Yesterday Leader of the Opposition John Briceño confirmed that his People’s United Party (PUP)’s intends to travel south to the Sarstoon and spoke about why the party feels it must go this weekend. The PUP leader also discussed the partnership with civil society, who will not be a major part of their trip down south on Saturday. Briceño says that’s not their fault:
John Briceno, Leader of the People’s United Party: What we said is that we want to invite them into to the work that we’re doing but it has been difficult to get boats. As you know that many of the boat owners have been threatened, they’re concerned that they may lose their licenses, and they throw all sorts of obstacles in their hands so it’s difficult to get those kinds of boats to go down south. We have secured just enough to be able to take the National Executive and some other leaders in the party, so what we want to do is that once this is finish and if we can plan another trip, then definitely we want to be able to bring more people so that they could see first had what is happening in the Sarstoon.
Briceño yesterday dismissed any qualms Guatemala may have with their trip. But should Belizeans have any reason to feel optimistic about the negotiations this weekend in Istanbul, Turkey? Briceño says yes, but keep in mind what else is happening to our west:
John Briceno, Leader of the People’s United Party: I think that we need to look at it from the perspective of the Guatemalans. Guatemala is having major major problems, internal problems, and as usual what do they do, they try to use this issue of wanting to take over Belize as they been saying claiming Belize to divert attention from their real problems. We know that 10’s of thousands of Guatemalans have been on the streets protesting the Government, and they have a pretty much a failed government. Does that lead us to be cautiously optimistic? Well whenever there’s talks I think there has to be some sense of optimism, just that the idea that we’re talking and that we are starting to put across very strongly our position to point out that what the Guatemalans are doing are wrong, that there has never been a protocol as to what they claim, as to the BDF needs to ask permission to go on the Sarstoon River. So just the idea that we’re talking, I think there’s some sense of Optimism. We just need to continue pressing to make sure that we make sure our case and to ensure that we are not going to give not one single square centimeter of this country.
And Briceno points out that the Guatemala issue has become too much of a distraction to a country that faces many other ills
John Briceno, Leader of the People’s United Party: Certainly you can make the case that, I’m not in any way suggesting that the government is happy as to what is taking place there but it certainly has afforded them an opportunity to divert attention from the other pressing problems that we have in this country. And we in the opposition have not forgotten those issues, we have brought it up in the Belize Times, we bring it up in our Talk Show, and pretty soon we’re going to have a full press conference where we’re going to talk about these issues. We have the issue of BTL where this because of the folly of this government, or their hubris, or their arrogance, or their pride, it’s going to cost hundreds of millions of dollars to the Belizean tax payers, monies that we can’t afford. Let’s not forget they blew away $325,000,000.00 in 2 years. In the last month of the election it was 44.7 Million dollars that they just blew away for them to win the election. So now the treasurer is broke, and we have to find hundreds of millions of dollars to pay because the agreement that the Prime Minister signed on behalf of the country was pretty much that whatever the courts decide, he is going to live up to that so we have that. We have the issue of crime, where I mean once again it’s rearing its ugly head where our young people are shooting one another, they’re killing one another. It’s really a major concern in this country. We have the issue of the economy that it is slowing down. Now all of that Petro Caribe money that was just thrown on a wild binge or a wild party before elections, now that money has been working its way through the economy, so now that money is drying up, and so now the economy itself is starting to contract. People are starting to see that there is no money circling in the economy. Yes we have it in the banks but it’s no good in the banks if people don’t have some in their pockets.
The PUP plans a press conference to address other issues they feel have been neglected in the frenzy over Guatemala.