BELIZE CITY, Thurs. Oct. 22, 2015–At Wednesday’s launch of the UDP Manifesto, no mention was made by the Party of the unfounded claim of Guatemala against Belize; one would have thought that so important an issue would have been given extra attention by the party’s spokespersons.
When Amandala posed the question to those gathered on the stage, the amount of static energy created by the question was remarkable.
Prime Minister Dean Barrow handed over the answering of the question to Hon. Wilfred “Sedi” Elrington, Minister of Foreign Affairs, who immediately dived into a diatribe about the media in Belize.
“The Belize-Guatemala issue”, he said, “at least at this time, is one of those creations of the media. It is not, in fact, an issue that the public is concerned about. It is a concern for only certain sections of the media.”
He later read from the relevant sections of their manifesto which speak to the issue of the Belize-Guatemala differendum, but by that time the damage had already been done — Elrington had seriously disrespected not only the media, but the public, which the media serves.
Two months ago, Elrington had castigated the media after the August 16 Sarstoon incident, saying that he couldn’t believe the Belize media: “I am saying to you that I do not take the word of the media as gospel.”
Elrington was making reference to the reports that came from Belizean journalists who were present when the Guatemalan navy nakedly harassed Belizeans trying to land on Sarstoon Island, which is in Belizean territory. He said he is more prepared to hear from the Organization of American States (OAS.)
“I prefer to take the word of an impartial third party, participant or witness. When we receive word from that third party, or participant, the government is going to take whatever step is necessary”, Elrington had said at the time.
A few weeks ago, Minister Godwin Hulse also blamed the media for sensationalizing the story of a rat in the incubator in the Western Regional Hospital, in Belmopan.
“We would have to accept that many of our journalists don’t do their homework before executing their job, which makes for an inferior ‘news product’,” he said.
Belizeans want accountability and transparency from their government representatives, not lip service. They expect parliamentarians to take responsibility and show leadership, not invent enemies and make self-serving claims of victimhood.
This kind of paranoia on the part of the UDP’s political leadership must stop. It is behavior that should be beneath public figures in this country.