Belize now has its first political kidnapping. In what certainly marks the beginning of a new, darker era for Belize, Derek Aikman, 47, a former UDP Minister of government and now a prominent social activist, was kidnapped late yesterday evening. At press time tonight, police do not know where he is or who the kidnappers are.
It appears that better sense has prevailed. This afternoon, less than 24 hours before confrontation in Belmopan, Prime Minister, Hon. Said Musa, has been forced to back down from proceeding with the Universal Health Services motion in the National Assembly. He announced at the eleventh hour on Thursday that after consulting widely with Belizeans, the ruling People’s United Party parliamentary caucus, which met in the capital city this afternoon, decided unanimously not to proceed with the debate and vote for the motion, scheduled for tomorrow morning, Friday, May 25.
Never in Belize's modern history has there been such intense public debate on a national issue as there has been on the Government's move to settle a $33 million debt for Universal Health Services with the Belize Bank. Over the past week momentum has been building as various community factions and the media have been campaigning in an effort to get Belizeans to give their symbolic "no" or "yes" votes on the issue. The clock is ticking towards a heated showdown in the capital city of Belmopan.
This Friday, May 18, 2007, the nation may finally get to know where their elected representatives in the National Assembly stand on the issue of the guarantee for Universal Health Services (UHS), and subsequent agreements by the Government to settle a $33 million debt for the private hospital, but the bottom line question is: Will taxpayers end up footing the multi-million-dollar bill?
Over the past two days the Prime Minister has been engaged in a staged public relations campaign to quell the debate over the Universal Health Services (UHS) guarantee and debt of $33 million. First, his office issued a release from Cabinet on Wednesday, May 9. Then, he issued a prepared statement via voice and print to the media, and third, he released a one-on-one interview with the head of the Government Press Office, with contents virtually identical to his prepared statement
The Office of the Prime Minister issued a statement on Friday, May 4, indicating that there will be no comment for the time being on the Universal Health Services (UHS) debt to the Belize Bank, which Government was called to pay last Wednesday. At press time this evening there has still been no comment on this burning issue from Prime Minister Said Musa – the man at the heart of the controversy. Mr. Musa returned to Belize on Sunday, May 6, after 12 days abroad – in Taiwan on state business and in Florida for his youngest son’s graduation.
The dispute over the Government’s guarantee for the Universal debt has taken a dramatic turn this week. That is because the Belize Bank has written Prime Minister, Hon. Said Musa, demanding immediate payment of the $33 million debt Government said it guaranteed for Universal Health Services in December of 2004.
Today the daunting details regarding the secret guarantee Prime Minister, Hon. Said Musa, gave to the Belize Bank for Universal Health Services (UHS) were disclosed. So far only a select few people, mostly parliamentarians, have seen the purported guarantee, the latest being Leader of the Opposition UDP, Hon. Dean Barrow, who today questioned the document’s very authenticity and Musa’s authority to venture into such an open-ended promise to pay UHS’s debt to the bank, a debt now standing at $33 million.
Christine Perriott’s fight with the Belize Telecommunications Limited (BTL) is turning out quite like the fight between David and Goliath. BTL fired her on February 27, but instead of walking always with the nearly $20,000 BTL paid to her, she launched a court battle, seeking her full reinstatement to her job. Perriott said she could not sit idly by while the court hears her case and tries to make a final ruling, so she sought interim reinstatement. When she won it, however, BTL immediately put her on indefinite special leave, and told her she would be paid no salary for 25 weeks, because that’s how much extra money she got on her termination.
Last week five former foreign ministers of Belize — Eamon Courtenay, Assad Shoman, Lisa Shoman, Godfrey Smith, and Said Musa, who is also a...