I believe that in last week’s Editorial (The Oil or the Water), you raised some important issues and serious concerns with respect to the matter of offshore drilling in Belize. However, from the title of your Editorial, it seems to suggest that the two are mutually exclusive and that an absolute choice has to be made. I, like many others, tend to differ in our views. It is clear that an environmentally friendly position with oil drilling is tenable and that makes both of these options possible.
I would like to continue on a much related matter and as a follow up to a letter I wrote to the Publisher (see Amandala, Wednesday, May 20,1015, page 7). While I pointed out that I respected the sincerity of the local Oceana advocates and even the goals of Oceana International to protect our reef and marine offshore as quite laudable, there is one big fatal flaw in their no offshore drilling campaign. The problem with it is that the other neighboring countries (Mexico, Honduras and Guatemala) around us are drilling for oil in their offshore. If, God forbid, any one of them should have an unfortunate spill, then it would affect our reef just as badly as if we were drilling in our offshore since our waters are so closely interlinked. Just as an example, we often see with dismay how garbage spills in neighboring countries wash up on our beautiful beaches. It is clear that our reef and marine ecosystems are not at any less risk while there are still the other countries around us that are drilling.
It seems as if many Belizeans, apparently also including the government, have bought into the no offshore drilling campaign hook, line and sinker without considering the bigger picture. Just having Belize unilaterally declare no offshore drilling just denies Belize the possible financial benefits of finding oil while it still leaves us completely exposed with no reduced risk of oil spills from all those around us who are still drilling.
The only way that this no offshore drilling campaign could be meaningful is if all 4 countries of the Meso-American reef system agree to no offshore drilling collectively or, if that cannot be achieved, then all four countries (Belize, Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras) should all proceed but with utter caution and with proper and effective protocols as well as strict safety measures in place.