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May 31, 2023

“The opposition is going to say anything.” – Anthony Mahler

Tourism Minister Anthony Mahler was among several colleagues who raised objections to a white paper presented by Prime Minister John Briceño to Cabinet on May twenty-third.  That document had to do with proposed legislation that would facilitate the development of a cruise tourism terminal in the vicinity of the Sibun River.  It follows a Definitive Agreement entered into by the previous administration in October 2020, with the principals of Portico Enterprises Limited.  It has also been revealed that former Minister of Economic Development Erwin Contreras was signatory to that agreement.  On Tuesday, Opposition Leader Shyne Barrow had a go at Prime Minister Briceño, harshly criticizing him for putting forward the controversial paper.  This morning, when we caught up with Minister Mahler at an event here in Belize City, we sought a response from him in respect of Barrow’s recent comments.


Anthony Mahler

Anthony Mahler, Minister of Tourism

“The opposition is going to say anything.  Who signed the document?  If you’re going to be a country that respects the rule of law and respects agreements, then the blame has to be put on the UDP and Erwin Contreras.  So I really don’t understand the mindset of the Leader of the Opposition.  He speaks because he has a hole in his face.”


Marion Ali

“In terms of his point that it is the current prime minister who is pushing the document now, after having admitted that the document is invalid.  What’s your take on that?”


Anthony Mahler

“Listen to me, everything regarding cruise is going to end up in the courts and so we have to be very careful.  Would we want this to be another BTL, whereby we didn’t abide by certain agreements, we went through the court system and ended up paying five hundred and fifty million dollars when we damn well know that that institution was not worth that at the time.  So there are a lot of issues at play here, we have to be extremely careful.  We’re getting legal advice about the Definitive Agreement and I’ve said this in Cabinet that I believe that the principals behind the development would be interested in renegotiating the Definitive Agreement and from my perspective, and I can say this on behalf of the prime minister.  We put that Definitive Agreement on hold, we put the legislation on hold but everything in this business is a timing issue when you are dealing with international corporations.”

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