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Feb 3, 2012

Oceana defends Offshore Referendum

Audrey Matura Shepherd

The other big news this week was the rejection of signatures collected by the Coalition to Save Our Natural Heritage for an oil referendum. On Thursday News Five spoke to Oceana’s Vice-President for Belize, Audrey Matura Shepherd about the rejection of eight thousand signatures that were needed to push the referendum on offshore drilling.  Shepherd says that the voters should have been contacted by the Elections and Boundaries Department to verify that they have signed the documents, however, that was not done. And the public servants that examined and rejected the signatures are not handwriting experts. Matura Shepherd also says that the comments being made by the ruling party on the airwaves are close to defamatory and if it continues, it could lead to legal action.

Via Phone: Audrey Matura Shepherd, VP Oceana Belize

“I don’t know what they are saying, but I would hope that they are not saying it is fraudulent because then we would have to take them to court because to say that is really then a form of defamation. And absolutely no one in coalition; no one of the members, no one of the organization—definitely not Oceana—ever did anything that would amount to any fraud. As a matter of fact because we didn’t want people to create any mischief, we created three layers of vetting and going to the elections and boundaries being the final layer because we would never ever want to engage a process and allow anything improper to happen; that is not our objective. Then we would be defeating the whole objective of being a democratic process. We don’t believe in stealing elections or undermining process; no absolutely not our style. So they better be very careful with what they are saying. It is their obligations to yes check and we are prepared to see who these signatories are and go visit the people themselves. We may need affidavits from them; declarations from them because our intention has always been to make it be a people’s movement. To get people engaged, to get people to sign the petition. And remember a lot of those people who signed the petition do not necessarily are all saying they want offshore drilling. Some of the people that I know I spoke to personally and got signatures from were people who had their own view in the opposite direction than mine. But what we told them was look, it is a democratic process—on Election Day you can go and vote no or vote yes. We’re not telling you how to vote. We declared our position, but you have that freedom to vote a particular way as you wish to, but the referendum would make it a legitimate, an official way for government to know that this is the voice of the people. And that’s all we wanted; a democratic process so that people have a say. I am amazed that the government has found it necessary now to step in and have all these negative thing to say when if they truly wanted to hear from the people, there is a legal option for them to get it from the people.  But I think at the end of the day Jose, people need to step back and look at what’s happening: they never wanted to engage in the process, they’ve done everything to undermine the process, there was an olive branch extended to them to engage in the format that they could in the process and they have not done so. And why? Because what is critical is that we asked that this referendum be held on seventh of March that is municipal election. They’ve announced it as national elections. I don’t think that this government wants to take the chance to make us have something legitimate happen. And that is why I am not surprise to see that they have hijacked the process now and suddenly elections and boundaries is becoming spokesperson or the government becoming spokesperson when if you look at the referendum act, we’ve done everything through the governor General. And so we’ve written the Governor General Again because we will not undermine any process.”

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3 Responses for “Oceana defends Offshore Referendum”

  1. Oceana says:

    Audrey the money will soon finish from Oceana and then you will be gone with the wave.

  2. Tanya says:

    Thanks Audrey, for standing up for us. It might take time but we will see this referendum come to pass.

  3. drose flowers says:

    THE ONLY WAY AUDREY CAN PROOF THAT THE SIGNATURES WERE LEGAL IF SHE WAS PRESENT WHEN THOSE PEOPLE SIGN OR NEVER SIGN.
    OCEANA IS A BIG FAKE AND AUDREY IS JUST LIKE LISA SHOMAN, MONEY SPEAKS, THEY DO EVERYTHING FOR MONEY.
    WHY DON’T AUDREY AND LIZA GET PETITION SIGN TO HAVE THOSE RAPIST AND MURDERES HANG?????

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