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#416164 - 09/14/11 09:28 AM A Gathering Of Prime Ministers
Marty Online   happy
Tomorrow night at about this time, Manuel Esquivel, Said Musa and Dean Barrow will be sharing the same stage at the Bliss Center. Why? Well, they won't be debating, or acting in a play. It's the first Prime Minister's Forum. The event is to have all three sit together and discuss - in a civil manner - with the guidance of a moderator - what was their vision for development.

Now, if you've seen house meetings, you'll know that there are rarely civil exchanges between former Prime Ministers, but the organizers at the Institute of Social and Cultural Research are hoping for an enlightening exchange.

Shari Williams told us more:...

Shari Williams, Public Relations NICH
"We are inviting all former Prime Ministers along with our current Prime Minister for a sit down and a talk - a reflection. It's not a debate; it's a reflection on what their visions and inspirations were when they were leaders of our country. We felt that it was very important for us at this stage, at our 30th anniversary as a Nation to have a constructive discussion, on where we are and where they see us going. We're trying to make sure that it does not become partisan nor it does not become personal. We are looking at a reflective discussion, at no point will the leaders of our country be directing question to each other, hence the moderator Mr. Dyllan Vernon. We hope to keep it cordial, we hope to keep it pleasant and we hope to keep it intuitive".

With such divergent views tomorrow's event ought to be interesting. It starts at 7:00 and the public is invited to attend. If you can't it will be airing on Channel 7 right after tomorrow's news.

Channel 7

#416249 - 09/15/11 09:19 AM Re: A Gathering Of Prime Ministers [Re: Marty]
Marty Online   happy

Prime Ministers Forum; 30 years as 3 leaders take the stage

Said Musa, Dean Barrow & Manuel Esquivel

But shortly at the Bliss, a Prime Minister’s forum gets underway. It is a first of a kind organized by the Institute for Social and Cultural Research. It is also a rare and unique event because we have hardly seen three heads of government on the same platform to reflect about nationhood. News Five’s Jose Sanchez has a report.

Jose Sanchez, Reporting

The Prime Minister Forum, a first of its kind will have three of Belize’s Prime Ministers: Dean Barrow, Said Musa and Manuel Esquivel; sitting on stage at the Bliss while discussing nationhood.

Nigel Encalada

Nigel Encalada, Director, Institute for Cultural and Social Research

“Mister Price will not be able to attend; however, we have confirmed the participation of the other three—the two former prime ministers and the current prime minister. And so what we are asking them to do is to reflect on Belize’s experience with independence over the past thirty years. To perhaps also reflect on the values that have motivated them to become involved and to indeed what has brought them to the point of becoming the highest elected officials in the country. Make projections; lay out their vision for Belize in the next thirty years. So it’s a sort of a nation building activity; it’s not a debate. It is something where we’ve asked them to make genuine reflection to the nation of Belize. And so we’re looking forward to it being a first of its kind activity, an event that inspire the people and the nation of Belize to begin to think about what the solutions are to the question of nation building.”

And though George Cadle Price, Belize’s first Prime Minister will not be in attendance, a video presentation featuring Price will be showcased at the event.

George Price, Former Prime Minister

George Price

“We were a party—no one individual can do it, we had to be a party. And that was the beginning of the party system and it had to be a party representing everybody. It can’t be a school. We made the mistake by going there as an alumni association. You can’t build a party just on a school; it has to be all the people. And so we began working on that and we brought everybody especially the poor people and the down and out people—those are the people that we had to get in and thank God we succeeded in that.”

Jose Sanchez

“It’s hard not to ignore that our national development has only come with those who have affiliated themselves with parties and every five years, if a party changes that development then starts from scratch. It is hard not to ignore or ask them to accept responsibility for what hasn’t happened or what has been constantly been starting over.”

Nigel Encalada

“Well this is the; when a person aspires to participate in the political system; it is part of the structures that are in place for governance. So it is hard to separate the two. However, part of the forum also asks about challeng4es. Because I have never had the opportunity to be prime minister and indeed I would suspect that it is not an easy job though people would expect readymade solutions to these things. So what we are asking them to do then is to reflect on what those achievements or challenges are or were.”

The event, expected to run from seven to nine, will be moderated by Dylan Vernon. Reporting for News Five, Jose Sanchez.

Immediately after the newscast we will be carrying the Prime Minister’s Forum, which is one of the big ticket items in this year’s celebrations.

#416318 - 09/16/11 09:29 AM Re: A Gathering Of Prime Ministers [Re: Marty]
Marty Online   happy

Prime Ministers Convene For Historic Gathering

Last night at the Bliss Center, history was made when three Prime Ministers who have led Belize for 23 of the 30 years since Independence, Manuel Esquivel, Said Musa and Dean Barrow agreed to sit down together and talk about Belize at 30. The ground rules were set up to defuse any hostility and ensure a cordial atmosphere.

That was good and all - but Jules Vasquez found it a little too cordial. Here's his report on the event:..

Jules Vasquez Reporting
The event opened with a timely reflection on the only Prime Minister who could not be there, National Hero and the leader who took Belize to Independence in 1981 George Price:

Rt. Hon. George C. Price
"When we started we had a big task against us. We had to make people conscious that they are Belizeans and we had to work with many kinds of people. We had the Maya people, the North Yucatec and the Mopans. We had the Garifunas to bring together, we had the Hindu (Coolie), we had all these nations together and we had to make them feel the nationality that they are Belizeans. That was a lot of preparation that we are our own selves and we gradually became it."

And the man who succeeded Price in 1984 took the stage to explain how he led off with their post-nationalist vision for Belize:

Rt. Hon. Sir Manuel Esquivel
"And I became very concern with a lot of other people that we should not go into Independence as a one party still. We did not really see that that would happen, only the circumstances as the opposition at that time."

"To me that guaranteed that we would never be a one party state and that we would always have democracy in this country. For that reason why I like to credit Mr. Goldson for actually being the father of Belizean democracy. Mr. Price is recognized as the Father of the our Independence but it was Mr. Goldson's struggle that ensure that date would be a democratic independence. Also there was the whole concept of developing the physical and the mental infrastructure of the nation which really needed a lot of work so that in that first term in 1984 I think we occupy our self with those things that is; developing the infrastructure; always with a view to using infrastructural developing for the purpose of economic development."

And while Esquivel pushed infrastructure, Musa said that just holding unto sovereignty is an accomplishment.

While Barrow added that the successive changes of governments is an accomplishment:

Rt. Hon. Said Musa
"Over these past 30 years to me it is a great accomplishment that we've been able to maintain our sovereignty and territorial integrity despite this unfounded claim from Guatemala. The fact that we've been able overall all these years to maintain our sovereignty over this land we call home Belize - to me it's a great accomplishment and I would attribute part of the success of what to the fact that as political parties, at least the two major political parties we had been able to reach a high level of bipartisanship on that issue. I think that plays a big part in the success of that."

Hon. Dean Barrow
"Since Independence our election cycle has never been marred by any kind of violence. It has resulted in an almost routine change of government except for Said's insisting of having been the odd man out and having won two consecutive terms. I still blame Dean Lindo for that but anyway he should never have allowed you to win that second election, I am talking about in Fort George. But that is an amazing achieving."

And one of the biggest problems as they see it is the widening gap between rich and poor:

Rt. Hon. Sir Manuel Esquivel
"What has happen is the wealthy not only has become more numerous and more distance from the rest of the society in terms of money and opportunity for that matter but they had become super wealthy in Belizean terms. The income spread has become much more noticeable."

Rt. Hon. Said Musa
"A major part of our problem is, let's face it that we may call growing economic inequality in our country. The rich getting richer, the poor getting poorer and not only that, the middle class are falling through the cracks into poverty too. Now how do we address that? the Prime Minister says that he doesn't want to subscribe to social his views but whatever name you give it there is no doubt the only way to address that....Emory King use to say "not that the rich must have less, but that the poor must have more."

Hon. Dean Barrow
"Government has got to find a way to pay for that social safety net and it ultimately it means that those that are extremely prosperous would have to be ask to pay a little more for that safety net. I don't think we ought to be afraid to bell the cat."

And while the socio-economic gap is one problem, citizens growing into their duties is another

Rt. Hon. Sir Manuel Esquivel "We don't really have a consorted concentration of mind and energy in actually finding a way to solve our problems as a people. nowadays with the numerous talk shows - the first thing people call up - 'there is a flood in my back yard'....'the minister needs….'. Nobody seems to be grasping their own role in the development of themselves and as a country."

And on a lighter note, interestingly, all three Prime Ministers said they didn't want the job:

Rt. Hon. Sir Manuel Esquivel
"As for myself I really never had any aspirations for politics. As to aspiring to be Prime Minister I never had such an aspiration. There were people before me Mr. Lindo and then Dr. Ted Aranda, who were leaders and finally I was chosen. But it was never something that I had aspired to but I am grateful that I was given a chance."

Rt. Hon. Said Musa
"But the truth, like Sir Manuel I never had ambitions to be an elected politician. I saw my future in the practice of the law."

Hon. Dean Barrow
"I am not sure that people are going to be too comfortable with the notion that each of the Prime Ministers' with the exception of Rt. Hon. George Price is a reluctant Prime Minister - something, either we protest too much or if it is the truth. I don't know that you want your Prime Ministers not to be people who driven from the very start and have a sense of leadership destiny but I am afraid that like the other two I will confess to be becoming leader for the UDP as a consequence of happenstance rather than the expending of any energy on my part."

And the evening also provided a small personal insight into the lives of the prime ministers -one of them in retirement:

Rt. Hon. Sir Manuel Esquivel
"Just being at home, being able to sit and watch television. I never enjoyed movies or long drawn-out programs like tonight's'. But I enjoy watching half an hour programs like especially comedies; they relax the mind wonderfully."

Rt. Hon. Said Musa
"I always enjoyed reading and I have far more time for doing so now than when I was serving as Prime Minister. That to me is my greatest pleasure quite frankly - well that's a very strong language....my wife wouldn't like me to..... But it certainly reading - I find a tremendous inspiration to me life and I am doing a lot more with that now. I am also walking the dog at least on Sunday sometimes."

Dylan Vernon, host
"Your ways to relax, actually you can speak about the present."

Hon. Dean Barrow
"My wife will tell you that I relax by taking sedatives - sleeping tablets. We all of course concede the obvious that it is a stressful job but I don't think any of us would suggest that this job is ultimately unrewarding."

In the end while there was an almost cloying well-meaning-ness and a sort of saccharine geniality - that the evening went along without any personal attacks or finger pointing is itself a minor accomplishment - whether it will be duplicated remains to be seen.

For those who missed it, or didn't see the whole thing because we started it in progress, the two and a half hour event will repeat on Sunday afternoon right here on channel 7.

Prime Minister Barrow will be back at the Bliss Center tonight handing out the hardware in the Tribute to Belizean Patriots - the National Honours and Awards Ceremony - which will also air live on Channel 7 right after tonight's news.

Channel 7

#416323 - 09/16/11 09:35 AM Re: A Gathering Of Prime Ministers [Re: Marty]
Katie Valk Offline
Great interviews and well worth wathcing the repeats on the local news
Belize based travel specialist

#416570 - 09/19/11 08:47 AM Re: A Gathering Of Prime Ministers [Re: Marty]
Marty Online   happy
Here are the interviews on YouTube:

Start with video 1 and work your way up...



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