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Major pushback against proposed Oct 1 SI

HeadlineMajor pushback against proposed Oct 1 SI

Belize City, Thurs. Sept. 9, 2021– The Belize Rights and Justice Movement (BRJM) has issued a statement to express their objections to a Statutory Instrument that will, starting October 1, prevent unvaccinated persons from entering public buildings. The regulation will require any person seeking to enter a public building to present a valid vaccination card or negative PCR test or rapid test taken within 72 or 48 hours respectively. The movement decried the Government of Belize’s decision to introduce such a law — claiming it violates their rights under the Constitution of Belize.

The Statutory Instrument proposed by the Minister of Health and Wellness, Hon. Michel Chebat, triggered a mass initiative by the Belizean Rights and Justice Movement (BRJM) to request that the management of various establishments step up their efforts to prevent this legislation from being passed. Zenaida Moya, a prominent BRJM member, claims public officers, pastors, and a considerable number of persons who support the movement had contacted her and the BRJM to indicate their objection to the proposed law.

Persons opposed to the vaccine mandate have already begun acts of protest. Members of the Mennonite community who are members of the BJRM have been refusing to pay traffic tickets; while other members are picketing. The BRJM further pledges to take actions against businesses that wish to comply with the Government of Belize’s mandates. The BRJM members will boycott all businesses that require persons entering their premises to present a vaccination card upon entry. The organization said that they have posted a list of companies required to comply with the vaccine mandate on their Facebook page and will be constantly updating that list.

Moya denied claims that the BRJM is an ‘Anti-Vaxx’ movement, insisting instead that it is a pro-choice movement. In reference to the government’s actions, which she classified as anti-democratic, she said, “We have tried to inform them amicably that they have to respect our rights and freedoms enshrined in the Constitution of Belize. They have not listened to that.” The group has been trying to get their claims heard in court but are yet to receive a hearing date for their cause.

The BJRM has pointed out that preventing the unvaccinated from accessing any public buildings and services will impede the provision of banking and other financial services. Some members have already committed to removing all their funds from financial institutions. Moya also notes that the mandate would have a significant impact on barbers, hairdressers and a range of micro-businesses, which will lose income if tens of thousands of persons are not able to access these services. Moya further ventured to state that members of the movement would be withholding their taxes. “If we cannot access public buildings, we cannot access public services … then there is no reason for us to pay taxes,” she said.

Moya also complained about what she referred to as a “media blackout”. She said that they have not been afforded access to various mainstream media platforms through which they could share their message with the public. Nonetheless, she said, the BRJM currently has 3,000 members. BRJM executive, Ms. Elizabeth Dena has also asserted that most Belizeans, despite the growing number of vaccinations, are opposed to the vaccine and testing mandate. In fact, Moya claims that the counterfeit vaccination card operation is a “thriving business” in Belize.

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