Letters — 19 May 2015
A critic of Oceana

Dear Publisher,

I read with great interest your article “From the Publisher” on page 9, of the Wednesday, April 15 edition and reprinted on page 26 on Sunday, April 19. You offered a very interesting perspective on the late leader of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew.  You also wrote in that article: “The money from the developed societies is spare cash which they accumulated during slavery and colonialism.  Then now send the money they made by brutalizing and exploiting us in the past to confuse us in the present.  They are already rich and comfortable, and we are trying to figure out how to get there.  The rich countries wish for poor countries like Belize to be their playgrounds.  Where they are concerned, our competitive advantage, you see, lies in sex, sin, drugs, drink, and so on.”

I could not help but think that these words clearly describe the efforts of Oceana in Belize. While their goals to protect our reef and marine offshore are quite laudable and I don’t for one moment question the sincerity of the local Oceana advocates, is it not just the case of some rich and wealthy neocolonialists trying to preserve Belize as their playground?  They have made all this money and wealth exploiting us and brutalizing us and now they turn around and use this same wealth to confuse us and continue to control our minds to avoid development and generating sources of our own wealth through their flashy and expensive media efforts.

Think about it: Oceana’s “no offshore drilling” campaign in Belize has one seriously fatal flaw: are not all the other countries around us drilling for oil in their offshore? Mexico? Guatemala? Honduras?  Are they not all drilling?  God forbid but, if any one of them should have a spill, would it not affect our reef just as badly as if we were drilling in the offshore and had a spill since our offshore are so close?  We just saw the Belize’s reef report card issued this week and it reminded us of how interconnected Belize and all three of these countries are with respect to the reef system and marine life. We often see with dismay how garbage spills in neighboring countries wash up on our beautiful beaches.

Therefore, it is disingenuous for Oceana International to be harassing Belize and Belizeans with no offshore drilling but not do the same thing in the neighboring 3 countries. The only way their efforts could be meaningful is if all 4 countries agree to no offshore drilling or, if that cannot be achieved, then all four countries (Belize, Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras) should proceed but with proper and effective protocols and safety measures in place.  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 if all those around us are still drilling.

To give them the benefit of the doubt, perhaps Oceana International is sincere in its efforts in Belize and it is not a neocolonialist attitude but clearly they did not think through the fact that by just having Belize forsake offshore drilling, our reef and marine ecosystems are not at any less risk while there are the other countries around us that are drilling.

Yours sincerely,

Carlos Tzib

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