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Sep 20, 2021

Zenaida Moya is Charged for Anti-Vaxxers Protest

Belize’s growing anti-vaccination movement had its eyes set on the Old Capital this weekend where several groups were planning to converge on downtown Belize City to protest the government’s vaccine mandate.  Among them was the Belize Rights and Justice Movement, led by former mayor Zenaida Moya who was been vocal in her objection to the vaccine initiative.  While the others were stopped from reaching their destination, Moya reportedly organized a gathering of supporters and took to the streets of the city to demonstrate, sans the permission of the Belize Police Department.  When they arrived near Cinderella Plaza, having been warned twice that what they were doing is illegal, the GI3 was unleashed on them to break up the gathering.  In the process, Moya was arrested and charged.  Tonight we begin our coverage of the weekend’s many COVID-related activities with a story on Moya’s arrest.  Here’s News Five’s Isani Cayetano.


Isani Cayetano, Reporting

Zenaida Moya, a firebrand, was taken into police custody on Saturday.  The former Belize City mayor was subsequently charged with two counts related to offenses she purportedly committed, including hosting a gathering of more than ten persons who are not from the same household.  The charges stem from an illegal protest that is believed to have been organized by Moya, an anti-vaccine proponent.  Attorney Norman Rodriguez represents Moya.


Norman Rodriguez

Norman Rodriguez, Attorney-at-law

“There was some public event that they had in relation to this non-vaccination and they went ahead with what they believe was their right to do, and they were on the street walking.  I drove around and I saw different groups of people in lines, just going around with placards and so on.  So that was what prompted that when she was out there with the other people expressing themselves.”


That gathering, nonetheless, was never sanctioned by the Belize Police Department.  According to Commissioner of Police Chester Williams, there was no permit requested or given for the demonstration to be staged.


Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police

“Instructions were given to Mr. Rosado to disperse the crowd that was protesting in Belize City and I know for a fact that they were spoken to in the first instance and were asked to disperse, simply because, one: they were in breach of the COVID-19 regulations and, two: they were protesting without a permit.  But it would appear that instead of the crowd getting smaller, the crowd got huger and so, again, myself and Mr. Rosado dialogued and I told Mr. Rosado to give them one final warning and if they did not cooperate then the GI3 must be brought in to ensure that they disperse and that the ringleader of the group must be arrested.”


…and that’s what unfolded on Freetown Road near Cinderella Plaza.  The unit was called out and when personnel responded to that location, it was with one purpose.  The break up the gathering and take its organizer into custody.  Moya has gone on record elsewhere in the media to state that she was manhandled by the officers


Chester Williams

Chester Williams

“Well, I don’t know what she had anticipated.  If it is that you are resisting arrest and not cooperating with the police if she believed that the police would have just walked away and left her there.  The law dictates that the police must use only force that is necessary to detain a person and having looked at the video I saw on social media with her arrest, I could see that the police exercised great restraint in dealing with her, considering how she was behaving and that minimal force was used to detain her.”


Moya’s lawyer posits that they may have been protesting under the premise that by simply walking around one does not need a permit.


Norman Rodriguez

“If you’re holding a public event, the law dictates that you get a permit, but we’ve seen in the history of this country and over the last few years where, in order to not have the need to acquire a permit.  People just go out there and they walk around like normal people.  I believe [that] this is what they believed they were doing and, if that is the case, then you don’t need a permit.”


ComPol Williams outlined both charges that were brought against Moya, a key figure in the Belize Rights and Justice Movement.


Chester Williams

“She was issued with two violation tickets, one for being in public without a face mask and the other one for, I think the other one was for organizing, no, she was arrested and charged for organizing the gathering which was more than ten persons and she was charged for the offense of organizing a demonstration without a permit.”


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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