BELIZE CITY, Thurs. Aug. 16, 2018– Belize’s leading newspaper, Amandala, which this week celebrated 49 years of service to the country, was prevented from going onto the tarmac at the Philip Goldson International Airport to cover the arrival ceremony for the president of the Republic of China (Taiwan), H.E. Tsai Ing-wen.
Taiwan has been Belize’s friend and a country which has been “godfathering” Belize with all kinds of lavish gifts, including monetary grants, loans and scholarships to benefit our development.
Upon arrival at the entrance to the tarmac, Amandala reporter Rowland Parks was told by airport security that his “name was not on the list,” so he was prevented from going any farther.
We believe that the situation could have been remedied easily by the application of a little common sense. No one, however, wanted to exercise a little of that, common sense, that is, and a little respect for the nation’s leading newspaper for at least the last 30 years.
When Rowland Parks, our reporter, called the Government Press Office Director, Dorian Pakeman, he was told that there was nothing that he, Pakeman, could do because the plane carrying the president had already landed, and the name of the reporter, Rowland Parks, was not on the list, because they got the information “too late.”
“There is no way we could let anybody onto the tarmac, and I can’t leave my post. I am with the rest of the media,” Pakeman told Parks.
When the Amandala editor, Russell Vellos, who was at the airport on a private matter, on the advice of a member of the airport security, called Pakeman, he was told by Pakeman that he “wasn’t there”, and so “could do nothing.”
Vellos reminded Pakeman that Rowland Parks is a well-known Amandala reporter of many years standing, known by everyone in the media, and that he (Pakeman) didn’t “have to be there,” that just a simple call to his subordinates could allow our reporter entrance to the tarmac.
Pakeman held his ground that he could do nothing, and upon being berated by the editor for his apparent stupidity in so important a matter, he hung up his phone.
Pakeman later told Parks, via phone, that it “was the airport security that was in charge.”
Following the incident, we spoke with the Chief Security for the Belize Airport Concession Company, Glenford Reid, who told us that the list with the names of media houses and workers was prepared and given to them by the Government Press Office, of which Pakeman is the boss.
Reid told us that someone from the Press Office should have been at the entrance to the tarmac, just in case anyone turned up late. Pakeman had told us that he had an officer stationed there, but the person left around 2:15 p.m., just before the plane touched down.
Reid explained that at the airport, “we have to maintain international standards and we cannot jeopardize that.”
Reid added, “It’s the Press Office that sent us the list. I got one copy and my supervisor got one copy of the list.”
Amandala regrets that therefore, we could not cover the arrival at the Philip Goldson International Airport of Belize’s friend, courtesy of an over-zealous minion of Prime Minister Dean Barrow, Government Press Office Director, Dorian Pakeman, who took the boycott of Barrow’s government against Amandala “to the max” in denying the nation’s leading newspaper the opportunity to cover the arrival of the president of the Republic of China (Taiwan), H.E. Tsai Ing-wen.