Will the fight between the Belize City Branch and the National Executive ever end?
Bad blood and a bitter quarrel appear to be the causes of serious trouble between the Executive Council and the Belize City Branch of the Ex- Servicemen League. After accusing the Belize City branch of many wrongdoings — which include not meeting their obligation as mandated, failing to meet the financial and material needs of sick members, not meeting their obligations for funeral and other expenses for the families of veterans who die, and neglecting their fraternal obligations to the families of veterans of the branch — the Executive Council passed a resolution to sanction the branch by suspending its activities at the Canada House beginning June 17.
The branch also was ordered not to enter or hold meetings on the property after being given the notice on June 12.
The Belize City Branch, however, took the matter to the Supreme Court, which ruled against the suspension. The Executive has since levied a $300 monthly rental fee for the lower flat of their headquarters, Canada House, to the Belize City Branch, and instituted other measures that angered the branch members.
Branch members, for their part, said that they have many gripes about the Executive Council which include the new monthly rental fee of $300, as well as the fact that money is not being accounted for, and financial reports are not presented by the executive to the membership.
On top of this, said a branch member, the property was to be sold to the Golden Princess Casino Group, who made an offer to purchase, and the league headquarters was to be relocated to Belmopan. The members said that they have become aware of the proposed sale and fiercely oppose the move, or any move to sell the property.
Captain Bernard Adolphus (Ret’d), National President of the Belize Ex-servicemen’s League, said that the property will not be sold, and he will do all he can to block any sale of the property. He claims, however, that the branch members conduct dance parties and fundraising activities in the building, but do not contribute to the league, nor pay any sort of fees for the improvement of the property, or to meet the obligations of the branch to elderly members, which is mandated.
The president accused the branch of not meeting its fair share of the expenses of maintaining the property, and said that they are not paying rent for the exclusive use and control of the lower flat of the building. They also refuse to help the veterans and to adhere to lawful and proper directives, the president indicated.
Adolphus said that the mandate of the league is to care for the neediest veterans and bury them with dignity when they die (by helping the families meet death and funeral expenses), and offer other help needed by the veterans. He takes the mandate seriously, he said, and added that after the last veteran dies, the property will be handed over to the Belize Defence Force under strict guidelines.
It was also stated that the rumor that the property will be sold is a diversion from the point of contention that the Belize City branch is not contributing to the league, and that care of the most needy members is not their priority.
In a letter written to the branch dated June 12, Adolphus, among many other issues, reminded the branch that the league is organized to help the most needy of the veterans who served in the armed forces of Belize and the Queen, and that they, the Belize City Branch, were not meeting their obligations to the veterans, despite fundraising activities such as dances.
Adolphus highlighted the many violations made by the branch, which resulted in the revocation of permission for their use of the building for dances and other fundraising activities, as well as other punitive measures.
Arthur Belisle, a vocal member of the Belize Branch, and Bernard Adolphus, the president of the Belize Ex-Services League, apparently have not been able to see eye-to-eye on various issues due to what appears to be a long-standing friction in their personal relationship over the years, dating back to at least 2006.
The relationship grew so confrontational that in November 2006, Belisle had to publicly apologize to Adolphus for remarks made in an article that he wrote. Adolphus had considered that the statements made against him were defamatory.
In an extended interview with Amandala yesterday, Nigheman Bevans, a long-standing member of the Belize Branch since 1967, and second-term trustee, insisted that offers are being made for the purchase of the property, and that nods of agreement have been given at the Executive Branch level.
He also insisted that there is a move to relocate the membership to Belmopan, where a new building will be built. The branch members strongly object to the idea, he said.
Bevans also alleged that the upper flat of the property was rented out to a private family for four years at $800 monthly, and the sum of almost $39,000 that was collected in rent for the four years, is unaccounted for. There are also other issues concerning money that is unaccounted for, he noted.
He insisted that the branch is meeting its obligations and assisting the veterans. He is a trustee, he said, but he has never been called to witness the deposits of cheques, or the withdrawals of money from the bank account.
Money is received from Canada each month, Bevans said, but this money is not accounted for in the financial statements.
Also, elections in both the branch and executive should be held every 2 years, but since 2007, no election has been conducted for the Executive Council, lamented Bevans. He said that the members are very displeased and are clamoring for an election. He said that everything being done by the president is illegal, because he has not been reelected by the membership in an election that should have been called four years ago.
Bevans said that at the death of its most decorated member, Richard Eugene Day, the holder of 18 awards and medals, some of which are a Vietnam Service Medal with 3 Bronze Stars, Vietnam Combat Medal with 60 Devices, National Defense Service Medal, U.S Army Outstanding Unit Award, among many others, the League President did not attend the funeral, adding to the anger of the branch members.