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May 23, 2018

Celebrating Oil Moratorium – “Hands Across the Sand”

Over the weekend, on May nineteenth at noon, persons from communities and organizations across the country joined hands on beaches, across bridges, in conference rooms and along seawalls and other public areas to celebrate in OCEANA’s 2018 Hands Across the Sand. In its eighth year, the celebration was extra special because Belize recently made the historic decision on an indefinitely offshore oil moratorium to safeguard its natural resources. Hands Across the Sand is also a unique platform to promote clean energy alternatives to fossil fuels. This year saw the participation of hundreds of residents from Orange Walk Town, Dangriga, Belize City, Placencia, Corozal Town, San Ignacio, Hopkins, Sarteneja, Punta Gorda, Caye Caulker, San Pedro and Belmopan. A News Five team checked in with OCEANA’s Outreach Program Director, Jacinta Gomez, who says that the event was successful.


Jacinta Gomez

Jacinta Gomez, Outreach Program Director, OCEANA Belize

“Hands Across the Sand actually started in 2010 in a response to the BP Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico which went down in history as one of the worst environmental disasters. So in a response to that, organizers, ocean lovers, environmentalists gathered to form a barrier metaphorically and literally in the sand to say no to dirty fuels and yes to clean energy. Here in Belize, we adopted this initiative; OCEANA organizes it every year. And this year was very special to us given that we now have a law protecting our very important marine resources from offshore oil exploration and drilling. So this year’s celebration was just that; a celebration to really say thank you to the Belizean public. The wave makers, supporters that came out, they know the realities of what an offshore oil industry would mean for them—in the tourism industry, the fisheries industry and as Belizeans. We are very proud of our marine resources so it is easy for us to come and hold hands in solidarity to say we say no to this; we say yes to greener policies and renewable energy sources. It was twelve municipalities countrywide and eight global countries. So ti was happening globally at the same time at twelve noon where activities joined hands and say we don’t want this. We made posters; we had face painting at different events. Many were coastal communities, but I also want to highlight that we had people in San Ignacio and Orange Walk also joining hands in solidarity just to show you how connected our country is and it is not just the people in the cayes that care about these issues; it’s the country on a whole.”

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