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May 31, 2017

Senate Committee Returns: More Muscle, More Rhetoric

Even with a week’s absence, the Senate Special Select Committee has not been absent from the news headlines. When we last left it on May seventeenth, it had descended into farce after the U.D.P. Chairman Alberto August and macebearer Brian “Yellow Man” Audinette hijacked the proceedings.  Due to reports of an attempt to spark another fight, Opposition Leader John Briceño sought a week’s postponement from Chairman Aldo Salazar to give an opportunity for things to calm down. Today, both sides put in appearances at the National Assembly in Belmopan, along with members of Citizens Organized for Liberty through Action and the Belize National Teachers’ Union as neutral observers.  The result, as Aaron Humes reports from Belmopan, was a meeting always on the edge of tension without quite going over.


Aaron Humes, Reporting

It appears the Police Department keenly felt the sting of public opinion following its failure in security on May seventeenth. This morning security was at its tightest, with at least a dozen police officers in and around the National Assembly and full protocol similar to regular House and Senate meetings in place. Also feeling the pinch was Committee Chairman Aldo Salazar, who laid down the law at the start of proceedings around ten-thirty.


Aldo Salazar

Aldo Salazar, Chair, Senate Special Select Committee

“Although as Chairman I may not be able to determine the direction of this inquiry, I do have full control of the proceedings in this chamber. And I am fully aware that any deviation from the highest standards of behaviour will reflect negatively on me. I am the person who is to take responsibility for what happens in here, and I will not allow anybody to give others further opportunity to sully my efforts in this inquiry. Many may take it for granted, but all of us here in this Committee, all of us involved have put in significant days and many, many hours of hard work, and I will not allow that hard work to be stained. As such, I hereby give fair warning that it is my view that each Senator is absolutely entitled to be heard in this Chamber in silence, and it is my intention to ensure that this prevails. I will not hesitate to clear this entire gallery if the occasion requires it, or remove anybody whom I deem to be misbehaving.”


Conspicuous by his absence was Brian “Yellow Man” Audinett. The House macebearer would have in any event not been welcome at his place of work today, by the media’s request. The leader of the Belizeans against Courtenay movement, U.D.P. chair Alberto August, brought more people, though conspicuously less militant personnel, to the Assembly. Countering that were members of the Opposition People’s United Party, led by their Leader John Briceño, who said that the BAC’s very presence suggested continued intimidation and thuggery.


John Briceño

John Briceño, Leader, P.U.P.

“I am very disturbed that the Chairman of the Senate inquiry; that the Speaker of the House; that the President of the Senate would allow a bunch of U.D.P. supporters to come up in these bright red t-shirts, obviously with the idea of trying to intimidate the Senators and trying to intimidate the witnesses. I don’t think that they should have been allowed to come in with that kind of t-shirt here in the National Assembly.”


Before proceedings began, we learned from president of Citizens Organized for Liberty through Action Geovannie Brackett and his colleague Raymond Rivers that they were still banned from entering the National Assembly building following their public berating last October of Churches Senator Ashley Rocke. Both men said this was not communicated to them before they appeared in Belmopan today but compared to August and Audinett, sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander as well.


Geovannie Brackett

Geovannie Brackett, President, COLA

“I was informed by the police that there was an ongoing ban on myself and a ban on Raymond Rivers from attending the House sittings. Now this is a surprise to us because I think that the House representatives know exactly how to reach out to me to send a letter to say that there is an ongoing ban – that is the first thing, we were never informed of such a ban. Secondly, after looking at the circus and what happened in the House and the attack on the media [two weeks ago], I believe that if you’re going to ban members of COLA and the president of PPOHRS, for just making sound or noise in the House in a sign of protest, then I would think that common assault of a journalist would warrant an indefinite ban.”

The B.A.C.’s August, however, remains unabashed from continuing his organization’s crusade against Courtenay.


Alberto August

Alberto August, Belizeans against Courtenay

“Trust me, once we have notice for Senate meetings and adequate notice, we are going to be there; because like I said our objective is simple – just to demonstrate peacefully until somebody hears our calls. Eamon Courtenay has got to go; Eamon Courtenay is bad for this country. Anytime when you are seeing Eamon Courtenay sitting in the Senate, it’s like you’re having Michael Ashcroft sitting in the Senate; it’s as simple as that.”



“Now how would you respond to what has been said, that because of your actions on the seventeenth, yourself and Mr. Audinett and Mr. Kelly and others, that you ought not to be here?”


Alberto August

“Go back to the Constitution; the Constitution gives you freedom of movement. Who will stop me from being here? I am constitutionally within my right to move anywhere I want to move!”


As the Committee’s public hearings reach boiling point, party politics is appearing to take center stage. Aaron Humes reporting for News Five.

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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1 Response for “Senate Committee Returns: More Muscle, More Rhetoric”

  1. Belizean pride says:

    ” demonstrate peacefully until somebody hears our calls” MR. AUGUST I guess nobody will ever want to hear you calls “it is as simple as that” as you.

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