done. That’s the only way

  7. Angelique says:

    Moses Sulph is treading a very fine line. Civil servants are not supposed to be openly engaged in politcal rallies and activity.

  8. Justice says:

    Finally! I hope this send a message loud and clear. Enough is enough!

  9. belizeanpride says:

    we got to chase this bald head out of town people. we sing it but we have to do it literally now before this fool bald head do something worst to our jewel Belize.

  10. Leo says:

    It so saddens me that people like Lucas instead of supporting these people is actually criticising them… If we dont protect our country who else will.

  11. rasman says:

    THE POLITICIANS WILL NOT HELP US ORDINARY BELIZEANS, THEY ARE ONLY HELPING THEMSELVES AND THEIR FAMILIES. I SEE US ORDINARY BELIZEANS DIVIDING OURSELVES AND KILLING OURSELVES BUT ARE TOO AFRAID TO CONFRONT THE ENEMIES OF THE PEOPLE – THE POLITICIAN. WHEN WE HAVE PEOPLE FROM OUR MIDST STEP FORWARDS WE LIKE THE POLITICIANS PROSECUTE THEM, INSTEAD. I CHALLENGE THOSE WHO DO NOT LIKE THE MESSENGERS TO THEY STEP FORWARD INSTEAD OF BAD MOUTH THOSE WHO HAVE STEP FORWARD TO CHALLENGE THE STATUS QUO IN OUR COUNTRY.
    LETS GET ON TO SUPPORT THOSE WHO GONE TO THE PRIME MINISTER’S OFFICE. WE SHOULD BE THERE BY THE HUNDRED. AFRAID TO MAKE SACRIFICE THEN NOTHING WILL CHANGE MY BROTHERS AND SISTERS

  12. prettygirl says:

    May be Lucas is not belizean or if he or she was they would feel the same we we do, Come on belizeans lets stand together if we need to take it a step more lets do it lets stand up we need to

  13. jellobaby says:

    Some1 pleez buy Moses Sulph a new neck tie. He been wearing that tie every-time I see a picture or video of him. He even wears the same necktie wen he was UB president (at times it seemed he was president for life like Hosni Mubarak)

  14. Earl Grey says:

    TO QUOTE THE JAMACIAN POP PHILOSOPHER BOB MARLEY :-

    GET UP- STAND UP ……STAND UP FOR YOUR RIGHTS………..
    GET UP – STAND UP………………….DON’T GIVE UP THE FIGHT!!!!

  15. sofia says:

    Bravo Moses. yolanda and environmentalists. Its admirable your courage and its true that we belizeans whine and whine and never do nothing.. how can we help and send money for food for people taking a stand ?.. at least if we cannnot be there wiith you we can help with sending some food and needed items. Please say how we can help and where to pledge our help and support…The people are with you more than you think. THIS HAS TO GO TO A REFERENDUM..

  16. shy says:

    Big up to all belizeans weh actually give a dam and actually have the bills to stand up for the country they care about instead a just sit back and noh do a dam thing.

  17. Disappointed says:

    Jellobaby, why are you bothered by Moses’ ties? What does that have to do with the issue. Gosh, evidence of no substance from your point of view. I applaud what these people are doing. Belizeans are so tolerant, it is about time they stand up for what they want. I don’t believe anyone who does not have anything positive to say about these people should post anything as he/she is just wasting his/her time. He/She is one of those Belizeans or people who just complain complain complain etc and do nothing. What will complaining do to help the process? Nada. Giovanni, Moses, and others continue, u guys got guts and are doing something at least to bring about a change and not sit back and whine and whine but doing something.

  18. spanglish says:

    PACK OF CLOWN WENT TO PAPPY SHOW THEMSELVES DA PAN!!
    SON PENDEJOS Y IDIOTAS, NO SE PARA QUE ESTAN HACIENDO FIGHT FOR, PARECE QUE SE LES HIZO FORGET TODO LO QUE EL DIABLO SAID MUSA Y FONSECA HICIERON AL PAIZ DE BELICE. ESE SULPH NI ES BELICENO, LA BRUJA DE YOLANDA DEBE DE ESTAR ACONSEJANDO A LOS JOVENENS EN BELICE PARE QUE DEJEN DE ESTAR HACIENDO KILL ONE ANOTHER, Y EL PENDEJO DE NIGEL PETILLO ES UN TERRORISTA, EL CREE QUE EL ES EL PRIMER MINISTRO DE BELICE,
    SABEN QUE HAY COSAS MAS MEJORES QUE PUEDEN ESTAR HACIENDO, UNO STOP PAPPY SHOW UNO SELF.

  19. The People Had Enough says:

    SPANGLISH PEOPLE LIKE YOU SHOULD BE !@#$%^& SHOT ON SITE, YOU TREACHEROUS, POMPOUS PRICK. ITS PEOPLE LIKE YOU THAT IS WHAT IS WRONG WITH THIS COUNTRY, CRITICIZE AND LOWER RATE BELIZEANS WHO HAVE THE COURAGE TO STAND UP FOR SOMETHING/THEMSELVES AND OTHER BELIZEANS.

  20. Dvirgin says:

    the people had enough== see what i tell you about you people attitudes, you wan to kill when people passed their humble comments, you are a dictator, you stupid, hope you shot your own self, hear me, we live in a democratic country, and I am free to express my feelings, you fool.
    but i know it’s the truth that hurts> jejejejej

  21. Moses SULPH says:

    People Unity is strength, is not about Moses Sulph, join the movement or form a movement for justice that tackle the issues and we will follow…. YESSSSSSSS I am a Nationalize Belizean for those who keep saying, I am a human, that makes me a world citizen thanks.. its all about humanity
    One God
    One People
    One Love
    Moses

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