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Sep 6, 2011

BeliLeaks? U.S. Embassy WikiLeaks cables prompt response from Leader of Opposition

John Briceño

Last Friday we first exposed information on Belize coming from WikiLeaks, an organization that publishes private, secret, and classified data from anonymous news sources, news leaks, and whistleblowers. It claims to have more than a million documents from the first year it was launched in 2006.  An encrypted version of WikiLeaks’ archive of U.S. State Department cables had been available online via bit torrent for months, but the decryption key was difficult to find. But on September first 2011, the decryption key became available and an onslaught of comments from ambassadors to the U.S. state department and confidential files went public. Included are summaries of news events and opinions by former U.S. Ambassador Robert J. Dieter on a wide array of topics including an allegation that during the last People’s United Party Government tenure, former Minister of Natural Resources, John Briceño, received bribes for awarding drilling and exploration contracts. The allegations had been aired in 2007, but the wikicables on Belize have given them new wings. News Five spoke to Briceño who denied them once more.

Jose Sanchez

“The allegations, I guess the big one is about you received a bribe to give an oil contract and that’s how you got a cable company.”

John Briceño, Leader of the Opposition

“First of all we need to point out that one it’s an allegation. There is absolutely not one shred of evidence to point out that there is any truth to that. What is important to point out, the Government of Belize made a policy of trying to get Belizean investors involved in the oil industry. Like Lagoon Resources, there was another Belizean company that applied for the same area—there were several companies and the Belizean company put the best deal possible and that is why the recommendation was made to the cabinet to give it to the Belizean company as opposed to Lagoon Resources. As to the allegations about trying to make a connection between the bribe and the buying of cable companies that my family owns, I want to make it absolutely clear that that is not true. Presently anybody can check at the bank and see that we made some substantial loans and we continue to make some huge payments every month to try to clear off our obligations to the bank.”

Jose Sanchez

Just for clarity sake, no Lagoon Resources company gave you or family members one point five million US dollars or any dollars for that point?

John Briceño

“Absolutely not. And there is not a single individual in Belize or outside of Belize that can come with a shred of evidence to say that me or any member of my family have benefited from the decisions that I have made as the minister of natural resources including the department of petroleum.”

Jose Sanchez

“Now has Lagoon come to say it will take you to Court or anything of that matter to show that there is any legal ramifications—anythign that came after this happen?”

John Briceño

“Well that is precisely the point. If they had any evidence that I did any wrongdoing, they could have taken me to court; but they have not—they chose not to. They were upset that their application was not accepted. But as I have pointed out earlier, the process that we did was that the recommendations come from the department of geology; it comes to my ministry and then as the minister I forward it to the cabinet. That has always been the process—it was an open and transparent process that we followed during my tenure as minister of natural resources.”

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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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3 Responses for “BeliLeaks? U.S. Embassy WikiLeaks cables prompt response from Leader of Opposition”

  1. BZNinCALI says:

    What does open & transparent really mean to a politician?

  2. Refinery says:

    Noow… Unuh want lef Barrow fuh dis one????

  3. Earl Grey says:

    I LOVE WIKILEAKS……….everybody is UNDER THE MICROSCOPE.

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