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Nov 17, 2022

G.O.B. Responds to Oceana’s Referendum Call

Janelle Chanona

Late this evening, government issued a press release responding to Oceana. In its statement, G.O.B. clarifies that it has not entered into any agreements for seismic studies nor for oil exploration in offshore areas. The release goes on to say, quote, the Government of Belize has made unprecedented progress in positioning its natural capital in its overall vision for economic recovery and growth of our country.  Consistent with Plan Belize, and its mandate to ensure the responsible use of its natural capital to realize its economic, social and environmental goals, the government will continue to approach its natural capital resources in a responsible and wise manner, unquote.  During the press conference, Vice President Chanona said that a referendum is the best way for Belizeans to state their collective position on the matter.


Janelle Chanona, Vice President, Oceana in Belize

“We cannot think of a more transparent way to have Belizeans document their interest in highlighting how they feel about offshore oil by way of a referendum.  So the question that we will be putting to Belizeans is that we are asking for them to sign this petition because they want an official referendum on the topic of offshore oil.  So this is really, our referendum exercise is really about giving citizens the right to approve what happens next with offshore oil, whether the moratorium is lifted to conduct seismic, whatever happens next, and it’s really about supporting transparency. I can tell you that based on our 2016 experience when we were in a very similar position insofar as, I would say, complete unawareness that there was interest in Belize doing seismic and being told after hours phone call from somebody who talked to somebody to say seismic ships were inbound to Belize.  We are in the same situation.  There is no piece of information that confirms when this is going to start, but I would say, as a law abiding Belizean and as a dedicated patriot, if the Prime Minister of Belize tells me that he wants to do seismic, that has to carry the weight of his entire office and so I take him at his word that this is what he wants to do.”

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