The Federation of Cruise Tourism Associations of Belize (FECTAB) is a grassroots organization which has been on the frontline of the daily battles within the cruise tourism industry. They have previously been critical of foreign investors with an outsize agenda coming to Belize and “taking over” from Belizean interests. On Wednesday, they outlined all the reasons why they object to the present Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed between the Government and Belize Island Holdings, a company owned and controlled by Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL). Here is President Tom Greenwood.
Tom Greenwood – President , FECTAB:
FECTAB takes this position: This entire MOU is not right. It’s wrong in many places. It has made mistakes. Those mistakes could easily have been corrected by proper consultation, an open thing. There are people pushing it. They have their own reasons. There are courts of law. You may not say certain things. The Cruise Federation is very upset at how this entire thing is affecting and disaffecting the nation of Belize. We are very sympathetic to the people of the South, and the tremendous need for work and all that. We’re sympathetic with that. We fully understand that. But if that is corrected at the cost of something else, how does that work? You’ve got two neighbours. Both are starving. And then you feed this one, when you know you could feed this one and that one.
Tom Greenwood blasted the architects of the MOU for failing to properly consult with the affected as well as consider the ramifications for the industry as established in Belize City. Operator Yonnhy Rosado of Cavetubing.com reminded the audience, many of whom are his friendly rivals, that this is about bread and butter. He likened the deal to slavery.
Yohnny Rosado – Cavetubing.com:
Like we have said, we have noticed that this is a new slavery-type. Myself owning a business, you’re welcome. Tom Greenwood, you own a business, we don’t like you. [If] any one of you own a business, you have to work for us, in order to be a good Belizean boy. If you try to work for yourself, you’re going to starve, you know. If you work for us, we’re going to pay Social Security, we’re going to pay all taxes, everything. And at the end of the day, when something goes missing, when something is broken, you get fired, and all the promises are gone right there. Guys, I just want to finish by reminding our Belizean people that I saw on the media, there was a big project right outside of Belize City, Stake Bank. The last thing I heard in the media was that it’s ready to begin. They just had to do something with the amenities, and from then [they] move on.
Another lieutenant of Mr Greenwood, David Almendarez, pointed the finger at those in authority for selling out.
David Almendarez – Fantasea Belize:
You see these Norwegian executives get [up] and paint a pretty picture. This has been happening from the time of the Mayans. They’ve been painting pretty pictures about our country, telling us of why out assets are not so valuable, we’re not utilizing it. We would have foreigners come to our country, and tell us how to use our assets, and how to manage our assets, and we as a country in 2013 will accept this. It’s horrendous if we as a people accept this. It stinks from the bottom up. It’s for a few dollars more, and to send a few privileged people to law school, to send a few privileged people to [become] doctors, to come back and become lawyers and politicians, and to keep this system going. It’s time to put an end to this. It doesn’t make tourism sense. It doesn’t make common sense. It’s for a few dollars more.
According to Tom Greenwood, if the people are interested enough, the project will go down.
Tom Greenwood – President , FECTAB:
So help me God, folks. If we as a people do not rail up and stab to the heart this kind of nonsense… Godwin Hulse, what happened to you, the brother? I mean, you started up as an icon for us, and I respect you for that because you’ve got a big mouth like me, you’re ready to talk. Godwin, you’re a part of this. Michael Singh, I’ve only got one word for you, boss. I can’t use it on television. Suffice it to say, that you, Michael Singh, sitting at the head of this, are going to cause damage, you’re causing damage, to a whole load of people.
FECTAB indicated that they have been virtually ignored by the establishment on issues like these.