While they have officially given the Prime Minister 21 days to repeal the 2015 Petrocaribe Loans Act, the People’s United Party took the opportunity provided by today’s Prime Ministerial press conference in Belize City to create the first major political showdown after their thumping electoral losses this year and against the backdrop of coming elections. Leading a group of about 200 protestors in front of the Belize Biltmore Plaza Hotel, PUP leader Francis Fonseca reiterated the party’s stance that the Act is wrong for Belize.[PUP
“We are not against the Petrocaribe program, we’ve made that very clear; it is the P.U.P. that initiated that program. But we are very much against the manner in which this U.D.P. government and this prime minister is implementing and executing that program. It is all about using that money for their own party, political purposes and using it as if they have to account to no one. And the law that Mister Barrow passed two weeks ago is all about that. It is a good law for Mister Barrow, but it is a bad and dangerous law for Belize. It is a law that strikes at the very heart of governance in Belize; it is a law that strikes at democracy in Belize and it is not only the People’s United Party that is saying that. The churches have said it, the Chamber of Commerce has said it, Civil Society has said it; the N.T.U.C.B. has said it. All of us are saying that this is a bad law for Belize. it must be repealed and so today we are taking a stand at the opportunity that Mister Barrow is having a press conference to bring this matter to light, to bring it to the attention of the Belizean people and this will continue and lead up to wider, larger, more national protest across the country because we believe that the Belizean people want this bad law to go.”
Fonseca says the UDP have abandoned and left aside those who helped bring it to power in 2008 on the triple towers of accountability, transparency and good governance.
“The question is, who does he represent? If the churches, the Chamber of Commerce, the Opposition, the National Trade Union Congress of Belize are all saying to you as the leader of this country that it is a bad law that must be repealed, it is a law that takes us back to before 2005 where people were crying out for accountability and transparency and the P.U.P government at the time passed the Audit Reform Act. Now this law takes us all the way back to those days when there was no accountability, no transparency. So it is a betrayal. This is a very important point. Mr. Barrow’s actions ans this law is a betrayal of the very people who helped him to form the government and to become the Prime Minister of Belize. Now that he is rolling around in PetroCaribe money, in his usual arrogance, he is saying that he doesn’t need any of them. ‘I have PetroCaribe money the elections are all about PetroCaribe. I don’t need the Unions anymore, I don’t need the Chamber of Commerce any more, I don’t need Civil Society.’ That is the message that he is delivering to the Belizean people and we have to stand up against it and say, ‘he is not the King of Belize, he is not the Dictator or Belize. He is the Prime Minister of Belize and he must listen to the people of this country.'”
Both the PUP and Vision Inspired by the People (VIP) have promised street protests if the Act is not repealed immediately.