As an active member of San Pedro, I would like to personally commend you on behalf of the entire community for keeping the issue of oil at the forefront.
Communicating urgency is often very difficult when the surveying ships are not actually in Belizean waters. Your editorial “The Reef, The Oil, and the Politics” helps us to express how urgently this matter needs to be addressed. We are tired of reiterating our standpoint and having it fall on deaf ears. We understand the economic constraints the country faces at the moment, and that is exactly why our standpoint is so strong.
As you’ve outlined, the Resource Curse is a very real thing. Let’s not play the fool and think we will be shielded by the negative effects of this natural “resource”. We can develop sustainably, as outlined by the government’s own Growth Strategy document! Through a basic environmental impact analysis, we can already assess the economic leakage that will occur if we go down this path. We have confidence that the government is smarter and more resilient than oil. Now it’s time for them to demonstrate this.
We are receiving $6M from The World Bank (see: Adaptation Fund) for The Belize Marine Conservation and Climate Adaptation Project that focuses on ensuring our reef remains resilient. How resilient do you think we will be when the oil rigs leak? Are we willing to lose funding AGAIN over lack of political will?
There is a misconception, I believe, in the political sphere that our demands are already being addressed. We would like to reiterate that contrary to that belief, we will not feel at ease UNTIL offshore oil exploration is completely banned in Belizean waters — not only in protected areas; in ALL our waters. Do you think the moorings that delineate a marine-protected area can stop the oil from entering and destroying our reef?
If there needs to be an official referendum, let’s do it. If there needs to be public debate, let’s do it. We just need to know our voices are being acknowledged and that there are steps being taken to continue the discussion with all relevant stakeholders in a meaningful way.
Thank you, Amandala, for leading through action on how to engage with the people living in fear for their livelihood and happiness.