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Jan 30, 2013

Numerous voices at protest on the hill

Tuesday’s demonstration staged by the B.N.T.U., the P.S.U. and the A.P.S.S.M. was a show of force. Thousands of teachers converged on the usually quiet capital city to send a message to the powers that be—they want a salary adjustment and respect. And if the government did not quite get the message from the masses that came from every part of the country, the teachers were kind enough to break it down as they marched to Independence Hill. Today, we revisit the scene of the people’s protest, and bring you some memorable moments from the ground.

 

Mike Rudon, Reporting

From the Belmopan Comprehensive School and around the Ring Road to their destination at the seat of power in front of the National Assembly, the teachers were spirited, vocal and united. They came from every corner of the nation, but spoke with one voice and sent one message. They want a raise and respect, and they are willing to go the extra mile to get it. There was significant, and some would say overwhelming Police presence, but if intimidation was the intention, it was lost on the masses.

 

Elodio Aragon Jr.

Elodio Aragon Jr., Deputy Commissioner of Police

“Well definitely we have to look at different security measures, especially for the Ministers that are in Cabinet. And I think we definitely have those measures in place. We are here likewise for the protection of everyone and that is why you see many police officers out here, especially in our uniform, to ensure that we have a peaceful demonstration.”

 

Ms. Baird, Teacher, Belize District

“What I am out here in particular is for the Minister of Education to put on the table the talks for salary adjustment so that we can reach an understanding and end this once and for all.”

 

Maria Martinez

Maria Martinez, Teacher, Benque

“My hope is that today…because they are saying that the crowd will speak in Belmopan, well we have the crowd and this is telling the Minister that he has to find some way or the other to give us something, because there is a way. When there’s a will there’s a way.”

 

Zeni Perdomo

Zeni Perdomo, Teacher, Corozal

“I think when you want to do something you find ways. There are ways they can find to give us the money. And if we get what we want, all our government workers will get. We know that there is discrimination. We know that there is victimization and that is why some people don’t want to join us, but we are fighting for them.”

 

Tremett Perriott

Tremett Perriott, Teacher, Belize City

“When they want to find the money they find it. If they can support the wrong things like paying gang members and helping them do things, we are the people of this society who are trying to do something right, trying to keep our kids off of the streets and if you support people like that who are doing nothing for the society positively, then our jobs are null and void. We deserve some respect somehow.”

 

Manuel Medina, Teacher, San Ignacio

“They have to listen to the people. I mean they were elected to do a job. And justice is justice. We cannot have the wealth of the country shared only by a few. Everybody needs.”

 

Christina Coc

Christina Coc, Maya Leaders Alliance

“I think as you have seen from the teachers’ posters they’ve made very important recommendations on how it cannot just be a NO answer. It cannot be a closed door answer. There are options. There are always options and a government can be more creative. NO is not being creative. Being able to say let us look, let us review where we are, and let us find a way to address this issue…it cannot just be no. We will not settle for that.”

 

But in the end, will the teachers and public officers have to settle for just that? U.D.P. Mayor of Belmopan and former educator Simeon Lopez says he is sure that the cries of the teachers will be heard and heeded.

 

Simeon Lopez

Simeon Lopez, Mayor of Belmopan

“I support the teachers in their negotiation process, and I met them with my Belizean flag halfway around this road and I came out here again to meet them again. I am supporting them in their negotiation process and I am sure my government will take note of this crowd. It is very impressive. It is an exclamation and it is time I think that we listen to them because if we want to continue to run this country as a government we’ve got to listen to this group now.”

 

From the Mayor’s lips to the ears of the Prime Minister and the coffers of government—if the teachers and public officers have their way. Mike Rudon for News Five.

 

As we told you earlier, a meeting has been scheduled for Friday and the audience with the leader of the country might seem an indication of flexibility to some, even though two ministers have already said that adjustments are not affordable at this time. So what will happen on Friday? Well we’ll let you know, the minute we know.

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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 “Numerous voices at protest on the hill”

  1. sexy says:

    SIMON LOPEZ I KNOW YOU WOULD WANT A RAISE OF SALARY TOO. BUT YOU ARE NOT DOING YOUR JOB AS A MAYOR!!!! LOOK AT ALL THE STREETS IN THE AREAS OF MAYA MOPAN, SALVAPAN THEM MEIN!!!! IT LOOKS REALLY BAD.!!! LIKE IF THERE IS NO MAYOR AT ALL!!! PLEASE DO SOMETHING. ALL WHAT YOU DO IS TO JUST RIDE IN YOUR VEHICLE AND THE POOR PEOPLE THE SUFFER THE WALK ON THOSE MUDDY STREETS.

    YOU SEE WHEN A TREE IS GROWN CROOKED THERE IS NO WAY WE CAN STRAIGHTEN THAT TREE. THAT IS JUST LIKE YOU!!! YOU DONT EVEN CARE WHAT WE ARE GOING THROUGH.

    YOU SEE MAYOR BRADLEY??? AM PROUD OF HIM, OH I FORGOT ……HE IS YOUNG AND HE SEES A FUTURE IN BELIZE… HE WANT A BETTERMENT FOR HIS COUNTRY …BUT YOU??? YOU DON’T DO A !@#$….

    I WOULD LIKE THE MEDIA TO GO A SEE THOSE AREAS ……. REALLY POOR…

    DO SOMETHING LOPEZ!!!! SHAME ON YOU AND TO OUR COUNTRY…..

    THE RECEIVE A SALARY FOR DOING NOTHING…..AND YET YOU WANT MORE MONEY…A SALARY INCREASE??!!!!! HMMM!!!!

  2. Al says:

    So we know that our people can get passionate about things, now let us see you get passionate about the fight on crime. I am so proud of our teachers, take a stand. The politicians pay themselves well and take whatever they want from the government money, so stand up.

  3. Bear says:

    I came back to this story because I was bothered by the comments of one teacher, Manuel Medina of Cayo. “Justice is justice. We cannot have the wealth of the country shared only by a few. Everybody needs.”

    That sounds like Marxist rhetoric, a system that has never brought prosperity to any but the politburo.

    I have no problem with people becoming rich legally — that should be the goal of everyone, to work hard, save money, and pass a better and more secure life on to their children. How is it “just” to take away what a man works hard for, to give to another who didn’t earn it?

    (Thieving politicians, on the other hand, should face terminal justice.)

    All the government should do is make sure we all have equal opportunity to learn and to work and to keep and enjoy the fruits of our efforts. Forcing equal results, taking from a working man to give to a lazy man, is unjust.

    Same with teachers, some are good and deserve good pay, some are bad and all the money in the world will not improve them, and those teachers shouldn’t receive raises. BNTU should look inward and see the problem with poor teaches, and try to find a way to solve it that is consistent with the ultimate goal of education: TEACHING THE CHILDREN WELL.

    I would be concerned if Teacher Medina is proselytizing the students in Cayo with his Marxist beliefs.

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