Highlights — 24 March 2018 — by Rowland A. Parks
“You can’t put di rat fi mind the cheese,” says BNTU prez

BNTU disappointed with appointment of John Saldivar as National Security Minister

BELIZE CITY, Tues. Mar. 20, 2018– Following their 11-day strike in October 2016, the Belize National Teachers Union (BNTU) made a list of demands to the Barrow Government, among which was a call for an international investigation to look into the beheading murder of Pastor Llewellyn Lucas, whose head was found in a vehicle owned by Danny Mason, a man who appeared to have had a close connection with Hon. John Saldivar, the Belmopan area representative and then Minister of Police.

Mason and others were subsequently arrested and charged with Lucas’ kidnapping and murder.

At the time of the kidnapping/murder of Pastor Lucas, when it was revealed that Mason had a business association with Saldivar, Prime Minister Barrow removed him as Minister of Police, citing the “optics” of the situation, and explaining that Saldivar had been put in an “untenable” situation because of” public perception.”

This past Sunday, March 18, however, Prime Minister Barrow, faced with public anger over the rising tide of violent crime in Belize, merged the law enforcement agencies under one umbrella, as the Ministry of National Security and appointed Saldivar as its head.

At a press conference this afternoon, the BNTU national president, Hon. Senator Elena Smith, was asked for the union’s perspective on the appointment of Saldivar as Minister of National Security.

Smith responded, “We have not had the chance to have a complete discussion on the matter, but based on feedback that we are getting from our members, they are very disappointed in the fact that the Prime Minister has chosen to do a 360°, if you will, and to put him back at the helm of this ministry, the Ministry of National Security, somebody who, we believe, was not doing the best in that position.

“And so, if I may, if as a teacher, let us say, you teach standard six for a number of years and every year your students fail PSE, why would I as a principal leave you with standard six to teach them another year, when you have shown that you are not able to deal with that class and get them to another level?

“It makes no sense and it is the same thing with this. If you’ve been placed in that position, you have not made any changes that are good or that have seen any betterment for this country as it relates to crime and the actions of the police, why put you back there?”

After her response, Smith was further asked: “So, the BNTU will formulate a position on this most recent Cabinet appointment?”

“We will have to, because, as you said, that was a part of our eight demands. We can say at this point in time that we are not happy with that decision and we are surely going to be looking at that and see what it is that we can do to follow up on that. You can’t put ‘di rat fi mind the cheese,’” Smith replied.

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