BELIZE CITY, Thurs. June 6, 2019– The Mayor of Belize City, Bernard Wagner, and the Minister of Health, Hon. Pablo Marin, have been exchanging opposing sentiments over the issuance of exercise equipment that was to have been issued to the Mayor of Belize City, but instead was handed over to the Deputy Prime Minister/Minister of Education, Youth, Sports and Culture, Hon. Patrick Faber.
In October of 2018, the Mayors Association of Belize and the Ministry of Health signed a memorandum of understanding (an M.O.U.) stating that each municipality would receive a donation of exercise equipment that would be placed in various parks for public use, in order to promote a healthy lifestyle among Belizeans.
The mayors of each municipality were present for the signing of the M.O.U., but on Tuesday, May 28, the Ministry of Health shared photos on social media of Minister Marin officially handing over the outdoor equipment to all mayors except those of the Corozal, Orange Walk and Belize City municipalities.
Apart from this, the equipment allotted to Belize City was handed over to Deputy Prime Minister Patrick Faber instead of Mayor Wagner, and was put at the Marion Jones Sports Complex.
This was met by disappointment on Mayor Wagner’s behalf, who classified the act as “partisan politics” and expressed his surprise about the entire ordeal to the media in an interview on Thursday, May 30.
Minister Marin rebutted those sentiments on local news a few days later, calling Mayor Wagner’s reaction “childish” and affirming his right to designate the equipment to whomever he sees fit.
Furthermore, Minister Marin stated that Corozal had already received two sets of equipment and Mayor Kevin Bernard of Orange Walk would be receiving his designated equipment the following day. His reasoning for handing over the equipment to Hon. Faber, was that Faber is the Minister of Sports and Marin saw that residents utilize the Marion Jones Sports Complex frequently for exercise.
The Minister of Health further challenged the mayor by posing the question, “what has he done to promote a healthy lifestyle?” during the interview.
This did not end the verbal back-and-forth between the Mayor and Minister. On Thursday, a statement was presented to the media in which Mayor Wagner posed his own questions to Minister Marin: “Why were all the Mayors invited to sign an M.O.U. if the recipients were to be selected by the Minister of Health?”, “What factors were implemented to decide which Mayor would be exempt on the day that the equipment was distributed?”, and “Why was the matter not handled internally so that all parties involved could be informed and able to address the media with a unified understanding of the events that transpired?”
In his statement, the Mayor also discussed his hopes for a “unified Belizean government” and invited his colleagues and associates to adapt a likeminded mentality for the betterment of Belizean citizens.