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Sep 25, 2013

Coastguard Officer demoted for detaining PM Roosevelt Skerrit

Roosevelt Skerrit

The Coastguard this morning confirmed what has turned out to be quite an embarrassing incident on Independence Day. It involves Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit, a guest of honor during this year’s September Celebrations. At the request of the government, P.M. Skerrit arrived on September eighteenth and that night, he was hosted to dinner; but his program also included visits to natural attractions. After the official ceremonies on Independence Day, Skerrit headed to the Hol Chan Reserve and this is when things went awfully wrong for the visiting P.M.   An investigation into the incident at sea was swift, and after a tribunal the officer in the eye of the storm, was demoted to a lower level rank.  On Saturday evening, a maritime patrol assigned to escort a VIP delegation approached the vessel in which the P.M. was traveling from the Hol Chan Marine Reserve.  But, instead of carrying out his appointed duty, Petty Officer Richard Mark Ogaldez proceeded to detain the high-level occupants by fastening their vessel unto the patrol boat.  Despite learning who the passengers were, Ogaldez carried on with getting the names of all those onboard the vessel.  When they were released, Skerrit turned in to his hotel room and cancelled the remainder of his program.  Today, News Five spoke with Admiral John Borland who further explained what transpired, as well as the measures taken against the obstinate officer.


Admiral John Borland, Commander, Belize National Coast Guard

John Borland

“I am deeply sorry and humbly apologize to the Prime Minister of Dominica, the honorable Roosevelt Skerrit and to those onboard that VIP vessel on the evening of the September 21st, in the area of San Pedro.  What actually happened is that the coastguard was called to respond or to support a VIP escort and of course that VIP was the Prime Minister of Dominica and a delegation from [the Ministry of] Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of National Security and some people from [the Ministry of] Tourism.  The coastguard received that call very late, the boat was on patrol so we had to make way to the area of operations to try and link up with the VIP vessel.  It did not link up at the proposed point because the time had gone by and it was late.  So they proceeded to the area of Hol Chan Marine [Reserve] and they met a vessel returning from Hol Chan down back to San Pedro and that indeed was the vessel.  So they approached the vessel, got the vessel to heave to which means to stop and tried to conduct, not an investigation but just an inquiry to find out if it is indeed the VIP vessel and to report themselves as the escort as they were late and tried to apologize for being late.  I think what went wrong was perhaps the approach of the vessel commander who was the coxswain, in this case as was reported Petty Officer Ogaldez.  And I think he erred in his judgment because when it got to the point of stopping the vessel and finding out whether or not this was the vessel with the prime minister onboard that was okay, but once that was verified then he should have had the courtesy and the respect to compliment the prime minister on being here, visiting us, being our guest in country, to pay respect and courtesy to him and just bid him the time of the day and let him go on his way.  Instead, what he tried to do was get the particulars of the vessel, the particulars of those people onboard who stated that he did this because he wanted it to be in his patrol report, to report back to his commander.  So, I think that was poor judgment on his behalf knowing a person of such rank and status and position of authority was onboard, you know.  The best he could have done was to apologize at the moment for stopping the vessel and then carry on with his duties of escorting the vessel even though he was already late.  So, certainly some people were aggrieved by his behavior.  The reports came into the office, we conducted an investigation and we held a hearing or what you might call a tribunal.  So the petty officer responsible, Petty Officer Ogaldez was placed on orders and came before the commandant on disciplinary trial and that trial resulted in him being demoted of his rank and reduced to the rank of seaman.  So he no longer holds that authority to coxswain a vessel or to be in command of a patrol, or no longer has the authority to ever come in contact with such high ranking government officials again until he has learned a lesson that that is not the way that the coastguard operates.”

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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4 Responses for “Coastguard Officer demoted for detaining PM Roosevelt Skerrit”

  1. Ferdelance says:

    This is absolute nonsense. When we have a dignitary visiting the county, there should be someone there to facilitate him. I feel that it was just a lack of responsibility of the government to protect the visiting dignitaries.
    Again I say that our government and the ones before them are crap!!!!

  2. belize first class says:

    this guy did not understand protocol.
    approaching a man, a Belizean bribe is in order.
    if it is a woman, Belizean booty call, “let me welcome in.”

    getting names to impress his commanding officer???

  3. cruz says:

    Thank God this happened, because this is how local fishermen and tour guides are harrassed on a daily basis here in san pedro and many times infront of tourists. So mabe officials can put a closer eye on how the coast guard conducts their business out here and to the coast gu
    ard thanks for being incompetent and sheding a much needed light on this very serious situation!

  4. Concern says:

    So many wrong things are happening with this government crowd, but none of the incidences are being resolved! It like one embarrassment after the other! Is it OK TO SAY, OUR government thrive on embarrassment? Yup…they are our GOVERNMENT, like it or not.

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