Photo: Hon. Moses “Shyne” Barrow, Leader of the Opposition
BELIZE CITY, Fri. Nov. 24, 2023
The ruling People’s United Party (PUP) was unsuccessful in having Mesopotamia Area Representative, Hon. Moses “Shyne” Barrow, also Leader of the Opposition, struck off the voters roll. On Friday, November 24, Chief Magistrate Jayani Wegodapola, as revising officer for the Belize District, ruled that PUP objectors Gary Ayuso and Dorla Vaughan were unable to prove that Barrow did not live at number 80 King Street for the 2 months prior to his registration on July 19, 2023. As a result, their objection was dismissed.
Attorney Richard “Dickie” Bradley reminded that the existing law prevails until it is changed, and so, once the registering officers conducted their due diligence to determine that Barrow was living at the location for the two months before his registration, then he is validly registered. Bradley emphasized, “The issue of whether you sleep there three nights a week, whether you have a wife and she sleeps there, she sleeps somewhere else. Whether you sleep somewhere else has no bearing on the matter. Once the registering officer, a public officer does the due diligence in terms of being satisfied – by a variety of means – asking neighbors ‘do you see such and such a person come here at night? Do you see him leaving early in the morning?’” Bradley also highlighted that Barrow holds a lease to the building in his name.
As to an appeal, Bradley questioned on what basis the objectors would appeal if none of their evidence was centered on the 2-month period, when Barrow was required by law to be living at the address cited. Bradley said the objectors therefore cannot appeal on merit, as new evidence cannot be introduced at the appeal stage. Bradley said, had Barrow lost the case, the media would have been interviewing the spokespersons for the PUP as to “when they will trigger the procedure that will lead to him having to leave [the House of Representatives], and if he doesn’t leave he would be put out by the Sergeant of Arms, with the assistance of the Police, the Coast Guard and the Belize Defence Force.” We note that Linsford Castillo, the PUP’s Secretary General who has been attending the court sessions for the objection, emerged not too pleased about the outcome of the proceedings.
Barrow, who was not required to be in court as he was not a defendant, expressed disappointment that the matter even got this far. However, he said he respects the wisdom of the Chief Magistrate “in wanting to, I guess, exhaust every avenue so that no one could complain that they did not get their due process to object.” At the same time, Barrow says he hopes the Elections and Boundaries Department will file a complaint against the two objectors for malicious objection, “because there is no way that they don’t know that I have been renting in Mesopotamia for the last 10 years. Before I was even a standard bearer I had interest in Mesopotamia. And when I had my resource center, I had that residence; but due to becoming party leader and wanting to consolidate my expenditures, I just repurposed it to serve a duality.” Barrow called the objection a waste of the court’s time and a desperate attempt to distract the Belizean people from the true issues currently faced. When we asked if he spends nights sleeping at 80 King Street, Barrow proclaimed emphatically, “Of course! But dat dah noh fi I tell you … dat is my business! But there’s a bed there; I have what I need to have there. George Price used to have one bed, one desk; and so, while Mr. Ayuso may think I lead an opulent life and a life of luxury, I stay rooted. That is how I got to where I am, and that is how I will get to be the next prime minister of this country … kaz I am immersed with my people … And Caribbean Shores is not my heart and my soul; Mesopotamia is.”