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Feb 28, 2013

Oceana wants offshore referendum on October ballot

Audrey Matura-Shepherd

A year ago on March second, the Coalition to Save Our Natural Heritage along with other environmental groups stood together to collect signatures that would advance a Referendum on the question of offshore drilling. Twenty nine thousand two hundred and eighty Belizeans participated in the drive and ninety six percent voted no. However, after the signatures were handed over to the Elections and Boundaries Department which rejected eight thousand and forty seven signatures. And though the Referendum drive failed, Oceana Belize continues the fight in court. But on the anniversary which was celebrated today, you may have seen many people on the street wearing blue and green as part of the recognition of the effort. However it doesn’t end there, Audrey Matura Shepherd, Oceana’s Vice President for Belize, says that they want the government to include the offshore drilling question added to the October sixth countrywide International Court of Justice Referendum.

 

Audrey Matura-Shepherd, V.P., Oceana Belize

“We have attempted to have the people’s say in a referendum already and it was quashed. As a matter of fact, propagandists for the government were saying that it was an exercise in futility. And it is such ironic statement that they would say that because now they are asking the entire nation to get involved in a process that is a referendum which is brought about by the Referendum Act. So it is a good time to reflect on what it means to be involved in a referendum. Also as we celebrate the anniversary, we cannot help but to thank all those volunteers. We had like five hundred and eighty-four people who came out and volunteered their time throughout the day. And we had over twenty-nine thousand Belizeans, registered voters, who came out to the poll and went to vote and cast their ballot and ninety-six percent said they don’t want offshore drilling. So the second main issue is that as we go forward and we say that we will take the issue of the Belize/Guatemala Dispute to referendum, as a people, we must demand from our government to all put the question of offshore oil drilling on that referendum because still have a right to say. The government does not have no legitimate mandate from the population that they want offshore drilling to occur.”

 

Jose Sanchez

“But can Oceana piggyback on to that October referendum? Is it even possible?”

 

Audrey Matura-Shepherd

“Of course it is possible and it is not so much Oceana; remember it is an initiative along with the coalition, but the entire nation. There is nothing that says that that is a special referendum [and] you can’t put anything else in it. if you look at the Referendum Act, it doesn’t make reference that you can only have one issue on the ballot at a time. It says nothing that you can’t mix the Belize/Guatemala Dispute Proposed Settlement with any other issue. And remember, one of the things that the government always said is that they are worried about money. But we understand that nine million dollars is being pumped into this referendum in terms of education and actual implementation. So then money shouldn’t be an issue. The issue of offshore oil is as much an important issue as the one of the Belize/Guatemala Dispute because you have to notice that one of the areas that the Guatemalans want is the southern waters of Belize; one of the most productive areas in terms of our fishing industry. They claim that there may be oil there. And so the rest of Belize can say we don’t want any oil drilling. And the Guatemalans, if it gets into their hands, they will say well we will do with it as we please. So it’s wrapped up and people need to see that. The same way they are asking them to make a decision on one issue, it goes hand in hand with the other issue because they are tied in. once the Guatemalans get their hands on our territory, if that could ever happen, then it means that it is free game for them. They can do whatever they want.  I reminded you of what the Prime Minister said in terms of it was a hell of a turn out. But in that same interview he said that he was prepared to make sure that his administration would sponsor the referendum provided that cabinet gave its sanction. And everybody knows that he rules supreme over cabinet. And that it can be done after there has been full throttle debate on the issue. Well we’ve never stopped the other side from having the debate and the government has always defended their position and we respect their position, but nothing has happened to say the other side should be shut up; we don’t even have the power to stop them. They have far more money than we do. He said that it would come about at the appropriate time and we think the appropriate time is now.”

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6 Responses for “Oceana wants offshore referendum on October ballot”

  1. melinda says:

    Why does this woman continue harrassing belize with her foreign agenda? go to mexico and try that foolishness about not drilling in the ocean and you will see how they string up your bottom and lock u up. Only in belize we tolerate this interference. Belizeans do not want anything to be linked to the ICJ issue.

  2. Belizean says:

    ITS A DISTRACTION!!! I wish this lady would just get out of the picture!!! This whole thing is such a nuisance. Come on, countries that do offshore drilling get real rich..Oh yes, we need to be careful we dont damage anything..However, we are not living in the 1950′s in which time, there were many accidents compared to today..Get over it Miss Shepard, its over for you..youve had your share of attention!

  3. javier says:

    Tired of hearing of the offshore protest. We dont want this Oceana thing interfering in our future. The gautemala claim is far more important than this stupidness being whipped by this lady who is fighting against the interests of belizeans for a foreign group of rich people who feel guilty of having raped the earth to get rich now they want to protect my country so they can buy it off.

  4. javier says:

    Give it a rest Matura. YOur time is passed and we are now getting fed up with this oceana thing. leave my country alone, we know what we are doing.

  5. Princess Meadows says:

    Get lost Audrey, I know you have to talk, but stop being monotonous, what you need to talk about is your palace, that big mansion and the amount of money you are raking in every month. What you should be doing is advocating for the less unfortunate.

  6. PROUD BELIZEAN says:

    Agreed. We don’t need an international organization dictating what happens in Belize. Belize is for Belizeans

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