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Feb 20, 2020

N.T.U.C.B. Holds Successful Demonstration in Belize City

This morning, the streets of Belize City were seething with union members and their leaders chanting: “Only the People Can Save the People.” The unions staged a successful anti-corruption protest with a strong message to the Barrow Administration, making six demands to end corruption. Included in the list is the implement of the UNCAC, as well as the launch of an investigation of the embattled John Saldivar.  The biggest and most militant union of the umbrella organization, the Belize National Trade Union Congress, was represented in strong numbers and the green T-shirts were prominent from start to finish.  The hierarchy of the unions led the march from Constitution Park to Memorial Park where the statements got fiery. Here is News Five’s Isani Cayetano with a report.


Isani Cayetano, Reporting

Constitution Park was the staging ground for a massive turnout of teachers and other unionists across the country who gathered here in Belize City this morning to demonstrate against corruption and other scandals that are plaguing government.  Organized by the National Trade Union Congress of Belize, the protest succeeded a pair of press conferences held by the umbrella organization during which its leadership candidly criticized the Barrow administration for falling woefully short of several expectations.


Marvin Mora

Marvin Mora, President, N.T.U.C.B.

“This is just a start, a warming up of sorts but we want to assure that the people who are in the position of power can make the decisions and address the six points that we raised.  Pay keen attention to the fact that we have full support of our membership countrywide and support from other organizations as you can see, that have already joined in the struggle for us to change the laws to address accountability and transparency.”


The effective implementation of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption, UNCAC, is one of the six demands being made by the trade unions.


Elena Smith

Senator Elena Smith, National President, B.N.T.U.

“You know of the six demands that we are making and we stand by those six demands.  We trust that the government and all the political parties who are hearing us will realize that what we are saying is serious and that they must address the matters.” 


Isani Cayetano

“This demonstration comes amid a lot of perceived turmoil, if I may, within the ruling party, the government of the day and of course everything else that is happening on a social scale.  Share with us what is the position of the teachers as a collective regarding what is happening in our country today.”


Senator Elena Smith

“Well of course they are not satisfied.  You see the numbers today and that is just saying that we are not satisfied with what’s going on.  We ought to spend some time to make sure that that the matter, the systems in our country are fixed, that our country can then proceed forward in a manner that is going to be beneficial to all of our people living in this country.”


While historical comparisons can be drawn to events of the past, particularly in 2005 and 2016, when the unions came together and took an unwavering position against government for several reasons, including transparency and accountability, today’s momentum did not result in such a resolution.  Quite frankly, it only serves to set the stage for what is to come should government not meet those six demands.


Senator Elena Smith

“While we are here marching for good governance, we have persons who are in government who are right now having a meeting in Belmopan trying to determine who is going to be the leader and how their party is going to move forward.  It’s as if though they are saying to us, you go ahead and you march and we will do what we want to do.  That won’t work.  It cannot be that if you are saying that you want to have serious dialogue with us and you want to work it out with us, then you don’t do such things.  You respect us and you listen to us, and if it is that they refuse to listen then remember that right now we are calling for reforms.  Remember in 2005, there were three Rs, so we are at the first R, reform.  What comes next, we will find out.”


Joining the N.T.U.C.B. as a member organization is the Christian Workers Union.  Under the leadership of Evan ‘Mose’ Hyde, the C.W.U. continues to lend its steadfast support in addressing the issues of corruption.  C.W.U. brought stevedores, as well as other members to the rally this morning where Hyde was also a guest speaker.


Evan ‘Mose’ Hyde

Evan ‘Mose’ Hyde, President, Christian Workers Union

“The reality is, is that we got lotta people weh fraid fi come out.  We got wahn lotta people weh think if yoh just be wahn nice person, avoid the troublemakers like dehn union one.  Avoid dehn things like demonstration, be good [and] walk the straight line, go da yoh lee office with yoh lee A/C, everything wahn be arite because we believe that corruption cyant ketch yo when yo done get da wahn lee plateau eena life.  When yoh get wahn lee comfort zone and yoh wahn protect that, you noh wahn come rock di boat.  But we just done gaan through wahn exercise.  Di Sanctuary Bay scandal neva hurt di people dehn da Belize weh mek di money, di one dehn weh da mi agent, di lawyer dehn weh mi di work fi Sanctuary Bay, ih neva hurt dehn.  Ih hurt di people dehn weh da honest professional people weh mi di work da di Atlantic place, da dehn da di people weh lose dehn job ova night, no job.  Sixty ah dehn, no job, dehn neva know corruption coulda come to dehn and hurt dehn di way how ih hurt dehn.”


N.G.O. Senator Osmany Salas was among two parliamentarians who came out in support of the protest and was also a speaker at today’s rally.


Osmany Salas

Senator Osmany Salas, N.G.O. Community

“I join my colleague in congratulating the unions.  When the unions make up their minds, they will bring their members.  They will bring the crowd and I am happy to see that the unions have come together.  I understand about ten unions have come together to really deliver a message.  You know, representing the N.G.O. community we’ve always stood for improved governance.  The call that the N.T.U.C.B. is making is along those lines, so I am here to show my support, lend my support.  We do need campaign finance legislation, we need to advance UNCAC.  It’s been three years since we signed and ratified that and it’s obvious that the will is not there from the government to implement it.”


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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