BELIZE CITY, Tues. May 21, 2019– Around 50 members of the Public Service Union (PSU) staged a protest this morning in front of the Belmopan City Hall. The protest was aimed at the Belmopan mayor, Khalid Belisle, who brokered a deal with an Asian businessman who bought the Hill Top property, which has been serving as the headquarters of the PSU for many years.
After being in possession of a lease for around 17 years, it came as a major surprise to the PSU Council of Management when they discovered last November that the property they had been in discussions to buy from the Belmopan City Council, had been sold secretly—right under their noses.
The PSU met with Prime Minister Dean Barrow to discuss their plight, and he had made a suggestion to the union on how to regain their headquarters. Prime Minister Barrow had indicated that the union could take out a loan from the National Bank to repurchase the property. That, however, did not materialize, and the union has taken matters into its hands to try to get back their headquarters.
Today’s protest came after several rounds of negotiations with the Belmopan City Council and Mayor Belisle had produced no progress on the matter, and the union’s leaders have apparently gotten tired of being pushed around by Mayor Belisle and the Belmopan City Council, which had told them that they would have reacquired the property from Simplex Design and would have sold it back to them. That did not happen.
PSU president, Doreth Obermayer, was asked today if she believes that the Mayor is taking them lightly,
Obermayer replied, “Of course we believe so, because we have had two sit-downs with him and he had promised that there were certain things that he would do, like to meet with Simplex Designs Company Limited to have seen whether there was a possibility of a swap. He had promised to send us something in writing and up to this point nothing has come forth. This something should have been by the 15th of April, and we also called to remind him.
“At the point of us calling, he was out of the country. I had asked the secretary for them to remind him that we are just awaiting for that response. Nothing so far. So this is the reason we believe that he is not taking us seriously. We are out here to show that we have had enough. Enough is enough, and it is time for us to take back our Hill Top.”
The PSU president was asked if she was hopeful that the action taken by the union will move the Council to do right by the union.
“Of course, and if not, this is just the beginning…If we do not get any response in the next month or so, another is going to come. Simplex Designs had agreed to get the green space which is the football field for the Evergreen Primary School as a swap for them to get back Hill Top, and from there he would have sold it back to the Public Service Union,” Obermayer replied.
Obermayer was asked to respond to the criticism that the public service has fifteen thousand public officers, but only fifty persons were out there to protest.
“As it relates to that, this is just the beginning. Like what we said, this is just the executive from our branches. We have not reached out to our mass members as yet,” Obermayer replied.
Mayor Belisle reportedly told the media via text message, “The Belmopan City Council declines comment on the matter at this time.”