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Feb 21, 2020

Unions Say We Are the Boss!!

The ten unions of the National Trade Union Congress that took to the streets on Thursday were united in the fight against the rampant corruption that has invaded the government.  Throughout their protest and rally, their battle cry was to stomp out the evil threat to the nation.  The unions say that the people are the bosses and as such the gatekeepers for good governance. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports. 


Isani Cayetano, Reporting

The efficacy of public demonstrations and whether messages sent by protestors do reach their intended audiences are questions that must be taken into consideration in retrospect.  While some may focus on numbers, in terms of turnout and participation, the purpose of taking to the streets is more about a firm position being held by the aggrieved parties; in this case, enough to send a clear and resounding message to government.


Elena Smith

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

“The issues, it’s all about broken systems that we have in this nation.  Our systems have been broken because persons who are in control or who we allow to be in control do not see the need to listen to us, to do things that are beneficial to us.  It’s all about them.  It’s not about the people, it’s about them.  This is now time for us to show them that we are in charge, we run things eena dis country and we have to start behaving as we run things.  Now people, we are hearing about corruption.  Well I want to speak a little bit about corruption within our area.  You see, corruption is not just about taking money from Lev Dermen and using it to suppress your people, because when they pay your bill that is what they are doing, they are suppressing you.  When they make you feel that you can’t do without your little handout they are suppressing you.  When it’s time for elections and they give you a little twenty dollars and fifty dollars and hundred dollars to vote for them, you are being suppressed.”


The idea of corruption, however, goes beyond the ballot.  B.N.T.U. President, Senator Elena Smith describes dishonesty for personal gain within the teaching profession.


Senator Elena Smith

“It is giving persons who are politically connected a full license when they don’t deserve it.  It is giving persons two provisional licenses when the rules are clear that you cannot get two provisional licenses.  It’s about not paying our heads of departments on the proper scale that they should be on because you think and you do not have the process in place to address the matter, so because you are not ready, you are not prepared, you didn’t think before, you can’t pay them.  That is corruption because they are getting their big salaries.”


The objective of the demonstration organized by the National Trade Union Congress of Belize was to shed light on the issue of corruption and while dishonesty occurs in all strata of society, public and private sectors, the focus was on government.


Osmany Salas

Osmany Salas, Senator, N.G.O. Community

“Nowadays it seems that it’s a race of who has the most money to spend to buy the elections.  Who pays the piper calls the tune.  Every single politician who has accepted questionable and unregulated campaign contributions is beholden to the campaign donors, especially to those like Dermen who seem to have very deep pockets that they are very willing to throw around, throw the money around.  Politicians should be beholden to the electorate, to the people of Belize, not to the special interests and the campaign donors.  But that is not what is happening, we are in an era and unu listen to this message.  We are in a time where politicians believe that they have no choice but to dip into the public purse, illegally dip into the public purse and go after highly questionable donations disguised as campaign contributions to satisfy the electorate for handouts.”


Perhaps the most resounding statement that rang across Thursday’s gathering of unionists is that the electorate is truly the persons in charge and that elected officials must honor the will of the people.


Gerald Henry

Gerald Henry, President, Public Service Union

“We are the boss.  We are out here.  We are the ones who put the politicians there.  We are the lions here and with that said, I would like to say that personally who is supposed to get yellow card gets yellow card.  I don’t know how many of you know that in my previous, I wouldn’t say life, but previous to coming to the union I was a referee.  So who is supposed to get yellow card you get yellow card and who is supposed to get your red card, get your red card and go.  This game is not for you, we are not playing this game the way you want to play 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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