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May 31, 2011

Before referendum, Oceana says government on propaganda trail

Audrey Matura-Shepherd

The signature collection victory is only one hurdle facing the environmentalists. Apparently, the Prime Minister recently made comments on a government program, which has Oceana Belize’s Vice president steaming. According to Audrey Matura Shepherd, the P.M. is calling for the public to support drilling in any part of the country with a promise to make legislative changes to protect the environment later on. Matura Shepherd calls the promise government propaganda and says it is in bad faith.

Audrey Matura-Shepherd, V.P., Oceana Belize

“On the Prime Minister report, he took the opportunity to make a very profound statement—I don’t know if people saw it or understood the implication of it. But basically what is the government’s position which is presented by the Prime Minister is that they are telling people that when the referendum does come into effect, we want you to go and vote in favor of the government’s position which is that there should be drilling both offshore and in all protected areas—basically throughout Belize because we were only excluding those and the rest of the country was still available. So basically the government is saying let there be drilling everywhere: land and in sea, everywhere, with the proper regulatory and legislative framework in place. That sounds good. And why is it that I say that sounds good is because that is for me what I call propaganda. The reality is if any government is serious about making these legislative changes, there are some basic things that need to be done and while Oceana has been quite as to some of the response we’ve been getting from government, I think the time has come that we need to reveal certain things to people. First; if there is to be genuine revision and then subsequent adaptation of new provisions in the petroleum act, the consultation process has to start. And it has to start with people who have an interest and that doesn’t mean only the N.G.O. community, but community at large and that has not happened yet. So that’s step number 1. Step number two; Oceana has kept reaching out to the government with the hope that we’ll be able to start that process with them. For example we’ve written the most recent letter to the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister asking them to form a team so that we can start talking about the issue of offshore oil. We have not gotten a response to that. Third; we did sent a letter to Prime Minister asking if Doctor Daniel Pauly, when he is in the country, could have a private presentation with Cabinet because we have been asking to present to Cabinet so that they can hear more about the issues. It’s not all environment—it has to do with policy, legislative, the science that they don’t know, the whole economics as we see it. Well I got a letter from the Prime Minister saying that we welcome the written, but we cannot make ourselves available for that dialogue. To me that shows bad faith. To me you cannot say you want legislative change and you don’t do anything to that effect. And then fourth; we’ve written several letters to petroleum and geology department requesting information so that we can use it with formulating the proposal we want to present to government because while government is not working yet on this revision we know that it is something that is long overdue. But of course we are a stalled when government doesn’t want to give us key information that is from the technical people. And the technical people only so be brave and obnoxious in their response to us or ignore our request if they have their back as you would say by the higher officials. So now to go to the Belizean public and say you should vote this way providing that this is in place to me is duplicitous. Because what I have to say to the Belizean people is that you should say to the Prime Minister, okay let’s put those measures in places and once we know it’s in place, it’s easier for us to have a say as to how to vote. Don’t be tricked again by any government.”

Matura Shepherd says the Coalition’s campaign on oil drilling will continue.

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12 Responses for “Before referendum, Oceana says government on propaganda trail”

  1. Maverick says:

    Ok, this is the height of facyness. Ocean can do all the anti-drilling public propaganda they want, but the Government cannot make policy statements??? We are a small country with bountiful natural resources, and limited revenue, and we are being hamstrung from turning our resources into benefits for our poor population by foreign money lobby, coming from countries that are already rich from using their natural resources. It is unfair for us to be manipulated in this way. The day Oceana gives me an alternative to provide revenues to lead to economic prosperity to our people that is the day I start listening to them.

  2. Revolution says:

    WTF? Seriously, did anything this woman just said made any sense? Audrey, you are starting to sound like Geovanni Brackett now. Spewiing garbabe with a capital G. Get a life please. Even Author Saldivar sound smarter than you now.

  3. Truth says:

    Belizeans open your eyes,we always get good news from the government with no risk or environmental set back it might have, good news just like every convention, promises and more promises but still Belize is in the same state with little improvements. Transportation is already suck, we’re all like cage pigs in buses, no sense of comfort, we already seen the damages that have been done in the gulf bcas of oil spill that awhile back but still health hazard are taken into consideration. Many creature have been destroy and only upgrading pollution to another level, Germany is actually planning on banning nuclear plant program in the 2020, and rely on natural means of keepin the country running. Technical experts will never give the risk about offshore drilling and even if they do it, the technical terms they use would be so pretentiously difficult for the public to understand but what good have the government have been doing, both past and present. Musa made deals to make himself a rich man now Dean is making decision regarding the science, and harm it might cause to Belize which so bless by nature, pure ignorance but do make the people no Ms.Matura only hope that ur voice doesnt end up like Moses Sulph case. these guys tend to destroy people that stop their progress but believe me when drilling do happenin, the government is only goin to sign a deal of making 24% of the oil earnings, bunch imbociles…

  4. somiah says:

    I am so tired of Foreigners coming to Belize and telling us what to do and trying to control us with the aid they give to us….. I thought we are an Independent Nation, what happen our people are not intelligent enough to figure things out? I guess when we have people like Audry who think that we are not capable or able to Govern ourselves….

    Just got back from Monroe La where I saw all these young Belizeans (3 ) getting Masters,and staying for Doctorate.. Makes me proud, this is going on all over, young Belizeans are getting educated and will return home to run their country. Their will be many Patrick Fabers and it is only then will the future of the country be more hopeful, until then, it is politics as usual, people looking out for themselves… We got to keep hope alive, which is confident expectation….

    God have provided us all the natural resources we need for life, and that includes oil… WE ARE TRULY BLESSED!

  5. O. Walk observer says:

    I support these two guys opinion to some extent; no outside group is supposed to be alloweded to dictate how you run your country or use your natural resources. It just pisses me off how all of a sudden they are concerned about the environment, after THEY have exploited the one from their country eg. Amazon, barrier reef etc. BUT our government also has the duty to ensure that what it gets from our natural resource is the fair amount ie. we should be getting the bigger share of the pie. At the moment our share is rediculous; gas price is so high, taxes are heavy, inflation is sky high, unemployment at 23% of work force and the list of negatives can go on and on! It does not add up, bad management?? poor decisions……….

  6. Belize says:

    Audrey better make sure she is taking good account of all the money OCEANA is spending here in Belize. I give Oceana another year here and after that they are gone.

  7. ang says:

    Whether we drill or not the people as majority need to decide and that is what the people want for the ordinary citizen to vote, but they have to be given real statistical info access as to topography, contracts, etc…why? because…so they know how much of our land has been pledged away…in truth Belizeans don’t care about foreign advice, we can make up our own minds, but the minute they short us of info then that is a fragile issue…fool monky dih talk but tha dah no fool monky dih hear…lol

  8. Fairman says:

    For those who are supporting Dean Barrow and his brother for black gold, we the Belizean people have never benefited from oil extraction in Belize. They are pretending not to know or simply ignorant. The prices of goods, including fuel, continues to rise because the government needs more money to run the government. The oil money is going into the rich private bank accounts. Gasper Vega went to the Toledo District to tell the people there that oil extraction cause no harm because the minonites want to drill for more oil in their area. What he deliberately did not tell the people of Toledo is that the minonites want to drill for more oil because they are getting a percentage of the proceeds. He has no plan to let the Belizeans benefit from oil that is why he is hiding that fact from the people of Toledo.
    It has always been the rich foreigners and the politicians in Belize that set up themselves to benefit from everything at the expense of the poor Belizeans…………….
    This part is for “Somia” above: I would like to see Belizeans making wise decisions for us but that has never happened and there is no indication it will happen any time soon. Look at Dean Barrow’s plans. Because he is lacking in self confidence and unable to make constructive decisions, he is looking for the crime solutions outside of Belize including Jamaica where the crime situation is worst than here, while the solution is right here under our nose: Home discipline and economic reform.
    Look at his intention to import a foreigner for the political post of Commissioner of Police when there are many high ranking police officers in Belmopan who are capable of following political instructions. The post is just a link between the police department and the politicians in power – nothing highly technical or highly academic. Check Crispin Jefferies’ background.
    Dean Barrow has no self confidence and no confidence in the Belizean people who support him.

  9. Sugar says:

    If she would only spend half of that time to go report the accident to the insurance people,maybe the person can get his vehicle repaired. I would not support anything she involved with simply because of her ignorance and arrogance. Seems like she and somebody at the insurance in collusion…..

  10. trikz says:

    Oil Drilling can make us a better economy…I have no problem with that…But we don not need to drill in the protected areas… many of us Belizeans may not know that the amount of protected areas we have in Belize have been providing millions of dollars to our economy..just the specie of spiny lobsters have brought in around 12 million dollars per year…our mangroves are worth about 175 millions dollars in coastline protection and many other things… so we must be wise to the conditions we vote for..we all want and need good development..but I personally think we should make provisions for our protected areas because they are providing far more than the Governemnt would admit!

  11. MP says:

    These comments make me sad to be a Belizean. It seems that public ignorance abounds in Belize. Belizeans sway in favor of the government as soon as they hear money. Yes, Belize is in need of economic reform and yes, there is high unemployment, but drilling is something that needs to be properly regulated. Who is conducting the environmental impact assessments? We forget that the ecosystem services that our natural resources provide are incalculable and irreplaceable. Without these, we would not have clean air, water and countless other resources. YOU MUST REALIZE THAT MONEY TODAY does NOT mean money TOMORROW. If we exploit our resources, we could diminish them to a point where it becomes unsustainable. If you have no barrier reef or forest resources, you have NO INCOME. We should be all about conserving our natural resources and looking for alternative sources of energy…..Moreover, if there is an accident or major oil spill, Belize is in no position to fix the problem…..It is very sad to see that Belizeans are anti-environment and anti OCEANA….It just goes to prove the level of ignorance that abounds. People are so easily bought in by the propaganda that is spewed by this government.

  12. Farmer Giles says:

    Really Audrey? You are not making sense. Firstly you have said that you oppose all oil drilling in Belize. You have had a road show going around telling things that are not entirely true about the oil industry. You have exaggerated the dangers and minimised the huge amount of money that oil exploration and production has already made for Belize.
    And then you state that you want information from the Geology department because you don’t know what you are talking about? And you get upset when the government and the geology department don’t want to talk to you any more because first you declare they are your sworn enemy?

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