Party Leader’s Garifuna Day Message – Garifuna

GARIFUNA SETTLEMENT DAY MESSAGE
by: Hon. John Briceño
Leader for the Opposition
and Leader of the People’s United Party
at Official Ceremonies Dangriga
19th November 2016

Rísiti, Pántati, Gabafuti, Iúnrahówa meme la
Lidan irumu 1492, aban weyu lubá larugan aba lábürügü Columbusu habu lisudaran tuma büri lugune lidan le unbei hagúara aturiahatian aban iseri ubóu. Ladüga susereti ligía aba hadunragu amuñeguéinarügü gürigia luma büri susereti lun lasansiruni ubóu gumugua dan. Lidan gíenti hadúnragun amuñeguéinarügü rasa ladüga meme susereti le aba ti mosu la habayarahan aban luweirin ihürügu aba lubeiti sian la wafareiraguni wasügürü wawariuwagúa dagá lumoun fecha le.
Woun wagía ya Balisi, hábürügüle furumien Garinagu ya lidan irumu 1802 lau bucharuaü lárigi fayáü lárigi habugawagún hageiragien, ligía aban lídangien susereti le gárigitimábei. Mémegi, maredeti hayumahan lun hawiwandu kei wügürian hama würían líburetian luma pantaü kei Garinagu. Darandi irumu lárigi aba hábürügü ya saragu hawoun aban weyu lidan Unsu Hati, lebubei awanha lubéi afeduhei hafedun Garinagu guentó.
Saragu irumu lárigi weyu ligía lidan Unsu Hati 1832, watian bugan Garinagu Balisina luagu hagurasun hayunagu lun hagunfuliruni hawenedi hayunagu lun haweiridaguágüdüni Balisi mámarügü hóuniwagua, woun sungualuágu. Kei hayunagu mabuluchagúntian lebubei gawara la larihíniwa hárigi Garinagu lidan sun lácharagun ibagari Balisi.

Arihúati hárigi Garinagu Balisina haganagua arufudahatian dagá hamoun inginéru, dagá hamoun surusia, akutihatian, fádirigu hama lídantian politiku.
Uguñe weyu lanichugu Balisi anichugu Garifuna an hiúngua lumuti baraüwa Garifuna láfadaragun saragu ageiraü, abahüdüwa ligía geyegu ubóu asta lun laríengúniwa lau lunti la lareidahóun gumugua dan.
Mosu weiri la hapanta wügürian hama würían ha meha ábürügübaña 1802 hama híbiri ha ñünbibaña 1832 lau barühamá la, afeduha haméi sun Balisina, lanichugu Garifuna, lugundu ti bürügien amu la lira luei luwiyeri binadu saminaü le yebe busienbei lagumuchu hau gürigia ha aransebaña lun hónwengu ageindagua lun hawinwandun kei habéi luma lun mamudirún hamá.
Ladüna lubéi ti lun wafeduhani Hafedun Garinagu irumu le agumeirei lupanta, lubafu luma lirisin Garifuna. “Garifunaduáü.” Afeduha wamuti pantaü ligía luagu lawandadi. Kei laríenguni Jeremy Enriquez, “aban adügaü le mama furumienguárügüti le gadünati lafeduhóun” le rügü magumuchaguágüdü lani lugumadi Ingüleisi anichugu le.
Wafeduha lubéi ti uguñe, ruwama seremei hawagu hiúnagu derebugutian ha achülüragüdübádiü águyu lidoun lirufugun wageira Balisi. Inchahaláü hagurasun magumuchagu lámuga alagan le hígirubei. Bunagua humá kei hábunagu hiúnagu lun harufudahani hanichugu houn hirahüñü, deregegua wagía me gíen woungua lun wiúnrahani wageira lau pantaü, aban Balisi le nadagimeiti houn sun.
Gunda la Hásügürüni Hafedun Garinagu!!!

Hon. John Briceño Leader of the Opposition Belize City, Belize

29 September, 2016 — We are grateful for the opportunity to share our initial plans for how we intend to govern our nation. We in the PUP know that through our struggle was born a peaceful revolution.

Through our work to build this nation, our struggle has been constructive and progressive at its core. OR In our struggle to build this nation, our work has been constructive and  remains fundamentally progressive.

The Father of our Nation, the Right Hon. George Price bequeathed to us this spirit and understanding that together, through hard work and the guidance of our Creator, we can fulfill our aspirations.

We in the PUP will always believe that our progressive revolution seeks to uplift our people – be it from the indignity of colonialism to any other form of injustice.

We believe that our nation’s development hinges upon our collective responsibility to move Belizeans from poverty to prosperity.

This is why we center our efforts and beliefs in Social Justice.

This is why we will never tire and continue to speak out against injustice, especially in the face of such obvious wealth while close to half of our people live in poverty.

This is why it will always be the PUP’s cause to speak out against that which impedes our national development and to act accordingly.

We believe that Belize is a very special place – To call it a jewel simply does not do it justice. Belize is gift and one that we feel honored to call our home.

Not solely because of the obvious and abundant wealth in our natural resources, but also because of its wonderful people; a people who desire to work and build a nation where all may prosper and live with dignity.

 

It is our dignity as Belizeans that we intend to fight to secure in the fulfillment of the promise of prosperity for all generations of this country.

And so in this spirit, on this 29th of September, on the 66th anniversary of our Party, we come here to renew our commitment to this ideal and to share our plan to improve governance.

If we consider all that has taken place in our nation there can be no time better than the present to lay out our plans and offer real solutions on how we will govern this nation.

The former Secretary General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan said, and I quote:

“Good governance is perhaps the single most important factor in eradicating poverty and promoting development.”

 

We agree.

Likewise, we agree with a recent assessment made by the World Bank that states that good governance addresses economic institutions and public sector management through the inclusion of transparency, accountability, regulatory reform, and public sector skills and leadership.

Regrettably, few if any of these are present in the governance of Belize today.

Since  this  UDP  administration  has  taken  office  in  2008,  it  has  firmly  established  itself  as  a government of incompetence and corruption.

We see this in their inability to manage our country’s finances, balance their budgets, keep our people safe and secure Belize’s territorial integrity.

What we have is an arrogant, vindictive and corrupt leadership that remains unapologetic about its rogue behavior.

Today, Belizeans experience an oppressive culture of unabashed political corruption that has brought our beloved country to its lowest point in our political history.

The actions of ministers and senior officials have resulted in a bankrupt treasury, a Public Service in disrepute, the illicit enrichment of their Party supporters and cronies and left the integrity and reputation of every branch of government in question.

The have brought shame to our country.

This is not the Belize we wish to live in and this is not the leadership our people deserve.

A nation needs leaders who not only have vision but who possess qualities like decency and respect.

Belizeans want leaders who collaborate and possess the capacity to bring people together. Belizeans do not need leaders that foster divisions.

We need innovation and competence. We have had enough inaction and incompetence.

What Belize needs now more than ever is not some tough talking Prime Minister, but a leader who can unite people to strengthen institutions, manage our development and build Belize.

We believe the time has come to reestablish a credible and effective framework for good governance. It is time for governance that respects the Rule of Law as it is enshrined in the Belize Constitution.

The time has come to bring an end to the manipulation and subversion of our Belizean institutions by the greed and gluttony of those whose duty is to uphold their sanctity and integrity.

We need to restore the confidence and credibility of our public officials and the Public Service and forge a national culture that stands against corruption, prevents this now pervasive scourge of public authority abuses, and eradicates political persecution.

If we are to create a more fair and just society then we must see governance in terms beyond the management of our country’s affairs and consider it as the foundation of our development.

Meaningful and effective governance must result in actions that reflect our values. Our governance must be based on a commitment to honesty that goes beyond what we say and its reflection be seen in all we do.

And if this process includes a reconsideration of our very system of governance, then we are prepared to do so with the full involvement of the people.

However deep or broad the scope of this exercise in the determination of our governance, the result must be effective and fair so our actions benefit Belizeans at every level of society.

As Leader of the People’s United Party, I am happy to introduce to you this initiative.

It is rooted in our sincere commitment to a meaningful partnership with every Belizean for the effective governance of our nation must be a SHARED RESPONSIBILITY.

In just a moment, four members of the youth arm of our Party will present to you 11 recommendations.

These recommendations will form the basis of our consultations and are by no means exhaustive. They form the framework for what we hope to become a more comprehensive document.

We look forward to sharing our ideas with you and welcome your participation in our efforts to Build a Belize that works for all.

Independence Day Address By: Hon. John Briceño Leader of the Opposition Belmopan, Belize

 

21 September 2016 –Thirty-five years ago today the Father of our Nation the Rt. Hon. George Price said and I quote:

“Belize is a people with all the attributes of nationhood having one flag, one government, one constitution. Our mind imbues the democratic process. Our hand works the mixed economy. Our heart beats with social justice and our soul cherishes treasures of the spirit.”

Today is a day to reflect and remember those audacious words for they capture the very essence of our identity. They define us as a people who desire to live free, and who work to build a fair, just and better nation. And we will continue to do so.

Thirty-five years into this Belizean experiment, we stand here in awe of those who embarked on this important work. We must recognize and appreciate all who participated in the struggle that led to that historic 21st September 1981 and all who continued the work that has brought us to this 21st September 2016.

We take great pride in the knowledge that our Independence was not won on a battlefield with guns and bombs, but on a battlefield of ideas and aspirations, through determination and hard work.

We are the inheritors of a legacy built on the conviction that together we can and must serve our people and country, with humility, integrity and honour.

Let us remember that the work of nation building is never over and that it requires an unceasing commitment to defend those values articulated in the words of the preamble to our Constitution which recognizes that men and institutions remain free only when freedom is founded upon respect for moral and spiritual values and upon the rule of law.

Today too many of our people have become unhinged from those noble principles that define us as Belizeans.

The Belizean heart that beats with social justice has all but stopped, fatigued by the greed and selfishness that has taken root and given rise to ever increasing poverty in our nation. In a time of so much it is not right that so many Belizeans have so little. Think of what we are doing to our future, squandering it because so many of our talented youth are being left out of school and left behind.

The unfairness of rampant cronyism and cynicism which has crept into every aspect of our lives robs our young people of their dreams, it forces them to subscribe not to the principle that knowledge is valuable, but to the notion that the only value needed to succeed comes from who you know.

Thirty-five years after independence, too many of our children go to bed hungry and too many of our elderly beg in the streets.

Where is the fairness in that?

And where is the respect for the rule of law when so many of our young men and, yes, even women, die senseless deaths in our streets? Today a second generation of young Belizeans will be entombed in their fathers’ graves in this endless cycle of violent death.

Thirty-five years later, too many of our elders are too poor to have dignified golden years; instead they must keep their tired backs to the plough. We have rewarded their contribution and sacrifice with suffering. There is no justice in any of this; only social decay and we cannot store anything of value in a broken spirit.

No Independence Day treat can paper over that. No sweet sounding words can compensate for that.

I know some of you may question whether this is the occasion for such plain speech. Others may go further to question whether I, or the Party I represent, possess the moral authority to speak of such things on such a day.

I reply with an emphatic “yes”.

Was it not our National Hero Phillip Goldson who said that the time to save your country is before you lose it? Are we not a nation currently at risk and in the midst of an economic, social and moral recession? Is this not the appropriate time for some sober reflection? True, it can be said that during the last PUP administration all was not right, but neither were we all wrong. Yes, we all share blame for those things that have gone so wrong. No one is innocent or immune; none of us is without sin. But we cannot fix what is wrong unless together we recognize the causes and do the right thing. We must fix it.

To show our commitment to good governance on Monday Parliamentarians of the People’s United Party presented our declaration of assets to the National Assembly.

We look forward to the day when we can do so to a fully constituted Integrity Commission and we welcome the news that the Government will sign the UN Convention against Corruption. Yes, more needs to be done, but it is a start.

We who chose to offer ourselves as political and civic leaders must never forget that our work should not be about personal gain, but about service to others, particularly the poor and disadvantaged. The sense of arrogance and entitlement we see in too many of our leaders creates a hurdle to our social and economic development.  It hinders progress and destroys our people’s confidence in our democratic and political process and leads to further erosion of our national development.

If we are to be honest, then we must recognize that too much of the greed and selfish behavior we see being displayed by those in high office is hindering our development and we must take the necessary actions to put a stop to it.

But all is not lost, for we know that when we face adversity as a united people we prevail. We know that just as we overcame the obstacles that hindered our independence movement in the 60s and 70s we will overcome the challenges of our time. No, we cannot allow our spirit to sink because so much has gone wrong. We have never feared the future, for we are a people who live in hope and in the conviction that God willing, there are brighter days ahead. And Belizeans like the auditor general give us hope, our teachers give us hope, our children in the farthest corners of our nation gives us hope.

Throughout history we have seen that change comes from the bottom-up. This is why we uphold our democratic principles and believe that it is only through the ballot that we hold those who govern accountable for their actions. Belizeans expect and demand that their leaders always seek to do what is right, and when we do not, the people remind us in whose hands the real power lies.

“la patria, según el político y escritor cubano Jose Martí, es dicha, dolor y no feudo ni capellanía de nadie.” Nosotros todos somos dueños y señores de esta tierra y de este pueblo y debemos todos aceptar la responsabilidad de lo que aquí sucede. Estamos enfrentando una crisis profunda que no nos permite desarrollar y nos hunde cada día más.

Compatriotas, Belice es una nación que ha sido bendecida con abundantes recursos naturales, con una diversidad cultural inigualable, con una población joven y enérgica, con la experiencia de nuestros mayores y con la fortaleza única de nuestras mujeres; todo esto nos da las herramientas necesarias para salir de la profunda crisis en que ahora nos encontramos y que no nos permiten desarrollar.

Este pueblo necesita un gobierno que tenga el bienestar de todo beliceño no solo de algunos como objetivo final. Juntos tenemos que hacer el esfuerzo para salvar la patria del abismo. ¡Juntos debemos de trabajar para asegurar que nuestro pueblo salga adelante.

If we are to live up to the expectations of those who worked so hard for our independence, we must see it as our sacred duty to defend and protect our nation from those domestic threats that impede our progress as well as those threats that may come from an increasingly hostile neighbour. We must remain sovereign and strong and together as one in defense of our territorial integrity. We must remain forever clear in our minds and actions that we will never, ever, surrender one square centimeter of what is rightfully Belizean territory.

Ladies and Gentlemen, fellow Belizeans, we face the future much like those who less than two generations ago faced it, confident that together we can realize the aspirations set down in our constitution. Today we are confident that together we can build a Belize that works for everyone. And can proudly proclaim that we fulfilled Mr. Price’s vision of a Belize where our hands work towards the promise of prosperity; our hearts beat fervently with social justice and where our soul cherishes freedom, equality, and those treasures of the spirit.

To our visitors here with us today, thank you for sharing this moment with us. And to every Belizean at home and abroad we say: Long Live Belize!  Que Viva Belice!  Happy Independence Day

 

Emancipation Day Message by the Hon. John Briceño Leader of the People’s United Party

One hundred and eighty-two years ago today, the British, by an act of Parliament, brought an end to slavery so that today across the world we can celebrate Emancipation Day.

Lest we forget, slavery was cruel, despicable and among the most inhumane acts committed on any civilization. We must never forget and always commit that never again will we allow such barbarism to occur.

During that terrible time in our history, more than 2,300 slaves were brought to Belize suffering that perilous journey through the middle passage. The conditions were rough and slave owners did everything to separate the slaves and create divisions. That is why on this day we remember those determined men like Will and Sharper who in 1820 braved the odds and managed to organize the slaves in revolt, asserting their right and their dignity as human beings, refusing to have their minds enslaved.

We have all been inspired by the words of Marcos Garvey made so famous by the late, great Bob Marley which says: “Emancipate yourself from mental slavery.” Indeed the history of how we the people of the Caribbean recovered from this great crime against humanity should always serve as an example of how much we can overcome. All of us must learn and be inspired by our ancestors and answer the call to fight for social justice and equality.

Here at home we live in a nation where still too many of our people suffer the bondage of poverty; violence is bringing a new kind of fear to once happy and peaceful communities; and corruption is strangling our progress. Too many of our children are denied the right to a quality education and too many of our women are still victims of physical and mental abuse. We must emancipate ourselves from this form of modern day oppression.

We must use the lessons of our own history to inspire in us the determination of those slaves who never gave up on freedom. They ran away with nothing and built free settlements along the River.

Today, when we teach our children of the barbarity of slavery, let us remind them that from this great human tragedy came the unbreakable will of men and women who never gave up on freedom, and the right to live as free human beings.

Emancipation firmly planted the seeds for our constructive, progressive and peaceful revolution; it should also inspire in us a fervent desire to “Serve the People” through social, economic and environmental justice. So that on this Emancipation Day let us be bold and brave like our ancestors were bold and brave and let us commit that together we will build a Belize that works for everyone.

Statement by: Hon. John Briceño Leader, People’s United Party On the Miami Sellout Agreement of BTL

Wednesday, 20th July 2016 — As to another crucial issue that we are all confronted with; I cannot allow today to past without talking about the “Miami Sellout Agreement” that the Prime Minister has shackled us with. And I truly believe that the PM and his advisors did not fully understand what it would truly cost the Belizean people when he nationalize BTL in 2009. At this point in time, and looking back at it, the nationalization of BEL and BTL were solely for political mileage and nothing else. Since 2009, the Belizean people have not seen their quality of life improve. The service at BTL has gotten worse and the cost of electricity has increased and will be increasing again on Friday.

I listened keenly this morning to the PM’s interview on Love FM. He tried to explain this scandalous and some are  saying,  illegal  Sellout  Agreement  that  the  Prime Minister alone brokered in Miami with Lord Ashcroft. It was clear that the Prime Minister has some serious shortcomings understanding the financials of a company. There were instances during the interview whereby he did not know if he was talking about revenues, profits, cash flow or dividends. He simply put, confused all the numbers.

The truth is, this BTL fiasco, starting with the nationalization and all the way to the Miami Sellout Agreement was all about Dean Barrow and his UDP politricks.

Ask yourselves the question: Who benefited from this fiasco? Certainly Lord Ashcroft benefited handsomely. But it does not end there! Since the nationalization in 2009, who has been the Chairman of BTL? Who is the

CEO of BTL? None other than the Prime Minister’s son, Anwar Barrow. Who is the lawyer representing BTL? Who are the Board members of BTL? And you should ask how much they are being paid? The reality is that only UDP cronies and Lord Ashcroft have benefited from this Sellout. While they have benefited, we the people have lost our future. $557m of it plus interest.

Here are some of the cold hard facts. The people of Belize are saddled with a debt of $557 million for a company that is not even worth $100m and the government has not explained how we will repay this massive   debt.   They   have   explained   that   they   will borrow, but they have failed to explain how we will pay.

They have said that they can borrow at 3.25%. What is 3.25% on $557mn dollars. That is over $18mn in interest alone per year. Dean Barrow has said BTL will make  $100mn  in  dividends  over  10  years.  That  is

$10mn a year in dividends. So in the simplest of terms, the cost of buying this company is not only $557mn but an additional $18mn a year on top and what do we get in return? $10mn a year in dividends. How does that make any sense? Every year we lose $8mn and we still have to find $557mn on top to pay for this continuing loss. Where will that money come from if it is not coming from BTL? Is he going to raise taxes?

The Prime Minister did not say no to new or increased taxes on Love FM this morning. Is he going to cut government expenses by firing people? Only Prime Minister Barrow and his closest advisors know how the punishment will be doled out on the Belizean people.

Statement by: Hon. John Briceño Leader, People’s United Party On the murder of Pastor Llewylen Lucas

Good morning ladies and gentlemen of the press and thank you for joining us here today at our Party Headquarters.

First I would like to express our sincere condolence to the family, friends and congregation of Mr. Llewylen Lucas, Pastor Lue and to all those families who lost loved ones to violent death these past weeks and months.

We asked you here today because a Belizean, a pastor no less, is dead, butchered in the most horrific and gruesome of ways – his head cut off and put on ice in a bucket.

This severed head was carried around in the pan of a pick-up owned by a man who rubs shoulders with people in the highest of places, from the very corridors of Belizean power.

Now we all know that in our country a person is innocent until proven guilty. But everything I just said has to give us pause. It should shock and jolt each of us.

More than that, from the reactions of Belizeans everywhere, there are too many unanswered questions and Belizeans are demanding not only answers, but JUSTICE, to ensure that an act of this nature never happens in our country again.

This heinous act and those connected to it comes at a time of unprecedented levels of violence in our country. It therefore requires a serious analysis of where we are, and where we are to go from here. And as a responsible opposition we will do our part to insist that no stone is left on turned in this matter.

Our reliable information says that the chief suspect, William Mason, who is also known as Danny and as Ted Ouelette and/or Ramesh Quelette, a Guyanese national, also considered to have Canadian nationality and who for a while lived

in the United States and who is known to be involved in all kinds of unsavory and seedy operations, enjoyed friendships and relationships with the most senior of Cabinet Ministers in our country.

Our reliable reports are that a Mennonite corn farmer was introduced to Mr. Mason by a minister of Government. It is alleged that contracted Mr. Mason to import corn on his behalf – $300,000 worth of corn.

Mr. Mason, however, never delivered the corn, and after multiple queries from the concerned Mennonite businessman, Mr. Mason allegedly kidnapped the man and his wife at gunpoint and demanded more money.

This we are told was reported to the police, yet Mr. Mason was never detained, much less arrested and charged.

When asked at a Ministry of National Security press conference on Monday why Mr. Mason was never arrested, Acting Commissioner Russell Blackett said, Mr. Mason is and I quote, “a very cunning guy. The location that he is located for us to get in and search would have been problematic for us.” End of quote.

But that report was made two months ago.

Last month, Mr. William Mason, who is at various times a pig farmer and corn importer, a chef, a semi-pro sports investor and yes, a political financier, emerged at a National Emergency press conference here in Belize City as one of the Government’s search and rescue experts. He was even interviewed on national television.

So Mr. Blackett is saying they can’t get this man, because reaching him is “problematic,” and while they can’t find him, he is giving interviews on national television. Given all this, we believe that the police have much more explaining to do.

 

We also believe that had the police acted on the report of Mr. Dodd, the Mennonite corn farmer and arrested Mason, Pastor Lue would probably be alive today.

According to none other than the Minister of National Security, last year around September, the Police provided him with such damaging information on Mr. Mason, that it forced him to sever all ties to Mr. Mason.

Minister Saldivar said that since then he has had absolutely no contact with the accused. Minister Saldivar confessed that Mr. Mason had helped to sponsor his very expensive Belmopan Bandits semi-pro football team but insisted quote, “he has never contributed to my political campaign.” End of quote.

We won’t argue with National Security Minister Saldivar whether financing his semi-pro team isn’t part and parcel of financing his political campaign, but in September of last year, both the Police and Minister Saldivar had an opportunity to bring in Mr. Mason for questioning and possible arrest and expulsion from Belize, and they didn’t. If they had, we submit, Pastor Lucas would probably be alive today.

If indeed Mr. Saldivar severed ties with Mr. Mason last September on the strength and advice of the police that this man, his business associate, at least in the football club, had an unsavoury background then the question is: When and how did Mr. Mason qualify for and receive multiple gun licenses from the Police Department?

If he received them after September of last year, then the Police and the National Security Minister have some serious explaining to do. And if he received the gun licenses before September of last year, then we must ask: Why weren’t those licenses immediately cancelled?

Also, why wasn’t Mr. Mason hauled before the Immigration Department since the internet reports, the same one Mr. Saldivar said he had received, showed Mr. Mason to be actually named Ramesh Quellett and the holder of both Canadian and Guyanese nationalities?

A further investigation would have also revealed that the man was removed from Canada because he was convicted of possession of prohibited or restricted firearm with ammunition in August of 2006.

While Minister Saldivar must answer many many questions about how this man was able to get multiple gun licenses, even when a simple Google search turned up so much that brings his character into question, Immigration Minister Godwin Hulse also has a lot more explaining to do.

On Monday Minister Hulse blamed Vital Statistics for the fact that foreigners are able to get bogus certificates and eventually end up with Belizean passports. The question is: what has the Government done to ensure that these perennial violations and acts of corruption are stopped?

If William Mason, a man who is the lead suspect in the cutting off of the head of a Belizean pastor, could get a bogus birth certificate, who is to say whether other dangerous international criminals and terrorists haven’t been able to do the same and eventually get Belizean passports?

We recall the case 4 years ago of Rafik Mohammed Allaboun, who was an alleged Hezbollah affiliate, and who was found in Mexico with a Belize passport he got in 48 hours using the birth paper of a Mennonite, Wilhelm Dyck, who had died 26 years earlier in Shipyard.

How it is that in such a short time and without any questions asked, a foreigner, with such a shady past, that can be found simply by going on to the internet, could have swindled his way right into the circles of some of the most powerful people in our government?

This is a man who was functioning at various times as a National Emergency search and rescue expert. He is corn importer, the Prime Minister referred to him as operating a piggery; he is a semi-pro sports investor, a campaign financier, a tour operator and even world-class chef – posing for photos with the current head of the GSU and a senior public officer and now we know he hosted the Deputy Leader of the UDP and Minister of Education at his home.

Most important however is how all of this connects Mr. Mason to a modest pastor who is also connected to the Minister of National Security? This case screams out for urgent action on many fronts.

From better vetting and scrutiny of those who apply for residence and nationality status to campaign financing laws. It cannot be that any foreign national can enter our country and waltz right into the hands of our most senior Cabinet Ministers.

It would seem that Mr. Mason, Quelette, Ramesh, Ferguson, whatever his name is, provided unlimited financing to well connected people and no doubt expected in return unlimited protection and financial gains.

Everything we know of this sordid affair between William Mason and members of Mr. Barrow’s Cabinet and by extension several police officers, lead us to believe that the Police cannot be expected to properly and exhaustively investigate this case.

We therefore demand that an international impartial investigator be immediately commissioned. We also demand that a fully qualified forensic expert be brought in to gather and analyze the forensic evidence.

All we have seen in the Penner Passport Scandal and the Edmund Castro Visa Scandal has convinced us that an impartial investigation is impossible under the circumstances.

In the case of the Penner Scandal, the Commissioner of Police had to be hauled to the Supreme Court and the Chief Justice had to issue a mandamus order for him to do his job and investigate Penner, a sacked Minister of State.

The Commissioner never did, and we all know the outcome of that case. To date we are yet to hear from the officer who is in charge of the Belmopan command and who was the person who was supposed to be in charge of the case from the onset.

A life has been lost here, in a most gruesome and heinous manner. No loss of life is trivial, but the way Pastor Lucas was viciously murdered and the people connected to this case demands thorough scrutiny of the Police Minister and several senior members of the Police Department.

In light of this, I call on the Prime Minister to urgently remove the Minister of Police from his post. We believe he can no longer be expected to preside impartially and without fear or favour over the Ministry of National Security, plus his record with respect to keeping Belizeans safe is far from outstanding.

While at it, the head of the GSU should be made to stand down, his character is now questionable and also the Minister of Education and Youth by his imprudent association to an international con artist should at the very least be publicly reprimanded.

We call on the PM to immediately reinstate the Crime Control Commission to be chaired by the Chief Justice and include the participation of Civil Society, the Churches and other social partners.

Also, we call for massive investment in programs and infrastructure especially in the south side of Belize City to address the challenges that our youth face every day.

Let us use existing resources like our school campuses to conduct night classes for our at risk youth with courses like music, chess, karate, nail sculpting, hair styling, sewing, sports, painting, arts and so on. This has been tested and proven successful in high crime neighbours in places like Brazil. We must do more to stem the violence that is destroying our youth and our future.

Ladies and gentlemen of the press a man is dead and in the most gruesome and horrific of ways. The people of Belize demand answers.

STATEMENT BY THE PEOPLE’S UNITED PARTY ON THE LATEST ACT OF AGGRESSION BY THE REPUBLIC OF GUATEMALA

April 22, 2016 — Belize desires to live in peace with all its neighbours, including the Republic of Guatemala, on the basis of respect for the rule of law, international law and the peaceful settlement of disputes.

The statement by the President of Guatemala yesterday, constitutes a direct challenge to the independence of Belize, to our territorial integrity and to our desire to coexist peacefully in this region. The President’s statement was provocative and inflammatory. We regard it as a threat to peace and tranquility.

The decision by the President of Guatemala to amass troops on the longstanding and permanent border between our two countries is a brazen and irresponsible threat to peace. It is an unnecessary and irresponsible escalation of force. It is not responding to any threat by Belize to Guatemala. It is unprovoked. We demand that Guatemala takes immediate steps to discourage illegal activities and restore peace along  the  border.  Guatemalan troops must be withdrawn, and withdrawn now.

The PUP unconditionally rejects this threat and challenge by the Republic of Guatemala.

While we sincerely regret the loss of lives of both Belizeans and Guatemalans, it is Guatemala’s responsibility to comply with its solemn duty to actively dissuade its citizens from illegally entering Belize and from destroying our country and plundering our resources I therefore call on Guatemala to take effective measures to ensure that its citizens desist from violating the laws of Belize.

Both Belize and Guatemala share the Sarstoon River in accordance with treaties and international law. Therefore, the statement by the President of Guatemala that Guatemala intends to exercise sovereignty over the Sarstoon and to deploy military forces to enforce that declaration is a dangerous breach of international law. The People’s United Party rejects this assertion of sovereignty absolutely.

My fellow Belizeans, now more than ever we must come together as a people united and resolved in our determination to defend Belize from the Hondo to the Sarstoon. The PUP calls on the Government to urgently take every measure required to peacefully defend our sovereignty and territorial integrity.

But our Government needs to make us all real partners in this process. The PUP has experience and expertise to contribute. The people must be fully informed and constantly consulted, and not be ignored and taken for granted. This is a very emotional issue for Belizeans, and rightly so. Our people require and demand strong leadership in these difficult days.

We call for the immediate recall of Belize’s ambassador to Guatemala for consultations. A carefully designed diplomatic offensive must now be launched to garner international support for the vindication of our territorial integrity and sovereignty.

I restate my Party’s firm commitment, our sacred pledge, to work tirelessly in a national effort to achieve a return to normalcy.

 

I call on our international friends to join us, at this dangerous hour in our history, to reaffirm and guarantee our sovereignty and territorial integrity, and join us in condemning the Republic of Guatemala for its flagrant breach of international law.

Belizeans, let us work patriotically and proudly to preserve and defend our beautiful jewel.

 

We ask for God’s blessings, grace and protection.