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Sep 26, 2014

Minister of Labour on CIBC FirstCaribbean Issue

Godwin Hulse

There was a firestorm against the CIBC FirstCaribbean Bank weeks ago when a Dangriga employee was prevented from speaking in her native tongue. Minister Godwin Hulse today provided his own perspective on the bank’s policy imposed on former employee, Uwahnie Martinez, preventing her from interacting with customers in Garifuna.  The Labour Minister says that he was kept abreast of the developments by the Christian Workers Union. According to Hulse, Belizeans should be free to speak in their native language.


Godwin Hulse, Minister of Labour

“My simple unequivocal position is that Belize is a multilingual, multiracial society. We do business and commerce in the English language, but when we deal with our people, we are all free to discourse in the language we are most comfortable with and should be free and nobody should impose any impediment. I will be clear that some years ago, the honorable Michael Finnegan was speaking in the national assembly and I will not dare to suggest the person on the opposition side or on the government side at the time, who said he should speak in the English language because that is the standing order. Yes that is the standing order, I think number seven, and it was put in 1963 when the British was here. But I enjoy talking to you in Creole and that’s my mother tongue and nobody gonna get me not to talk in Creole because it is the one I understand best and express myself best. And if Garifuna was my language that’s what I would do; if it was Maya Mopan or Ketchi that’s what I would do and any other language. Now when we are dealing at the official level and signing documents and making official statements, yes we have to do it in the language or commerce, etcetera. But in the ordinary day to day interaction, I don’t see any reason why any institution should forbid that. I will say though that before you were born, back in 1964, when I worked in the Royal Bank of Canada, we were forbidden to speak anything but the English language. Those were the good old colonial days, part of what I fought against to help to bring us to independence. So I am not going to support or countenance any nonsense when it comes to people’s race, creed, ethnicity, religion or otherwise.”

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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2 Responses for “Minister of Labour on CIBC FirstCaribbean Issue”

  1. Emily says:

    Very passionate response Godwin but you need to TAKE THAT TO THE BANK! The Government should have taken the lead on this long time and not wait 1 month later to characterize Cibc bank actions as nonsense. Everybody come ya da Belize and du wi weh dem want! So what next?

  2. Teddy Steinway says:

    The case suggests that the employee of the bank was in the tank. She was interested in loading the bank a PR problem on her way out. It was a brilliant strategy to use the the pretext of language rights as a lightening rod for the “victimhood advocates” in
    Obviously the insulated political class in the City don’t have a clue about the details.

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