Kamela Palma, Belize’s High Commissioner to Saint James Court, was fired on Monday of this week with immediate effect. In diplomatic circles and otherwise, that’s sensational news. We broke that story on Wednesday after reviewing an exchange of correspondence between Palma and her principals, Minister Wilfred Sedi Elrington and C.E.O. Alexis Rosado. The background is that the Ministry wanted an apology from the High Commissioner when she wrote to the C.E.O. after her decision was reversed as to who was left in charge of the London diplomatic mission in August. Palma objected to leaving Tanya Hulse, the daughter of the Minister of NEMO. Palma essentially claimed there were financial irregularities which were allegedly traced to Hulse. Although she has already been fired, Prime Minister Dean Barrow, is having a double take, he now says that perhaps she may keep her job if she apologizes.
“There was some disagreement when the High Commission was coming to Belize on home leave as to whom she would delegate the authority to running of the mission in her absence. As I understand it, she selected one person and headquarters, by way of the C.E.O. said no, no; the person who is to hold over will be some other individual. The high commissioner then wrote a letter that she had told me when we had a meeting that she said she regretted. I didn’t see the letter yet. But when I saw the letter, I went ballistic. It was an absolutely outrageous, disrespectful, insubordinate letter that she wrote to the C.E.O. I said to the minister, the high commissioner needs to apologize for that letter and needs to accept that the C.E.O. is in fact her superior. The C.E.O. is in charge of the ministry and in charge of all the diplomats that work for the foreign ministry. I thought that was the end of the matter. I thought the lady was going to apologize and that we were going to move on. The minister reported to cabinet maybe two weeks ago that in fact the high commissioner had declined to apologize. That seems to be a complete undermined the authority of the minister and the government and it was agreed that—I thought she was actually going to be given notice. I believe the contract provides for three months notice, but it was agreed that the high commissioner would have to leave.
That is a decision that I stand by as I told the high commissioner today when I spoke to her on the phone. The high commissioner said that it was a little bit unexpected because she had discussed the matter with the minister and C.E.O. and that she had emailed them to say that she accepted that the language in the letter was subjective. Man I saw the letter. It’s not a matter of the language being subjective; it’s a matter of the language being outrageous and insubordinate. I asked the high commissioner today on the phone a direct question: “Did you ever apologized ma’am?” And she said that she hadn’t. She thought that saying that I accept that I used subjective language was enough. Well in my view that doesn’t cut it and so the decision of the ministry that the high commissioner in the circumstances can’t continue is one that I support. Whether now there is going to be some effort at fence mending. Whether now the high commissioner will offer to apologize and perhaps the decision can be thought is left to be seen.
For me, the high commissioner is somebody I had no difficulty with. I think she is very talented. It is my understanding that she was doing a good job. If the high commissioner is prepared to apologize now, I am certainly prepared to speak to the minister and to say look perhaps this matter can be sorted out.”