2nd Vice President of the National Trade Union Congress of Belize (NTUCB) Audrey Matura-Shepherd last week went on record to call for the removal of Senator Ray Davis as representative of the trade unions in the upper legislature, following his vote of abstention on the Petrocaribe Loan Act of 2015. Davis is now saying he wrote to the body asking for guidance on the vote but did not receive a response. Matura-Shepherd has responded, first saying that nothing excuses how Davis voted and says he failed to exercise his common sense based on the Congress’ previous position statements which she contends he knew about.
“I don’t know about the document you are talking about, sadly I didn’t see the news. However, I can tell you, there was a meeting sometime earlier this year just after I became the 2nd vice president in which I had objected before on how he voted on the cane issue and how he voted before on the petrocaribe money. And so, I was one of the persons who suggested, clearly before my time, they had to be a process in place but I was not satisfied with the process – if there was one. Because I, parallely to what I know, the Chamber of Commerce does where senator Lizarraga has a court team at advises them immediately. There was not a vote taken on it – however, I’ve always made myself available. But I am not the sole person to give advice. But on this particular issue, I don’t want the issue to be clouded by any other thing anybody else wants to say – other than Mr. Davis if he wants to be honest can revile to you all the paper he read when the petrocaribe loan money issue came up. The position was clear what he took, the position that he stated then was clearly against the petrocaribe loan money, how it is being spent, etc. I don’t see how, having given that as the statement then, which he read to us that night we had that special general council meeting – and you all were outside waiting to interview him. That day he had the document to read what the position of the union is. So no matter what excuse he makes now, he knew what the position was, he wrote it down, he read it out before the senate, he read to us at that meeting, so it does not justify then – how come if you know all of that, that then you can abstain? The fact that now you are using some kind of semantics to exonerate yourself is neither here or there for me. It doesn’t work.”
Matura-Shepherd says she does not believe that the veteran unionist needed his hand to be held on the issue. Davis has also noted privately that the unions hold positions on the Board of Belize Infrastructure Limited (BIL) and that teachers and public officers directly benefit from the funds used to start the National Bank of Belize. Her pointed response is that Davis never raised these issues with the Congress, saying instead that he felt “pigeonholed” by having to vote on the issue and being identified as being in favour of or against such an important bill.
Well I don’t know where you get all that information from but I will tell you one thing. Yes the union is represented on BIL and on BIL it’s magistrate Sharon Fraizer that sits there and she comes back and reports regularly. She doesn’t wait to see who will call her or not, she comes and she reports and she tell you plain, what you think about this. She acts very responsible. In terms of being compromised, let me first tell you – if Mr. Davis wants to be honest, when he asked at the union meeting, that special general council meeting where you all lay wait him and asked for an interview. He never gave these reasons you all are giving his abstention you know. His reason was simply, he never want to vote yes, because they will say he is siding with the people that are yes. And he didn’t want to vote no, because if he voted now, he would side with the people who said no and he felt pigeon hold and I am paraphrasing you exactly as I could. Where in that explanation did he say all of what you said. After the fact now, he is considering a defense. For me, it doesn’t wash but for whoever it washes, I don’t mind. I am standing by my point on this issue and I have no problem with him having a different view. I have all due respect to him and him having an opinion – fine, but at the end of the day, he is not representing himself and if he felt pigeon hold then it’s time for him to resign or the union has to make a decision to have him moved. I know he had a special meeting in Belmopan and I won’t say with whom and all but I will say, Thursday I will find out what went on. “
The NTUCB continues to deliberate on the fate of Davis’ Senate position.