BELIZE CITY, Thurs. Oct. 5, 2017–One year ago the Belize National Teachers’ Union (BNTU), went on a monumental eleven-day strike to get the Government of Belize to adopt good governance measures. Those good governance measures include, but are not limited to, the reactivation of the Integrity Commission, the appointment of the 13th Senator, and the signing of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC).
The BNTU, without the help of its sister unions in the National Trade Union Congress of Belize (NTUCB), forced the administration of Prime Minister Dean Barrow to heed its call. To mark their historic achievement, the BNTU released a documentary on the protest.
In her welcome address to those who attended the viewing of the documentary at the Biltmore Plaza on Tuesday afternoon, BNTU National President, Senator Elena Smith, said, “Today is the day. It is the historic day that we have made, and when I say we I am referring to all of you proudly wearing your green shirts today, the teachers of this nation. A day that we made. It is not his story or their story but our story that we are celebrating today.”
She added, “For eleven long days we fought for betterment for our country and people. Good governance was the pillar on which we stood and on which we will continue to stand. We were able to achieve what no other group has achieved. And that alone is a great achievement that we should all be proud of.”
“As we celebrate this tremendous milestone, we remind those in power that our strike continues to be on hold. Should the wrong button be pushed, this documentary launched can easily become the launch of phase two of our strike” she continued. “We therefore advise those of you in authority, those of you who believe that you are gods, we advise you to tread our territory carefully, step lightly,” she said.
The inspiration for the documentary came from the host of KREM’s Wake Up Belize (WUB) morning show, Evan “Mose” Hyde. He shared his idea with the BNTU’s leadership and the rest was history.
“I feel like it is important. This is the serious part of the documentary. Anytime our people stand up, and whenever we have these protests where people show courage, maybe we could remember it and say ‘yeah, we remember then’. But we don’t have it archived in such a way that the next generation could be able to experience it, could hear it, and it’s not somebody else saying what happened,” he said.
He added, “Listen, it doesn’t matter to me if anybody in the government like it. I don’t expect them to. But it matters to me so deeply because I am so like a complete fan of the courage of the BNTU membership. Straight. And I have so much respect for what it took for you to stand up for 11 days in a time when we have a problem to stand up for just 15 minutes. You all stood up for 11 days.”
According to Hyde, he had no previous experience in making a documentary, but he gave every molecule in his body to ensure that his work represented the heart of the protest. The documentary can be purchased from any of the BNTU offices countrywide for only $20. Proceeds from all sales will be split evenly between the BNTU and KREM.