The People’s United Party (PUP) says it has postponed, not cancelled, its planned educational trip to the Sarstoon River for party leaders that was scheduled for Saturday. According to an official statement from the party issued Saturday evening,
“..this unfortunate postponement in no way signals any acceptance of GOB’s unconstitutional SI, which unlawfully restricts the free movement of Belizeans inside our borders, and for the first time, appears to cede full control over the Sarstoon to Guatemala”
.. As for why the trip did not take place, the statement further claims,
“Government of Belize operatives have been operational in Punta Gorda Town and southern maritime areas recently. By “operational” we mean that there has reportedly been overt intimidation of licensed boat captains and charter groups. That resulted in an 11th hour cancellation of charter arrangements made weeks ago. Those cancellations made it virtually impossible for us to make the trip to the Sarstoon”.
Speaking with us earlier on Saturday in an interview by telephone, party chairman Henry Charles Usher expanded on this, laying direct blame at the feet of the Government for threatening the livelihoods of any operators who assisted the PUP in Saturday’s planned exercise. Usher also told us that the party intends to continue with its constitutional challenge to the Public Safety Act Regulations Sarstoon Order, 2016, after the first hearing was adjourned on Friday at the Supreme Court:
Henry Charles Usher, Chairman of the People’s United Party: Late last night the party made the decision to cancel the trip due to the fact that we’ve been receiving a lot of word from our boat captains and different owners of the vessels that they’re being pressured not to take us to the Sarstoon. It is very disappointing, the level of vindictiveness and aggression that the Government is showing on this issue. We were planning a peaceful mission to the Sarstoon and they’re threatening them to have their license revoked and boats being confiscated, even jail terms if we got to that and as a result of that we didn’t want to put anybody in undue risk and so we decided late last night to cancel the trip. The persons that are in the positions to make these threats are the ones that obviously made the thing, because no one can say your license will be revoked or your boat will be impounded or anything like that, you have to be in a position of authority for that. We are also challenging the SI in court today. The case management was held on Friday, and we will proceed with that challenge. You are right in saying that the time frame for this particular SI will expire sometime this week , we’re not sure if it will be extended or not but if anything we still maintain the position that the SI is still unconstitutional, that it was unnecessary and it was an abuse of power by the Prime Minister and by the Government.