At Saturday’s National Party Council meeting in Belize City at the Belize Elementary School Auditorium, the People’s United Party passed a resolution stating that it would rejoin the diplomatic effort to resolve the Guatemala crisis – if, in turn, Government rescinded the Public Safety Act regulations introduced on Friday, April 29. The PUP says they remain unconvinced, at least by Government, that there is no good and valid reason as to why they should not go to the Sarstoon. We hear from party chairman Henry Charles Usher:
Henry Charles Usher, Chairman, People’s United Party: I believe that if the government and the Prime Minister came to the public and said that escalations have eased, that the threat has been eased, then why the need for the law? Why the need to have a law restricting Belizeans? Why the need to have a law that punishes Belizeans to travel to a certain part of the country. We believe that the law is not only unconstitutional, but it is unwarranted, it is unnecessary in light of the negotiations happening. I think that it’s always a concern when we go out on any mission or any march…it’s always a concern in terms of the safety of the people we will ensure that is taken care of and we believe that as a Party and as a National Party Council that Belizeans have the right to travel peacefully in that area of Belize. I believe the Party Leader Hon. John Briceño has gone above and beyond his duty in terms of reaching out, in terms of working with the Prime Minister and working with the Foreign Minister and as a Party we have always believed that this issue, the Belize/Guatemala issue is a national issue and transcends Party politics, but at the same time there are certain elements within that issue that we have to demand not happen unilaterally. The government of Belize under Dean Barrow passed a law unilaterally. They did not consult us, and we believe that law is unconstitutional. They had meetings at Caricom, they had meetings in Washington and they gave very lame excuses as to why the Opposition was not invited to those meetings. If you want meaningful partnerships, if you want a respectful partnership, then you have to treat us with respect and you have to listen to what we’re saying as well
As an act of good faith, the party asks that the law be rescinded, otherwise they will continue with their plan to challenge it by visiting the Sarstoon within the 30-day period in which the law is in effect. The PUP will also maintain its planned constitutional challenge of the law. The trip to the Sarstoon should have taken place as early as Friday, but difficulties with transportation scuttled that plan.