A sea of red flooded the capital as thousands of people bearing UDP flags and wearing UDP shirts gathered at the foot of the Assembly building in Belmopan in support of the Prime Minister and the Alba Petrocaribe Belize Energy Limited Loan Motion, 2014.
The loan motion authorizes US $114, 307, 356 which was loaned to GOB from the fiscal years of 2012, 2013 and 2014.
The loan motion came under fire by the opposition after it was first introduced in the house on October 2nd of this year. The backwards loan motion, as some members in the opposition described it, has since been taken to the courts. So the Government, in response, rounded its troops today which resulted in the rally on Tuesday.
The Prime Minister and the UDP representatives rolled into the house to the applause of the crowd, as the PM danced to the days theme song that went something like “Roll it Petro-Caribe Roll it!”
Inside the house, as has become customary, fingers pointed at each other as the Belizean-Venezuelan Petro Caribe loan motion went under heated debate- a debate that took on the form of a Hugo Chavez love triangle.
Hon. Dean Barrow – Prime Minister
“Let me start by recollecting for the nation that the PetroCaribe framework agreement between Belize and Venezuela is part of a larger region-wide initiative of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, arising out of the vision of Comandante Hugo Chavis, Venezuela’s late President. That vision, as all the world knows, was rooted in a concern and love for the poor, and Comandante Chavis’ determination to improve the lot of the poor, not just in Venezuela, but throughout Latin America including, of course, Central America and the Caribbean.
We pay tribute, I’m sure the entirety of the House will join me in paying tribute to that vision, in paying tribute to Comandante Hugo Chavis, and in seeing that his work, his spirit, live on.
So we’re here now, Mr Speaker, and we point out again, that we came to the House well before this craven and opportunistic Opposition began its political and legal campaign against PetroCaribe. This started after the matter had been introduced, and after they knew that any irregularities they were complaining of would be taken care of.
So Mr Speaker, I would urge those on the other side for once, do the right thing. Listen to the people outside. Listen to the people all over this land, and support this motion. PetroCaribe, roll it!”
Francis Fonseca – Leader of the Opposition
“First with this very feeble attempt to suggest that because we are opposing this PetroCaribe Loan Motion that somehow we are opposed to the PetroCaribe Loan Program. Well nothing could be further from the truth. That is absolute nonsense. It is the PUP, it is the People’s United Party that was the architect of this program.
We were the ones. Mr Speaker, it was under the PUP, that Belize’s participation in this program was made possible, by the People’s United Party. It was the PUP Government, back in 2005, that went to Jamaica to sign on to the PetroCaribe Energy Appropriation Agreement, with other CARICOM nations. And it was in 2006 that the initial joint venture agreement between Belize and Venezuela was signed, forming the Alba PetroCaribe Belize Limited.
The Comendante must be rolling in his grave, when he heard the Prime Minister speaking this morning. It was he, as Leader of the Opposition, who tried to undermine the program, undermine it. Got right up here in the National Assembly and attacked the Venezuelan Government, and called Hugo Chavis a pseudo-nationalist. That was you, sir. That was you.
PetroCaribe money, that is what he’s good at, waving around the PetroCaribe money for political purposes, after their scandalous behavior in Cayo North-East.”
Hon. Gaspar Vega – Deputy Prime Minister
“Mr Speaker, I want to take this opportunity to thank President Maduro to be able to follow that vision that President Chavis, the Comendante Chavis, had, and that was to ensure that the less privileged can be afforded to go to school, that the less privileged can have something to eat on a daily basis. That is why we have our Poverty Alleviation Program.
Mr Speaker, something have to be wrong with them people ‘cross that side. How they want stop progress? How they want stop the less privileged from going to school? Do they believe that education should only be for the privileged?
Mr Speaker, something have to wrong with they.”
Hon. Said Musa – Deputy Leader of the Opposition
“That same Prime Minister, when he was then Leader of the Opposition, condemned and poured scorn on the PetroCaribe Agreement. He accused us, ‘Hey the PUP Government now has a new master in the portion of President Hugo Chavis.’ He described Comandante Chavis, as he now calls him, as a new imperial master, with hegemonic aspirations to control all of us in the region. Now how this hypocrite could get up now in this House?
They even accused me of stealing twenty million dollars. remember that, Mr Faber? Accused me of diverting twenty million dollars, which President Chavis didn’t lend to us. President Chavis gave to us. It was a grant.”
Hon. Patrick Faber – Area Representative for Collet
“That same Right Honourable Member from Fort George, Mr Speaker, that in fact presided over the Accommodation Agreement, they too presided over the diversions of this fund. They too, Mr Speaker, were the ones who signed on initially to the PetroCaribe Agreement, and in fact, Mr Speaker, until we can get satisfactory answers, we will have to say, Mr Speaker, that they contributed to divert those initial funds of the PetroCaribe Initiative, Mr Speaker, into the pockets of their cronies with whom they were in comfortable, lovey-dovey relationships.”
Hon. Julius Espat – Area Representative
“We, on this side of the House, we are not against development. Mr Speaker, on the contrary, the People’s United Party has a track record of being pro-development. It is just that we do not go about amassing the people’s money, amassing money, amassing people outside, paying two point two million dollars so that they can grandstand with their people on the other side.”
The number of people that showed up for the rally is estimated somewhere between three to five thousand people.