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Apr 22, 2021

P.S.U. and Teachers Protest Outside National Assembly Building

All eyes today were on Independence Hill, as teachers, nurses and other members of the joint unions came out to express their discontent with G.O.B. and its intent to cut their salaries by ten percent and freeze their increments for an additional three years.  News Five’s Duane Moody was outside the National Assembly this morning. 


Duane Moody, Reporting

As early as eight a.m. today, teachers gathered at the steps of the Independence Hill outside the National Assembly Building in anticipation of day one of the budget debate. As parliamentarians arrived, their chants reverberated in the air – they want good governance and the ratification of the UNCAC.


Luke Martinez

Luke Martinez, President, N.T.U.C.B.

“We’ve been sending this message for years. Today what we are seeing here is a unified movement towards the implementation of good governance. We are listening to the teachers and the public officers and Belizeans out there talking about the implementation of UNCAC; it has to happen. Corruption must be put to an end and this is the movement that we are talking about. We are not here to destroy anything. We are nationals, we are humanitarians and this is a nationalistic movement. This is what nation building is about. We must fight corruption. We are here to defend our property; we are defending our territory that’s the ten percent. We are defending our wages and we will defend it to the end.”


They were soon after joined by P.S.U. as scores of public officers in yellow shirts came parading through the pathway and onto the plaza. P.S.U. Vice President Dean Flowers says that even with a fragile economy, nepotism and cronyism is rampant.


Dean Flowers

Dean Flowers, 1st Vice President, P.S.U.

“We are in a bad state economically and we will need to unite. We must unite, but on a good governance platform which I am disappointed to say that this administration has reneged – just like the Barrow administration did. This administration was voted in on a platform of good governance, transparency and accountability. What we have seen is more non-transparent procurement of contracts; what we have seen is nepotism and cronyism doubling.  If you look at all the statutory boards and you will see the sons, daughters, cousins, brothers of politicians there. I was recently informed that when you look at the Belize Airport Authority, I understand the daughter of the Prime Minister’s executive assistant, Mrs. Garcia is there running that. I understand she has no qualification to be heading the Belize Airport Authority. What is wrong with these people when we have qualified Belizeans out here that have been displaced by COVID-19 who don’t have a job. Her mother has a job, her father has a job, her husband is the C.E.O. in the free zone and she has to be placed, without the requisite qualification, to run the Belize Airport Authority? This nonsense hafto stop! This is the equivalent of putting Anwar Barrow, with no experience, at B.T.L.”


A first, the Nurses Association of Belize also came out and joined in the protest today. Likening the situation to a “bukut,” the leadership of the association spoke about the vexing situation with the salary cuts and increment freeze.


Darrell Spencer

Darrell Spencer, President, Nurses Association of Belize

“We the people need to demand a change in our government. Noh fi change the government; we tired ah change government. Yo change monkey, yo get black dog. We want the government to change; we don’t want to change the government.”


Duane Moody

“Talk to us about yo “bukut.”


Darrell Spencer

“Bukut here represents weh Belizeans taking for the past forty years. Two decades nearly a U.D.P., two decades nearly of P.U.P. and all we get dah “bukut.”We need fi stop take “bukut.”


Alberta Flowers, Vice President, Nurses Association of Belize

“The sign says it all.”


Duane Moody

“Understaffed, overworked, underpaid; that’s what nurses are facing?”


Alberta Flowers

Alberta Flowers

“Of course. Salary cut is not the answer. Imagine what us as nurses go through every day. We sacrifice a lot for our country and for our patients. So for them to say that we don’t have talent – audacity in them.”


Standing alone in the crowd was twenty-year-old track and field athlete Canaan Smith from Libertad Village in the Corozal District. He made his way to Belmopan today to provide support to the unions and would have liked to see Belizean athletes and the youth come out and make demands to government leaders.


Canaan Smith

Canaan Smith, Athlete, Track & Field National Team

“I am out here standing firm as a youth leader, as an athlete, as an advocate for the B.N.T.U. and the P.S.U.  I am out here to set an example for the young people. We need the young people to come out and stand up; we are seventy percent of this population. We can make a difference, however, we cannot just sit home and let the government do whatever they want with us. We are the employers of the government. We employ them so we should hold them accountable in every decision they make.”


Even as police stood watch and barricades erected, the anti-corruption protest went off without a hitch. But the message was loud and clear.


Darrell Spencer

“Sign the laws, get the laws in place, get the whistleblower act in place. No amount of salary cut will help this country with a wasteful government.”


Dean Flowers

“The P.S.U. will be welcoming to any Belizean who genuinely wants to stand up for Belize. We are not interested in party politics, we are not interested in embarrassing the government and we are certainly not interested in bringing back what has been thirteen years of some of the worst corruption we have seen. What we want is for the system to be fixed.”


Duane Moody for News Five.


Later in the newscast, we will show you more of the very visible protests along the nation’s highways.

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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