General — 25 August 2018 — by Rowland A. Parks
During Taiwan president’s visit, Minister Elrington disrespected Belize City Council and its mayor

During the recent visit of Taiwan president Tsai Ing-wen, the Belize Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hon. Wilfred “Sedi” Elrington, area representative for the Pickstock constituency, did not see it fit to invite the Mayor of Belize City, or members of the Belize City Council, to participate in ceremonies that were held in Belize City.

It would have been nice if the Mayor had presented to the Taiwan president the symbolic key to historic Belize City when she and her entourage landed at the Philip Stanley Wilberforce Goldson International Airport. It would have been nice, the decent thing, for the Belize City Mayor, or the Deputy Mayor if the Mayor was not available, to have been invited to one of the functions held in the old capital. Instead, the Foreign Minister chose to disrespect the Belize City Mayor and his PUP council, and the people who recently elected them.

Is it because the Belize City mayor, Bernard Wagner, is from the PUP, why Foreign Minister Elrington ignored him in the ceremonies involving President Tsai Ing-wen?

Disappointingly, no one from the Belize City Council, which was elected less than six months ago, was invited to the welcome ceremonies that took place on the tarmac of the Philip Goldson International Airport and in the airport VIP lounge. Just imagine, a motorcade for Taiwan’s president took place from the airport into Belize City and no one from the city was represented!

The optics of this do not reflect well on the Minister of Foreign Affairs. He not only disrespected the duly elected Belize City municipal government, but he also snubbed the residents of Belize City, who chose to hand the mandate to Mayor Wagner and his team.

And what does the Taiwan president and her contingent think about us in light of that foolishness? It isn’t Wilfred Elrington who is mayor of Belize City. Why did he have to be so petty, simply because Belize City residents chose a PUP City Council?

In an effort to get a comment from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, about why the program for the state visit of Taiwan’s president did not include representatives from the Belize City Council, we attempted to speak to the officer in charge of protocol, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, but we were told on Monday that the officer was not in the office. We left phone numbers, but no one called us all day on Monday.

We also attempted the following day, Tuesday, to find out from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs why no one from the Belize City Council was invited to be a part of the official ceremonies involving President Tsai Ing-wen, who received the Order of Belize from Governor General, Sir Colville Young at the Museum of Belize hours after arriving in Belize.

Similarly, just like the day before, we did not get any answers to our questions. We were again told that someone would call us from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Since Monday, up to today, Thursday, we have been, and are still, waiting for the answer from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

The Taiwan president also spoke in Belize City at a reception for Belizean students who received scholarships to study in Taiwan, and on the following day, Friday, visited the ITVET in Belize City.

So, for at least three of her activities, President Tsai Ing-wen had to be in Belize City, yet the Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not think it proper to invite anyone from the Belize City Council to any of the functions.

Officials at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs kept telling us that they would respond to the questions, they would pass the message on to the officer in charge of protocol, but we never heard from that office and are still waiting to hear why Belize City and its Mayor was disrespected by the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

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Deshawn Swasey

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