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Feb 1, 2019

The I.C.J. Vote and the Elderly

Meet Anne Olivera; we found her and her peers, including a resident who is one hundred and five years old, at HelpAge on Wilson Street. They were attentively listening to the Referendum Unit on its presentation of taking the claim to the International Court of Justice. The April tenth referendum is a big decision to make so the elderly folks are thinking about the impact on future generations. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.

 

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

What does going to the International Court of Justice mean for the elderly?  At ninety-four-years-old, participating in the April tenth referendum may very well be the last democratic exercise for Anne Olivera and her vote on that day will be an important part of her legacy as a Belizean.  Her decision will impact the future of her great-grandchildren.

 

Anne Olivera

Anne Olivera, Elderly Voter

“This Guatemala business dah something weh di go ahn longtime, before we eva dream fi born.  So I noh know how we wahn decide or weh we wahn decide fi do or weh the higher authorities wahn decide fi help we wid or weh we wahn do.  We need help noh, we need help, because then we, I mean to seh, who da fu we country?  We fi we country so?  We wahn people weh higher than fu we country fi lead we di way weh we business fi go.  That da di way how I see it, yoh noh.”

 

This afternoon, the Referendum Commission is presenting the ICJ solution to a rather unique audience made up solely of senior citizens, some as old as one hundred and five.  For them the education process will form their position going forward, despite having been around from the time that the claim resurfaced.

 

Delhart Courtenay

Delhart Courtenay, Elderly Voter

“I am here as part of a group called Belize City Seniors, that‘s the group I belong to and we all have different views.  My own perspective is that I am waiting to be schooled on the pros and cons of the entire procedure before I decide how to vote.  Right now I don‘t know how I am going to vote.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“At eighty-eight years old, this issue between Belize and Guatemala, you‘ve seen it, you‘ve been around it, you’ve lived it.  Share with us what your views are in terms of having grown up and gone through life with this claim hanging over us.”

 

Delhart Courtenay

“That is correct sir.  I can recall as a young man coming up in high school in 1948 when I first began hearing about Guatemala owning Belize.  At that time, we were a colony of Britain and whenever the Guatemalans began rattling their sabers, the British would send down a squadron of Harriers here and they would back off.  This thing goes way, way, way back and all the time we have been saying that the problem is not with us and Guatemala, it is with Britain and Guatemala.  If Guatemala wants compensation, Britain must compensate Guatemala.  We were saying when I was a young man that we won‘t give Guatemala even one square centimeter.  We are saying now we won‘t give them a blade of grass.”

 

Doctor Gilda Lewis, herself an elderly woman, is teaching her peers about the advantages of taking the territorial dispute between Belize and Guatemala before the world court for adjudication.

 

Gilda Lewis

Dr. Gilda Lewis, Member, Referendum Commission

“This afternoon’s presentation will go through basically why we are talking about referendum anyway, and then give the ladies and gentlemen some background information on the slides.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“This is a unique audience you have here in that it‘s made up of older people.  Can you talk to us about the need for reaching out to this particular population?”

 

Gilda Lewis

“They need to feel like they have a say in this matter.  Their voices need to be heard, and so one of the first things I am going to ask them is, “Is there anyone in here who isn‘t registered to vote yet?”  And depending on how many hands go up, I will praise them or urge them to go and get registered because the cut off is the tenth of March.”

 

Organized by HelpAge Belize, Executive Director Ivorine Bulwer has gathered as many senior citizens to sit in on this very important discussion.

 

Ivorine Bulwer

Ivorine Bulwer, Executive Director, HelpAge Belize

“It’s important to have our older persons; they are part of the history.  They are a part of the whole independence scenario, the whole Heads of Agreement, the whole… They are from north, south, east of this country.  They have lived in several areas of the country and they have experienced the challenges with the Guatemala/Belize dispute and it is very important for them to have information.  It’s part of their right to information, it‘s part of their right to be politically involved in voting yes or no to the referendum.  At the same time it‘s also important for them to get the facts and to question.  The presenter may be sharing certain information and they want to ascertain or to question certain information that would be shared with them and I think it‘s important for our older persons to be heard.”

 

Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.


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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