YaYa Marin Coleman, Belizean Activist advocating for the robust protection of Belize’s borders, has been marching solo every Thursday for the past four weeks.
On Thursday she was joined by a handful of 3rd year students from the University of Belize, enrolled in the Social Work Program.
Social Work Lecturer, Fermin Olivera, told us why it was important for his students to get a taste of life on the front line.
“Social Work is a very engaging profession, one that is at the forefront of addressing human suffering and the suffering of venerable people.
While we acknowledge that social workers are working very hard, probably this aspect of what is truth or profession, the public advocacy, the being out there, is maybe more of a silent aspect.
We’re really trying for social workers to make a little change. This public advocacy is to teach them to engage public policy and the key players in a very frontal and direct way, clearly respectfully.
This is the opportunity that they chose, and I’m here to lend moral support, as I believe is my duty as a lecturer for the course.”
“It has been amazing. I’ve learned a lot from her.
Emmanuel Pech – Plus News
“Explain the feedback that you’re getting from the people that come and go.”
“I sense support, but to me people are afraid to speak for what they want. They sit down and just take everything that comes to them, but refuse to make a stand. More people need to stand up and fight for what they want.
Just recently we watched the news that they killed the policeman who was patrolling for the borders. I think we need more security and protection for Belizeans.”
Also joining their ranks were two very senior activists who say they have enough battle wounds to prove their time spent on the front line.
“It has been raised that a lot of people are in support of this initiative, they are not here physically. What are your comments on that?”
“I think most people are afraid, especially if it has anything to do with the US, because so many Belizeans have relatives that are there, and they’re back and forth. They don’t want to jeopardise anything that will hurt their chances to go, or to hurt their families’ chances to come back. I think that plays a part, aside from the people who are afraid of losing their jobs.
It’s mostly fear, it’s not that they don’t believe. It’s because they’re afraid of the consequences, which they don’t really know what they are.
“What we feel is that we need to have Belize’s borders protected, secured, and delineated. That’s the reason YaYa is out here. We believe that when somebody takes a stand, and it’s something that we agree with, then it’s really our duty to come out and join them, to show our support, and to say ‘We’re with you in the struggle, and you’re not alone.'”
” This is the first time that we’ve actually seen a handful of people actually coming out here to support you. How do you feel about that? Do you feel like the message is getting across?”
“Well there not here to support me. Let’s get that straight. They’re here because they believe in the cause that I represent. It’s good.
I felt good when the lecturer contacted me, and told me that he would come out and he would bring some students who are in the UB Social Sciences Program. It was good.
Then George and Candy contacted me yesterday and told me that they would be out here as well for a short time. I was very, very excited that I was a part of the process where we would get to see the baton being passed from elders, because George and Candy Gonzales are international activists, imprisoned many times, simply because they believed that they could be a part of the process to create change.
To listen, and to be a part of the conversation that they were sharing as they inspire future activists, was exciting for me and hopeful when it comes to future changes for Belize.”
Starting Next week, YaYa Marin will also hold demonstrations every Monday in front of the Queen Street Police Station, Belize City, protesting against the inhumane conditions of the holding cells of police stations in the country.