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Oct 31, 2011

San Pedro residents protest construction

At noon today, a demonstration was held in San Pedro where Mayor Elsa Paz is adamant about the construction of a town clock. Many are not totally against the mayor’s project, but a clock in the middle of the road in the congested down town area, has many furious including the business community, the BTIA and Belize Water Services.  No less than the San Pedro Sun, the island’s newspaper, organized the protest which didn’t have the numbers that would make the mayor blink. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

The construction of a town clock which, when completed, will also double as a community information device in the center of Barrier Reef Drive near downtown San Pedro is the subject of contention for residents and business owners on the island.  The project is the brainchild of Mayor Elsa Paz and Richard Headrick of Ramon’s Village Resort.  While the idea of a town clock is well received protestors who converged on the proposed site this afternoon are up in arms over its location.

Mukul Kanabar, BTIA President, San Pedro Chapter

“There are many reasons people have sided for being against this.  The reasons most often cited are one: no public consultations was held, two: the location in the middle of the busiest street in town.”

Mukul Kanabar is the president of the local chapter of BTIA in San Pedro.  He, like many others, vehemently opposes the erection of the town clock here.  On the ground is a gaping hole surrounded by construction material, as well as several concrete beams cordoned off by strips of caution tape.  Today residents have gathered by the dozens, placards in hand, to voice their discontent.

Protestor

“The mayor without consultation with the constituency of San Pedro or elsewhere in Belize has given prime real estate in front of Central Park to be used for the purpose of advertising for one privately held US Company.  That company is Headrick’s and they own a sign company and so the concern is not so much that they’re donating the clock but that number one the mayor said that the clock was donated with stipulation that it be placed in the middle of the street.  I find that to be a reprehensible, dictatorial stance for somebody in politics to take without consulting the constituency.”

The proposed structure, once completed, will cost a hundred and fifty thousand dollars.  It will be the second of two advertising jumbotrons in town, similar to one adjacent to the airstrip. According to Mayor Elsa Paz, during an appearance on Reef TV this morning, she is not prepared to listen to a minority that is against the project.

Elsa Paz

Elsa Paz, Mayor, San Pedro Town

“I would not listen to a small group.  As I said we are six thousand, more than six thousand voters and out of that Aiden three thousand would go and cast their votes.  So I would like to see a demonstration.  If I see a demonstration of one thousand five hundred voters which is fifty percent of San Pedro going out on that demonstration today I will say okay we need to listen to the people.  We need to listen to the people and do what they want [us] to do.”

Despite the fact that there was considerably less than fifteen hundred protestors in the heart of town at midday a petition has been launched to garner that total in signatures.  Among the many concerns shared is the lack of egress on either side of the structure to allow for the passage of large vehicles, specifically in the case of an emergency.

Patty Arceo

Patty Arceo, Former Area Representative

“The mayor, she is stating that there is enough drive space on both sides and as you all could see there’s not enough drive space right here.  But I think she’s following [in] the [foot]steps of the mayor from Belize City putting signs all over the place.  I mean people have the right to put [up] there signs but it’s where you put it Location! Location! Location!”

The construction site, News Five understands, sits atop a water main and Belize Water Services Ltd. has equally objected to the town clock being placed here.

Mukul Kanabar

Mukul Kanabar

“We have heard those same reports as have we heard concerns about whether or not fire and other emergency vehicles, personnel will be able to traverse this street once the structure is completed.  As you can see it leaves very little room here.”

Paz maintains that the controversy surrounding the project is non-political.

Elsa Paz

“A lot of times people take these projects as a political issue which is wrong, you know, because politics will always be here but this is not a political issue.  This is a community project and I am here to listen, to listen to all the comments.”

In a letter written by Richard Headrick to Mukul Kanabar he insists that; “the electronic portion of the clock tower will be to provide the current temperature and public service announcements, special events and festivals that take place in San Pedro.” Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

Construction began a week ago and the town clock is expected to be completed in six weeks.

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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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18 Responses for “San Pedro residents protest construction”

  1. Joe McGuire says:

    What a waste of time the news should not even waste their time paying attention to these white people!

    Look at the picture then go to http://www.ambergristoday.com look at all the pictures and the video, 95% of the protesters are foreigners living on the island.

    The other 5% are well known PUP supporters such as Milo Paz and Patty Arceo.

    The gringos are trying to make Belize into what they want, not what Belizeans want, don’t let them brain wash the San Pedranos any longer!

  2. check it out says:

    A Clock for one hundred and fifty thousand dollars, please man!! Belize must be the only country the world wasting money on public clocks in 2011. watch makers, like cameras, like calculators are all becoming obsolete because of the cellphone which has all these functions bulit in. San Pedro needs more policemen, needs a hurricane or weather radar equipment, needs proper buoys to designate swimming and snorkeling areas for tourist. we don’t need more tourists loosing a leg while snorkeling. If someone wants to donate money the City Council should say these are our priorities, but not a clock! please, SHAME ON YOU SAN PEDRANOS, thouhgt tou were brighter!!!

  3. Lara Goldman says:

    To the racist response “Joe McGuire” left – I condsider myself as belizean as your ancestors, the “MCGUIRES” did when they first got here. i am also one of the “white people” that attended the rally. If you think this is about race, then shame on you. Take a look at the artists rendering of the clock, and come to SAN PEDRO and see for yourself why we are outraged. We are outraged because the Mayor has kept this from the PEOPLE of San Pedro, those born here and those who chose to move here. Please remove hate and race from your mind, joe, and open up your brain to THINK and LEARN…and then help us educate people on what is happening. This is no more a political issue than it is a racial issue. The Mayor of San Pedro GAVE AWAY front street to a privately held US business – and allowed them to put 4 sided, 6foot x4 foot jumbotron television screen….in the middle of the VIEW of the ocean! That Reef is why tourists come here. Tourism, whether we like it or not, is the number one future commodity of belize – banana’s, fish, and sugar cane will not sustain our growing population. With tourism comes much needed $$ to the local vendors, construction workers, farmers, fishermen, and everything else that goes into making the experience great for tourists.

    Imagine this NEON SIGN 21 foot tower smack in the Middle of XUnantunich – or the Belzie Zoo.

    Please stop making this about race. This protest was organized via the internet, and was intended to do what it did. Raise awareness. The average laborer making $50 belize a day, trying to feed and educate a family might not have had a chance to go to the local internet cafe and check their facebook to find out about it.

    And never once in any thing anyone had to say – was politics mentioned in terms of PUP and UDP. This about people CARING.

    so chill it with the racist remarks, Joe. It’s just not nice…or accurate. And certainly doesnt make your points very clear at all…… read and learn, poor joe. and THANK You for your attention – it is PRECISELY what we were trying to do.

    Lara

  4. Corozal Expat says:

    I think the Gringos in San Pedro need to get a life. I see nothing but Gringos, their slaves and some PUP’s in this article. Same for the Gringos in Corozal. I am a gringo in Corozal and have adopted my new hometown for what it is while the other Gringos in Corozal complain and gripe about everything and make life miserable for the Corozal Belizeans. Hey the Belizeans do not go to the USA or Canada and force you to their way of life, do they. When Belizeans move to North America they act like Gringos to fit in. So Get A Life You Gringos you live in Belizean Country so adapt to Belizean Life or Go Home.
    REMEMBER I Am Also A Gringo but Love Belize and do not want to make the Belizeans Slaves of Gringo Ideas.

  5. islander says:

    BUILD THE CLOCK, AND TELL RAMONS VILLAGE THAT SINCE ITS A DONATION THEY CAN STICK THEIR TWO PROMOTIONAL FLAT SCREEN TV’S WHERE THE SUN DONT SHINE….

  6. BT says:

    @joe, last time I checked no one had to get their passport stamped by the San Pedro Town council, no one had to apply for a San Pedro residency permit, no one had to take an oath to become a San Pedrano. The people who live in San Pedro are all San Pedranos regardless if they were born in San Pedro, Putnta Gorda, or Timbuktu. All residents of a community have a right to express themselves and have a say in the affairs of their village/town/city. The mayor was an @$$ for her comment about “only listening to people with voters cards”, trying to make this an “us vs. them” pissing contest instead of debating the issue on the merit of building clock tower in the middle of the road.

  7. oscar965 says:

    @ “Check it Out” – get your facts straight before you form an opinion. It was the Mayor without any consultation to any resident in San Pedro that made the decision to accept the offer from Ramons and to place the clock there. IT WAS NOT A DECISION FROM THE RESIDENTS OF SAN PEDRO…WHY DO YOU THINK THERE IS A PROTEST…and Lara is right ..this is not about belizeans versus americans or pup or udp its about being included when a mayor change to your town square is being made and the mayor seems to think that because she was elected that she can do whatever she wants without consultation…its as plane and simple as that…

  8. sofia says:

    Bravo Mayor Paz.. go for the clock. The main street needs beautification and if it can stop big truucks and slow traffic in Front street its better.. Our tourists need to walk front street without being afraid to being knocked down. It does not cost taxpayers anything so I do not see the fuzz. The gringos should have been more worried if they care for the island when the timesharing and big condos and big reall estates coming to devoour the island… Go for the clock mayor.. The people of san pedro are with you..

  9. Nikki says:

    White ppl no want clock in middle of their town…wat else is new??//

  10. think for the future says:

    I am a Belizean and Resident of San Pedro and I totally agree with Lara Goldman.
    Tourism is #1 means of income in Belize, tourist keep coming because it is a very laid back community. The clock is a good idea, however I dont think the location is good and that money could have been put to better use – Education and Health for example. The Mayor should concentrate on fixing the area of SAN MATEO. It is very sad to know that we have all this money and this could make a BIG difference in fixing this area..and instead we choose a clock which will not benefit the island in any way. THINK MAYOR, THINK PEOPLE!

  11. Joe McGuire says:

    Yes Lara Goldman because 1 little clock tower will block the entire view of the barrier reef from anyone living in San Pedro, unlike the 3 or 4 story condo you are living in that is a block long.

    … and I am not Belizean, I am American born from Atlanta and still say this is a white person thing.

    I 100% agree with the Mayor why listen to these white people that can’t even vote, if they don’t like it let ‘em go back to the US, oh wait they can’t there in Belize hiding from the US authorities.

  12. belizeanpride says:

    is this a political issue or a residents concern? every opposed project or problem parties are involve making it hard to understand if it’s political now or if it’s a real situation that affects the community in a whole.

  13. Elgin Martinez says:

    These stupis @ leaders can’t even pay our Teachers on time and yet they can find money to build a clock that won’t bring any type of revenue to La Isla Bonita.

  14. old timer says:

    I heard this same joke about the Mallantee Village, but this was fifty years ago. the joke is now on the San Pedranos for building a big clock right in the middle of front street!!!

  15. islandboy says:

    just do it

  16. Earl Grey says:

    TOURIST DO NOT WANT TO BE REMINDED OF TIME………….
    that is what they/we try to escape from for a few days. WE TRY TO ESCAPE TECHNOLOGY…thank you.

    And HAVING A JUMBO TV in the center of town like TIMES SQUARE…
    we now understand why most prices are in USD!!!

  17. White person in Isla Bonita says:

    Dear Joe
    Are you a Belize citizen who has had the privilege of living and working in the US? If so, I would gesture that you have benefited from living in the US. Or perhaps you are a US born citizen living in Belize? Why are you here? In any case, I seriously doubt anyone is stupid enough to try to hide in San Pedro these days.

    Let me qualify myself. I am a WHITE FEMALE FROM ATLANTA NO CRIMINAL RECORD NOT HIDING with Belize residency. Are you seriously playing the black / white card? Get over yourself and go back to ATL already!

    To all others: I am thinking there are more important issues in this community (not necessarily in the order of importance), children not going to school for whatever reason, crime/ criminals from Belize City having free access to Isla Bonita (no controls or manifests on water taxis), sexual exploitation/ abuse of children, corrupt police department, and animal welfare.

    Tacky and unsafe is pretty much a way of life here…… I see MUCH bigger fish to fry (but then again, I am from Georgia)

  18. Tim Tomsonlite says:

    I am from the U.S. and don’t like everyone from the U.S. and Canada telling Belize what to do. I don’t like the save the Earth groups from the U.S. and Canada telling Belize you do this because you will damage the reef or you can’t build here it will damage this. It’s always it will “Damage This” They say over and over. Belize needs money and Oil is the key to make Belize rich. It’s not the Reef. Everyone will still come to see the reef so drill the oil don’t put anything off limits to get it out of the ground. The save the earth groups wants to keep Belize poor so they can keep telling Belize what to do.

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