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#473316 - 09/25/13 10:48 AM Hon. Skerrit Detained, Humiliated By Coast Guard
Marty Offline
As we told you last week, the Prime Minister of Dominica Roosevelt Skerrit came to Belize for the Independence Festivities as a guest of honour. He told us he got a personal invite of Prime Minister Dean Barrow.

On Saturday, after speaking graciously at the Independence Day Official Ceremonies, Skerrit was taken to San Pedro for a stay at Victoria House. In the afternoon, he was taken by boat to see the Hol Chan Marine Reserve and Shark Ray Alley, escorted by a representative of the Tourism Board, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, a police escort from Special Branch and his own security. The group was supposed to have been trailed by the Coast Guard for security purposes, which is standard for VIP's - but the coast Guard vessel didn't show up on time - so the trip went ahead without them.

As it turned out, the Coast Guard vessel with four officers on board showed up when Skerrit and the delegation was heading back. They were almost back at Victoria House but the Coast Guard stopped the boat, and proceeded to detain and question them - detained by tying the Skerritt boat unto the Coast Guard Vessel so it couldn't move. The coast guard personnel was explicitly told by Skerrit's Belizean escorts that the Prime Minister of Dominica was on board. According to what we've heard, the Coast Guard Officer, one Ogaldez gave no acknowledgement of this - brusquely asking, "Who is the Prime Minister?" and when Skerritt answered, "I am", Ogaldez ignored him.

That went on for a while - and didn't end until someone on the Skerrit boat called the Tourism Minister's secretary who got Ogaldez to stand down and let Skerrit and his contingent go on their way.

No apology was made by the Coast Guard for the unexplained delay, We understand Skerrit retired to the hotel after the humiliating encounter and did not attend events that were planned for him later that evening.

So what's the coast guard's side of it? Well, we tried to reach commander John Borland today but he was unavailable. The best we could find out is that it was a mix up - and that the Coast Guard simply stopped the vessel from Ramon's to ask questions because they understood that the Prime Minister was in a Ramon's Dive Boat. Right here, you might say "duh", but it seems they weren't convinced that the man who identified himself as Skerrit was indeed the Prime Minister they were looking for.

The Coast Guard is conducting an investigation which may be followed by disciplinary hearings.

Channel 7


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#473385 - 09/26/13 01:54 AM Re: Hon. Skerrit Detained, Humiliated By Coast Guard [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline
Petty Officer to Seaman; Harsh Lesson for Officer

A member of the Belize Coast Guard has been demoted following an incident offshore Belize in which he reportedly disrespected and humiliated Dominica’s Prime Minister, Roosevelt Skerrit, who was in Belize on the occasion of our Independence. The incident happened on Independence Day, when Skerrit, was taken to San Pedro for a stay at Victoria House. Dominica News Online is reporting that on Saturday afternoon Skerrit was taken by boat to see the Hol Chan Marine Reserve and Shark Ray Alley, escorted by a representative of the Tourism Board, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, a police escort from Special Branch and Skerrit’s own security. The article goes that the Coast Guard was supposed to have trailed the vessel, which is standard for VIP’s – but the coast Guard vessel showed up late. When the Coast Guard vessel eventually showed up with four officers on board Skerrit and the delegation were heading back to Victoria House and were near their destination when the Coast Guard reportedly stopped the boat and detain it by tying it to their vessel. Local escorts informed the Coast Guard that the prime minister of Dominica was on board the boat, to which the officer in question, Petty Officer, Richard Ogaldez, gave no acknowledgement and only asked, “Who is the prime minister?” When Skerrit responded that he was, Ogaldez reportedly ignored him. It took the Minister of Tourism’s Secretary who finally got Ogaldez to stand down and let Skerrit and his entourage through. Today Rear Admiral John Borland explained to reporters that the incident that unfolded was the result of a lack of communication and that the Coast Guard received the request to accompany the VIP vessel very late. He added that Ogaldez has already been penalized following a meeting.

Rear Admiral John Borland, Commandant, Belize National Coast Guard

“The Coast Guard was called to support a VIP escort and of course, that Prime Minister was the Prime Minister of Dominica and a delegation from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, National Security and the Belize Tourism Board and the Coast Guard received that call very late; the boat was on patrol and so they had to make the area of operations to try and link up with the VIP vessel. We did not link up with the vessel at the proposed point because the time had gone by and it was late and so they proceeded to the area of Hol Chan Marine and they met a vessel returning from Hol Chan back to San Pedro; they approached the vessel and got it to heave (which means to stop) and try to find out if that was indeed the VIP vessel and to report themselves as the VIP escort as they were late and try to apologize for being late. I think what went wrong was the approach of the vessel commander, in this case as was reported, Petty Officer Ogaldez; I think he erred in his judgment because when it got to the point of stopping the vessel and finding out whether or not if that is the vessel with the PM on board, that was okay but once that was verified he should have had the courtesy and the respect to compliment the Prime Minister on being here and visiting us and being our guest in country and to pay respect and courtesy to him and bid him the time of the day and then go on his way. Instead what he tried to do was get the particulars of his vessel, get the particulars of those people on board and stating that he did this because he wanted to include it in his patrol reports so he could report back to his Commander; I think this is poor judgment on his behalf knowing that a person of such rank and position and status was on board; the best he could have done was to apologize for stopping the vessel and then carry on his duty of escorting the vessel even though he was already late. Certainly, some people were aggrieved by his behavior; the reports came in to the office, we conducted an investigation and we held a tribunal and so, Petty Officer Ogaldez was held on orders and came before the Commandant on disciplinary trial and that trial resulted in him being demoted of his rank and reduced to the rank of a Seaman and so he no longer holds that authority to be in command of a patrol or no longer has the authority to ever come in contact with anyone of such high rank/Government official until he has learned his lesson that that is not the way the Coast Guard operates.”

Dominica News online has reported that after the encounter, Skerrit retired to Victoria House and did not attend any event that were planned for him that evening.

LOVETV

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#473406 - 09/26/13 11:12 AM Re: Hon. Skerrit Detained, Humiliated By Coast Guard [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Dominican Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit disrespected by Coast Guard personnel

When the Coast Guard vessel with four officers on board did arrive, an incident occurred where the visiting PM was embarrassed by the officers of the Coast Guard. The Coast Guard officers stopped the boat and proceeded to detain the vessel by tying it to their boat and questioning those onboard the Ramon’s vessel. On board the vessel were two dive guides from Ramon’s Dive Shop, a representative of BTB, a Belize Foreign Affairs Protocol Officer, a Belizean Sergeant assigned to the PM and his Minister, the PM’s personal bodyguard, Minister McIntyre and PM Skerrit.

The San Pedro Sun understands that when the boat was detained, a coast guard personnel identified only as Officer Ogaldez, was disgruntled because he was detailed at the eleventh hour to work the PM’s sea activity. He was told by Skerrit’s Belizean escorts that the Prime Minister of Dominica was on board and that he must “stand down.” Ogaldez refused the order and gave no acknowledgement to the protocol orders and boarded the Ramon’s vessel. The officer proceeded to rudely ask, “Who is the Prime Minister?” PM Skerritt answered, “I am” raising one of his hands, but according to a report drafted as part of the investigation, Ogaldez “cheups” (derogatory sound made by sucking your teeth) at the PM. He insisted in wanting to see the PM’s credentials and after the rude Ogaldez continued, the Foreign Affairs Protocol Officer called a senior staff at BTB who managed to calm Ogaldez over the phone.

PM Skerrit was scheduled to attend two local functions, a free musical concert at the Central Park and a second concert with an international Mexican band. However, because of the embarrassing moment, PM Skerrit retired for the night. The San Pedro Sun understands that PM Skerrit registered his discontent about the incident with Prime Minister Dean Barrow before leaving the country.

The incident has prompted an investigation into the behavior of the team of Coast Guard Officers who were onboard the vessel. On Monday September 23rd, the officers dispatched at sea on the day of the incident, were all called in to the Coast Guard base in Belize City. A complete report is being compiled after which a disciplinary hearing is expected to be conducted.

PM Skerrit had expressed earlier in the day that he was happy to be on the “number one island in the world” and said that he was planning to return to Belize on a different occasion. It is uncertain if after the unfortunate incident, PM Skerrit would consider returning.

Click here to read the rest of the article and see more photos in the San Pedro Sun


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#473983 - 10/03/13 11:00 AM Re: Hon. Skerrit Detained, Humiliated By Coast Guard [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline
PM Says He Apologized To Skerrit

7news was first to report on the embarrassing incident with Dominican Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit. As we told you he was detained by the Coast Guard on the water of San Pedro on Independence Day. The officer in charge of the Coast Guard detail, has been demoted, but today the Prime Minister said more should have been done. Skerritt came at the personal invitation of the Prime Minister and he told us he was more than a little miffed.

Channel 7

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