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Feb 29, 2012

San Pedranos vote against Offshore Drilling

The People’s Referendum on off shore drilling is being held today countrywide. From all accounts voting has been steady all day and the organizers, the Coalition to Save our Natural Heritage, say they are satisfied with the turnout.  OCEANA, which is at the frontlines, collected twenty thousand signatures last year, eight thousand were rejected, thus today’s mock referendum.  The Coalition had hoped to match the twenty thousand figure, but it appears that may be surpassed for the poll that is not binding. Offshore drilling is an issue involving many factors. In San Pedro AC, tourism drives the economy, so the referendum has immense importance.  Over seven thousand voters are registered in Belize Rural South; most live on the island. News Five’s Jose Sanchez reports.

Jose Sanchez, Reporting

Primarily overnight tourists stoke the service sector on Ambergris Caye.   San Pedro then is the home to many people that depend on the sustainable development of the tourism industry. And so the issue of offshore drilling and exploration is being voiced in the Central Park of town.

Elito Arceo

Elito Arceo, Team Leader, Peoples Referendum

“We arrived at about five this morning. The voting started at six and we’ve had a steady stream of people throughout the whole day and that is very, very good. As you can tell, everybody here is volunteering of their time. People are coming on their own which is tremendous for us. It is nice seeing the people come out and vote. We’ve had a very short time to put this out to the people that this is actually happening. I think in this division alone is close or over seven thousand voters. That’s a lot of people but in San Pedro itself, it is six thousand. If it was up to me, I woulda get everybody to come. So we are hoping for a nice eighty-seventy percent of the voting population to come out and up to now, close to twelve o’clock; fifteen hundred, two thousand voters we’ve had come out. But that is just a rough estimate and we have not counted it. So we can guide ourselves to what is happening which is very good.”

Patty Arceo

Patty Arceo, P.U.P. Standard Bearer, Rural South

“The Belize Barrier reef that is why people come here in our country Belize; one of the main reasons. Now here in San Pedro everything that we do is about the sea. We started with the fishing industry, then the tourism industry and everything focuses around the reed. Just in San Pedro alone, we have about thirteen diving spots: we have Hol Chan, Rocky Point, Mexico Rocks—these are some of the best snorkeling areas plus shark and sting ray alley. So everything that we do here in relation to tourism in San Pedro—about ninety-nine percent—it does has to do with the Belize barrier reef.”

Jose Sanchez

“Why is it important for you to be a part of this exercise?

James Medwood, San Pedro Resident

James Medwood

“Because I don’t think it is a good idea. And I think that it will wreck our tourism business and I don’t think that would work in Belize.”

Jose Sanchez

“James what do you do out here in San Pedro?”

James Medwood

“I’m an artist.”

Jose Sanchez

“So no reef, no tourist.”

James Medwood

“Yes it will slow me down. So I don’t think that would work out here. in the mainland maybe that will work but not out here.”

Dale Wallace

Dale Wallace, San Pedro Resident

“I’m a musician and I’ve been playing for most of my life and my income depends on tourism and tourism depends on the reef. If this oil drilling happens; if there is any spill like what happened in the Gulf or other places of the world, it would be really drastic and bad for our country. If there was an oil spill out in the front of our ocean, I would say it would at least two hundred years to recover from it.  What would happen to our future, to our future kids, will they have any future in the country? We depend on the reef and the reef depends on us to take care of it. And I just hope that everybody comes out and votes today and we gotta fight against this; it is not healthy for our country. It is definitely gonna make a bad impact on our country if this happens.”

The Ofarrell’s sums it up. The beauty and life of the reef compelled them to leave North America to call Belize home.

Marty Ofarrell, San Pedro Resident

Marty Ofarrell

“We live here because of the reef. It is what brought us here and the Caribbean Sea. That’s why we live here. Any possibility of soiling it or spoiling it is bad for us is bad for the country.”

Carrie Ofarrell, San Pedro Resident

“I agree he said it all.”

Jose Sanchez

“I’m assuming then you voted no.”

Carrie Ofarrell

Carrie Ofarrell

“We voted no.”

Jose Sanchez

“There is a bigger issue in t at even if the country would say no to offshore drilling, you still have Honduras, you have Mexico—if they would have a spill we would still be affected. So some people would say let’s just make the money; if there is a spill there is going to be a spill.”

Carrie Ofarrell

“I disagree. I mean somebody has got to put their foot down. Why not make it Belize.”

Marty Ofarrell

“Yeah that is exactly what I think too. Somebody has to lead the way and set the example. And we have the major part of the reef here too, so there is no reason in the world why that shouldn’t be us here in Belize too to actually say no and have it work.”

The steady stream of voters continued throughout the day. Reporting for News Five, Jose Sanchez.

The actual results of how many people participated will be released this Thursday.

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8 Responses for “San Pedranos vote against Offshore Drilling”

  1. Sniper says:

    Wake up people … it’s 20 billion US if there’s a spill. Plus they clean it up. Do your math before you vote.

  2. Eye In The Sky says:

    I vote YES drill for oil.
    Belize and its people are Poor. We need the Oil Money. Do you see any poor Arabs . . NO.
    And they still have more tourism and better hotels than in all of Belize.
    They drilled for oil and now are all millionairs and billionairs. They have beautiful cities, houses, cars, and cash in the bank. They have the best medical, education, lifestyle for FREE . . BECAUSE they drilled for OIL and FOUND OIL.
    Belize need to put up oil wells everywhere so everyone in Belize can Finally Live the Life They Deserve.

  3. rod says:

    if you want more of the same murders and corruption please vote fu bald head barrow

  4. now i see says:

    I agree with drilling. I think only white people are brain washing the Belizean to go agains it.That will bring more jobs to our young generation and i dont think that they will be careless about poluting the water.Lets think positive.Dont let them tell you that we wont have any fish.The ex pats are ok. They allready made their money and now reseving a good check maybe from retirement or insuranse fraud.Think about it.

  5. OriginalWoman says:

    No drilling!!! Protect our “Jewel”!!!! It is better to be safe than sorry!! Belize is not ready and equipped to handle the problems we would face if there is an accident and the oil spills, the 20 billion US will not be enough to clean up the damage!!! And the US knows this!!! Don’t sellout for $$$$, PRESERVE the LAND!!!…..As for “POOR ARABS”….. Yes, indeed there are many POOR ARABS, in their countries and abroard looking for a better life the comes with improved income.

  6. ????????????? says:

    I agree that there shall not be oil drilling in Belize, if there is a oil spill it will damage our fragile eco system permanently. Special things cannot be restored by money…..in this case, beautiful life in the barrier reef WILL DIE IF THIS HAPPENS………

  7. Eye In The Sky says:

    The poor Arabs are in war torn countries like Lebanon, Jordan and so on where there is killing on the streets like Belize. The Arabs with Oil are in Dubai, Abu Dabi, Saudi Arabia and so on. They are not leaving their paradise in the desert anytime. They can afford and have everything and more than most people will ever have. Why? because they drilled for oil and now are rich.
    I agree with “now I see” the ones who are stirring the pot of trouble against drilling for oil are the expats who are hiding in Belize from Uncle Sam the Tax Man. They already have their disability checks, and retirement income and do not care if Belizeans are poor.

  8. lino says:

    More oil found means lower prices for oil companies-so they Pay Ocana to stop our supply which is cheaper for them as long as less oil supply. Drill away-when there eal time comes to vote-they will see we who care will come out and vote YES-we far outnumber 30000.

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