PUP Condemns Decision by National Assembly Staff Committee

The People’s United Party expresses its condemnation towards the UDP Members of the National Assembly Staff Committee who voted in favour of Brian ‘Yellow Man’ Audinett to keep his job as Macebearer in the National Assembly after he publicly attacked members of the media inside the National Assembly building during the hearings of the Senate Select Committee on Wednesday, May 17, 2017.

Ministers Patrick Faber and John Saldivar along with Senate President Lee Mark Chang, Senator Michael Peyrefitte and National Assembly staff member Eudice Gibson all voted in favour of Audinett to keep his job. PUP Representative Hon. Florencio Marin and House Speaker Laura Longsworth voted in favour of firing Audinett.

The PUP joins the voices of those across the nation who were shocked to witness such unprofessional and thuggish behaviour, which is unbecoming of a Member of the National Assembly, being carried out by Audinett and other members of the UDP on live TV. Standing Order 6 (2) of the House of Representatives states that the “Mace is the symbol of the dignity and authority of the Speaker of the House.”

Not only should the Mace represents the ‘dignity’ and ‘authority’ of the Speaker, but by extension, the Macebearer himself. We view the decision of the Committee as a mere ‘slap on the wrist’ and as such, proves once again that this government is prepared to put politics before country.

The public show of support given to Audinett by the Prime Minister on national television days in advance of the meeting of the Staff Committee, sent a clear message to the UDP members of the Committee that Audinett was not to be replaced and a tacit approval of the actions of members of his Party during the Senate Hearings.

The PUP expresses equal concern about the behaviour of UDP Chairman Alberto August who was also part and parcel of Audinett’s antics inside the National Assembly building on that fateful day of May 17, 2017. He continues to make weekly appearances at the Senate Hearings in an attempt to intimidate Senators and witnesses. August, who also presides as Chairman of the Board of Belize Water Services Ltd. (BWSL) is in direct violation of Section 121 (1), (2) of the Constitution of Belize, which speaks clearly on the Code of Conduct of Officers of Statutory Corporations. As such, the PUP calls for the immediate removal of August as Chairman of BWSL.

BILL OF RIGHTS

The People’s United Party wants to share its vision with the Belizean people.  It is rooted in a philosophy that goes back to the Father of our Nation the Right Hon. George Price.  Mr. Price always believed ours was a work in progress; he led a revolution that is at its core peaceful, always constructive, progressive and uniquely Belizean.

These values remain true today and form a part of our PUP Creed. We are committed to the protection of our territorial sovereignty. We cannot, and will not risk even an inch of our beloved country, from the Rio Hondo to the Sarstoon. And we are committed to an accessible, fair and independent justice system and the rule of law in Belize.

The PUP will always seek to achieve social, economic and environmental justice.  It is a commitment to the socio-economic improvement of all Belizeans. Our plan is to rid Belize of poverty.  To the PUP, poverty is an ugly scar on our nation’s collective conscience, and no amount of cosmetic surgery can paste over the suffering of close to half of our people, most of them women and children, who live on less than ten dollars per day.

This is not only a task for governments. We all have a stake in this enterprise, but government must LEAD and bold leaders must show that they truly care. For us the task ahead is clear –  to build a Belize that works for everyone, so that every Belizean should come to expect five things. This vision, this determination, has created what we call our BELIZEAN BILL OF RIGHTS.

FIRSTEvery Belizean should have access to a piece of land.  With land we immediately create opportunities for upliftment and personal growth.

SECONDEvery Belizean should be able to own a decent home.  The 17th Century Jurist and politician Edward Coke in speaking on human rights said: “A man’s home is his castle.” Every Belizean in 2017 should expect such an entitlement whether they live on Bocotora Street or on Seashore Drive.

THIRD –  Every Belizean should be given the chance to go to school from pre-school to junior college. We have to make education free from pre-kinder to Junior College. If we will give our young people a chance at success, it must start with a good education.

FOURTHAccessibility to quality basic health care is critical, which means every Belizean should be enrolled in the National Health Insurance Program.  If we can invest 42 million dollars in a basketball stadium, then we should be able to provide basic health services to all.

FIFTH and most important, the driving force behind it all is JOBS – good jobs that can lead to meaningful careers; jobs that will give Belizeans a chance for personal growth and prosperity and provide a hand up for those at the very bottom of the economic ladder.

If we do these things, if we create a fair and just society, if we build on these principles we will then be able to change people’s lives and together we will rid our shores of the scourge that is poverty.

UDP Seeks to Derail Senate Hearings

May 24, 2017 — Even though we are aware of the Prime Minister’s heavy- handedness and the dictatorial manner in which he runs the country, the People’s United Party is seriously concerned and appalled at his disingenuous actions where the Senate Hearings are concerned. We are convinced, beyond any doubt reasonable or otherwise, that the Barrow administration will do anything possible to derail the Senate Hearings so that the truth about Ministerial wrongdoings in the Immigration Department are not exposed for the Belizean people to see.

Late last evening, the PUP became aware that UDP operatives had organized thugs to instigate violence at the sitting of the Senate. This violence, then, would have been an excuse to discontinue the hearings, the clear intention of the UDP as stated publicly by UDP-appointed Committee Chair, Aldo Salazar and Deputy Prime Minister Patrick Faber.

A decision was made, in conjunction with the Committee, to postpone the sitting for a week while definitive action is taken to remove UDP Chairman Alberto August, UDP thugs and any threat of violence against anyone from the equation. It was a difficult decision to make, but the Party fully realizes that the UDP will use any and every opportunity to disrupt the cross-examination of UDP Ministers, and that cannot be allowed to happen. The PUP felt, and still feels, that a postponement of one week is a small price to pay to allow for the hearings to continue until all is revealed.

As a Party, and as Belizeans, we condemn the UDP’s hijacking of the Senate hearing under threat of violence, and we condemn the Prime Minister for allowing, perhaps even condoning the intent of violence against sitting Senators. We call him out for being patently disingenuous, since Alberto August and the other hired thugs work for him, and take instructions from him. By that token, the Prime Minister could have, with a word, called off his “dogs” and allowed the hearings to continue as demanded by the Belizean people.

This is a sad day for democracy, a sad day for Belize! The PUP calls on the police department to install all necessary security measures. The people of Belize and the PUP remain resilient against any threats to disrupt these hearings and condemns all such acts that thwarts the very essence of our democracy.

STATEMENT BY HON SENATOR MICHEL CHEBAT

Mr. President,

I rise to put on record the People’s United Party’s strong condemnation of the behavior of members and supporters of the United Democratic Party at last Wednesday’s meeting of senate special select committee investigating illegalities in immigration.

In what can only be described as a carefully orchestrated plan to disrupt last Wednesday’s hearings, the chairman of the UDP and the mace bearer of the House of Representatives behaved in such an unruly manner that the hearings had to be suspended. Mr. President, this is unacceptable.

The situation was made worse as this organized disruption was done when Elvin Penner, the minister who gave nationality and a passport to Wong Hong Kim was giving testimony. It is clear that these agents of the UDP hoped to derail this important inquiry.

We call on the united Democratic Party to respect this Honorable Senate, and we demand that the senate inquiry be allowed to proceed without any further disruption by UDP operatives.

In a direct attack on our Belizean democracy, these same UDP goons assaulted members of the press. Mr. President, these assaults were done within the walls of this Honourable House, during the meeting of this special select committee. Not only threatening words were used, but there were physical assaults. We on this side condemn these actions and call for the criminal prosecution of those responsible.

This attack on the media is consistent with what is unfolding in the Magistrate’s Court in san Ignacio where a political prosecution is being initiated.

Mr. President, as a sign of our solidarity with the press, and to mark our condemnation of the illegal and unacceptable behavior by the UDP agents, we will as a sign of protest not participate in today’s sitting of this Honorable Senate.

PUP Condemns Comments by PSU President

May 16, 2017—The People’s United Party expresses its condemnation regarding the comments purportedly made by the President of the Public Service Union, Eldred Neal, and Marvin Mora from the Energy Workers Union in which they spoke very disparagingly and disrespectfully about the Garifuna people. The PUP believes that persons in such important positions should show a greater level of tolerance and respect for all people.

The Garinagu are the descendants of a people who have survived genocidal attempts and near extinction. They have endured against all odds, and today they should be celebrated, not only for their rich and vibrant culture but for the very fact of their existence. Above and beyond that, their contributions to so many sectors of modern Belizean society, particularly education and music, cannot be overstated. We live in a nation which is a melting pot of different cultures, races and people, and we can never tolerate or sanction divisiveness based on these very things which make us great.

We join the voices of those across the nation who are outraged at comments, purportedly made by these very important union leaders. Based on the comments made and heard in the recording, both Neal’s and Mora’s departure should not be a matter for discussion, but should be automatic. In any other country, they would have been gone already!!!

PUP WOMEN CONDEMNS POLICE BRUTALITY IN SAN PEDRO

Tuesday, April 4th 2017 – The People’s United Party through its women’s arm, the United Women’s Group (UWG), strongly condemns the actions of the Police Department and its response to the behavior of those police officers who were involved in the incident which occurred on April 1st, 2017 on San Pedro, Ambergris Caye.

The excessive violence captured on amateur video, clearly showed a woman who was already subdued, being subjected to excessive and unnecessary force by police officers. In addition, excessive force was also displayed by those same officers when they discharged their weapons in a crowded area injuring innocent bystanders.

The response of the Police Professional Standards Branch’s spokesperson during a press briefing on Monday, clearly cast derogatory aspersions about the character of the subdued woman in what can only be described as a desperate attempt at cover-up. In expressing her dissatisfaction with the events that led up to and the subsequent response by the Police Department, UWG President Tanya Santos said, “This is utterly disgraceful behaviour and response on the part of our police officers who are sworn to protect. No person, man or woman, deserves such barbaric treatment.”

The People’s United Party is likewise concerned about the response from the Ministry of Home Affairs and the reaction of the Commissioner of Police which to us, does not go far enough in light of the fact that these police officers brought shame and disgrace to the Police Department.

This April 1st incident in San Pedro exposes police brutality and abuse of authority in a heinous and disgraceful manner, resulting in several people being wounded.

The People’s United Party through its United Women’s Group call on the Government and those responsible to move swiftly to ensure not only that charges be brought against those responsible, but also that proper compensation be made to those who were affected as a result of this incident. We affirm our position that no person is above the law, especially those appointed with the responsibility for its enforcement.

PUP Condemns UDP attempt at Union Busting

April 4, 2017

 The People’s United Party views with some consternation the recent announcement by Education Minister, Patrick Faber that $1 million will be made available to pay teachers who attended school during BNTU’s 11-day strike in October 2016. It’s the sign of a stubborn, immature and downright dangerous man who refuses to accept that he went up against the teachers and lost.

In a time of deep economic recession, the GOB had to present an austerity budget of over $80 million in new taxes and almost $60 million in spending cuts – including for the Police Department, the Fire Department and the Food Pantry Program. Yet, less than two days after the start of the new financial year, we have our very first supplementary allocation. The truth is, Parliament never approved $1 million for this purpose, and if it is not a supplementary allocation, then it’s revealing that this kind of fat exist in what was supposed to be a lean budget.

We consider this to be a naked case of union busting. It’s a nefarious attempt by the government to divide the teachers. The People’s United Party believes that in the hearts of many of those teachers who did not strike, there was support for the union and its stand against corruption. While we cannot force any teacher to take the principled position of rejecting the proposed honorarium, we do believe it’s a sad day when this government openly tries to divide the teachers. We caution the teachers to never forget that the BNTU makes them stronger both individually and collectively. They must also be mindful that what appears to be attractive now, may well turn out to be a ‘knife in a velvet glove later’.

We’ve seen the UDP government use this same page from the colonial master’s playbook before – this shameless attempt at ‘divide and conquer’. They did it with the Belize Sugarcane Farmers Association when they splintered the 55-year-old association into three different groups, and now the once powerful sugar cane farmers are vulnerable to the whims and desires of the multinational ASR. We have seen them do it to the Mayas and (also to the) we have seen them do the same thing to the citrus farmers. As a people we have to remain ever vigilant against this kind of divisive tactics. What the BNTU and its teachers did in October of last year have and will benefit all teachers, public officers and the nation at large for many decades to come. We remain ever thankful to them for standing up on behalf of all the people of this nation.