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Feb 15, 2011

N.G.O.s knock on doors for 17,000 referendum signatures

Learn, Sign, Vote, is the campaign launched on Monday by the Belize Coalition to Save Our Natural Heritage.  The coalition needs seventeen thousand votes to convince the government that a referendum is necessary so that Belizeans may decide for themselves if they want drilling for oil in our reefs and national parks.  It’s a personal issue for environmentalists since most of the country is blocked off for development. The coalition’s chairman says that the advocacy started from September 2010, and they need twelve thousand more signatures to push for the referendum.

Geovanni Brackett, Chairman, Coalition to Save Our Natural Heritage

Geovanni Brackett

“It is all a part of our referendum drive where we are going from district to district, house to house collecting signatures. Different organizations have committed to different formats—whether it is going house to house as Oceana is doing; whether it is going to events as members of the coalition. But you will basically be seeing the coalition at every event, going in your neighborhoods. So people you will be seeing us that is going to be solved and you are going to see the coalition going door to door. The Learn, Sign and Vote Campaign is basically learning about the issue—why we are calling for a band against oil exploration offshore [and] within protected areas, its economic, its environmental, its socioeconomic values, its legal aspects. The sign, sign the petition—it doesn’t mean that you have to be for or against; it just means that you will have the Belizean people decide on how oil exploration is going to conducted in the country. And the voting stage—when that referendum is called, then we will be taking our campaign in terms of how we would like you to vote. But at this point in time we are in the learn and the sign element of it where we are asking people to learn about the issue and sign up for the referendum. We currently need seventeen thousand signatures to call for a referendum that is ten percent fo the registered voting population.”

Jose Sanchez

“How much do you have at this time?”

Geovanni Brackett

“Right now, I think the last time we check, we don’t have a definitive figure because we have many organizations who have many forms who have completed many of them but haven’t sent them in as yet. Currently right now the last check I think we have a little bit over five thousand confirmed after we did some vetting—some were disregarded.  But in Belize City, you can call the APAMO office where the coalition headquarters is. You can ask for Tanya Williams who is the coordinator for the coalition and she will be able to notify you of the other areas throughout the districts as to where you can pick up forms or who you can call to come to your house.”

Jose Sanchez

“Is there a deadline set for this referendum or for the signatures for that matter?”

Geovanni Brackett

“The team would like to give impression as if though there is a referendum, but by law Jose there is no such thing. Any organizations who wish to take up an issue to carry it to referendum; there isn’t a deadline as to when you have to collect those signatures. But let’s be practical, we wouldn’t want to take three, four years to deal with this issue.”

The next few months to collect signatures to present to the governor general.

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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13 Responses for “N.G.O.s knock on doors for 17,000 referendum signatures”

  1. Lucas says:

    Last week Belize Time dedicated some space concerning the referendum and I wrote an opinion regarding it, however, it seems the Belize Time did not see fit putting it up. It is not the first time it happens. When the commentary I make is not favourable to them, they just delete it. Here is what I wrote: [ If the information I got is correct, Belize's referendum law is modeled after California's very own. California referendum law, if I am correct, allows 3 months for gathering the required amount of signatures. Time that Mr. Barrow said will grant. However, a successful referendum does not necessary means end of story. A successful referendum can be challenged in court and can even be declared unconstitutional by the court; or at least be stalled in court. Two example are: The infamous PROPOSITION 87, during Governor Pete Wilson, was passed in a referendum but was challenged and declared unconstitutional by the court. In 2010 I believe, California voters banned same sex marriage in a referendum which was challenged and up to now, is stalled in court. One voter can hold hostage the wishes of an entire electorate.
    To drill or not to drill is like a SCORPION. A SCORPION with which the P.U.P. is playing. If you hold a scorpion by the tail, it will sting you and if you hold it by the head, it's tail is long enough to reach and will still sting you. Sometime in the future the P.U.P. will return to Belmopan just to face the same issue and they will drill and thus, their hipocresy will be revealed. I call upon the P.U.P. to stop playing politics with the pain, fears and suffering of the people.] The people are suffering and feeling the pain because of the high cost of fuel. I am of the opinion that the question is not drilling but how to do it environmentally safe, how to get the maximum benefit and how to make those rascals in Belmopan accountable. The self-anointed environmentalists do not have the best interest of the Belizean people but theirs and of them who pay their salary. They give a damn about the poor. They have good cars, three meals a day and a sure salary. BELIZEANS DO NOT LET THESE PEOPLE GIVE YOU A CAT FOR A RABBIT.

  2. Bally says:

    Drill baby Drill. Or dont drill baby don’t? Environmentalists like to say there is global warming, yet every December seems colder than the last in Belize. So why are they right that Belize should not cash in on any oil that might be found? May be these NGOs are right. May be GoB is right. Who is to say? Dats why me no worry myself with things which don’t benefit me. All I worry bout da if I wa mek enough by end a month fi keep the water and lights on and to buy food. Things haad out yaa whether da PUP or UDP, Democrats or Republicans, Communists or Capitalists. The ordinary man have to face his own everyday battles by dem self.

  3. BZ says:

    @Bally … that is why people need to LEARN about the issues. It is not about money its about saving the reef, the jungle, wildlife for us and future generations. A few million dollars now wont make a difference in the future when our country becomes a barren wasteland.

  4. ivan cal says:


  5. javier solis says:

    I agree 100 % with Lucas above. The PUP issued most of these licences to drill, enjoyed the perks from them, like the paid retreat at the island, and now they are protesting against them. When their time comes again i hope they dont regret pandering to these foreign interests, some who have never set foot in Belize. Matura is well very paid and well housed, t be a consulting rather than practicing lawyer. We need to move Belize ahead with this oil drilling. If not offshore at least onshore.

  6. Sorry says:

    Drilling oil is not for me or you. Drilling oil is for the big Rats out there. NGO has the word. They will do as they please. But no worry, as we all belizean are starting to feel that the earth is shaking beneath us, drill more oil and soon many of us will be burried because it will start shaking stronger in years to come and all for the sake of money. Belize remains in the same old and ugly situation. They are already drilling oil and Belize is already shaking, we still d barrow money
    the people are crying but the only thing that is full is some high class men bank account.

  7. Mick says:

    Oil industry and the problems that come along with it are legendary! Yes they are, except that many of us are not aware! Please read up on Nigeria and many other African Nations that produce oil! Read up on Venezuela! Read up on the Middle Eastern countries. There is a lot of money to be earned through oil, but at what cost to the general populace? We need to be cognizant on how it affects us. Those who are naive to think that a lot of money earned means better for all of us need to be re-educated!
    I read someone making inferences that global warming is not a fact because it gets colder in Belize progressively during winter! How is that an argument against the realities of global warming? It being colder during winter does not reflect on the warming trend throughout the year! Or increase in temperatures in other parts of the world, raising the average temperatures throughout the world. The space here is too short to go into the effects.
    And I agree with @BZ regarding Belize becoming a barren wasteland….a Barrier Reef that we will only remember via pictures and nostalgia…..

  8. shock says:

    Belizean need to be reminded that we are now part of a wider regional family, and should begin to learn how to utilize the assistance this bigger family of nation (CARICOM) to help fight these monsters, the local government as well as the oil companies that want to tranple on a little country. Folks, its not just what we do, but how we do what we do. Always remember that strength is in numbers. Reach out to your CARICOM family and ask for advise, you might be surprise to see the result.

  9. sasha says:

    well said Lucas, but I would still say no drilling in belize, because the only ones that will profit will be the oil company and the political power present.

  10. louisville,ky says:

    I believe I read something about a week, maybe ten days ago about an international enviornmental agency that donates money to countries with oil in lieu of extracting it. My understanding is that they calculate how much oil is estimated and then either give that amount of money or a fraction thereof. The article even mentioned a South American country that is benefiting from the programme.
    We all know that those in authority always have ulterior motives when the potential for massive wealth gain presents itself. This enviornmental option would be a wonderful opportunity for Mr Man to show for all the world to see, just how accountable and transparent, he truely is.

  11. ladymatura says:

    Well said Louisville, its the people who really want to discuss the issue and add to the the national discussion, that will make a difference and not those easily caught up in personal attacks, political distractions and red herrings. Tthrough your own reading you are sharing a very important bit of information and I must add that it was Costa Rica that decided to take the eco-friendly path and ban offshore drilling in their country. They have replaced Belize as the leaders in eco-toiurism and gained wealth through preserving theri resources while affording their people a higher quality of life without selling out to the oil companies.

    Lets keep bringning ideas to the table and discussing the reality of Belzie oil contracts, laws and regulations and ask ourselves if that is indeed the best for our people. If the majority is satisfied with the level of corruption already allowed in the oil industry I will be satisfied that at least the people spoke. Look out to hear about our upcoming forums and attend and questiosn us so we too are accountabel and transparent about what we present to the public. God bless Belize and all of the above for contributing constructively to this national issue.

  12. jim says:

    how can i vote? what should i do to vote? i live in the US but i am a Belizean. i am coming down in april. someone let me know where to vote.

  13. shock says:

    Carbon credits is also very popular, as well as leveraging in ground assets. after all its on going revenue that the country needs, and funds gotten from these can be placed with experience wealth managers to produce perpetual revenue stream for the country. The government may not like this kind of funding since there is no potential for under the table dealings.

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