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#513483 - 05/04/16 05:10 AM PUP Will Go To Sarstoon, Dares GOB To Arrest Them  
Joined: Oct 1999
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On Saturday, the police stopped the Belize Territorial Volunteers from going on their trip to the Sarstoon River. Our news team was there when the Belizean lawmen blocked them from even leaving the Barranco Pier. We'll show you that later in the news, but first to the reaction from the PUP to the controversial Statutory Instrument which stops any Belizean from going into the Sarstoon for a month.

The Governor General signed that into law on Friday and made it a criminal offence punishable by a two thousand dollar fine or a year in jail. Government said it's only to give them time to find a diplomatic solution for the Sarstoon situation.

But, today, the PUP held a meeting of the National Executive, and decided to defy the Government, and the possibility of being confronted by the Guatemalan army, and go to the Sarstoon.

Opposition Leader John Briceno explained it in press conference called at Independence Hall this afternoon:

Hon. John Briceno, Leader of the Opposition
"As a national executive and members from parliament, we decided that it's important for us to show to the government and to the country that we do not agree with those law and we are going to challenge it, not only by talking and press conferences - whatever. But to go on the ground, to go out there and to go to the Sarstoon River and to challenge the government from stopping us from going there."

"We believe that from the national party council, that quite likely there is going to be other members of the national party council that would want to join us and if that were the case, that we are going to welcome them to join us. The national party council consists of about 300 party members from across the country."

"That's a decision that the government will have to decide whether they want to take out any criminal actions against us. but we are determine to point out that we believe that it is unconstitutional, it is an unjust law and that Belizeans should be allowed to go the Sarstoon - on our side of the Sarstoon. We need to make that abundantly clear."

"I believe that if the government is serious, they can also speak to their counterparts in Guatemala to point out that we are going on a peace visit to the Sartsoon. We are going to assure them that none of us are going to have any kind of weapons or knives or anything - that we are going there on a peaceful visit to assert the sovereignty on our side of the Sarstoon River."

PM Says PUP Will Be Handled Just Like BTV

A few hours after that PUP Press Conference, the Prime Minister called his own press conference at the NEMO Conference Room in Belmopan. It was to update the nation that a delegation of Belizean diplomats, minus a representative from the PUP, were in Washington DC. They had already made a jump-start in trying to negotiate a protocol for the Sarstoon River, while the 30-day ban is still in effect.

We'll get to that, but when the Prime Minister took questions from the Press, we asked about the PUP's bold announcement to go to the Sarstoon. He told us they will be treated just like the BTV were this weekend:

Daniel Ortiz
"The People's United Party announced via a press conference that they intend to go to the Sarstoon to put on display the government's intention to enforce this law. Will the state enforce the ban against them?"

Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister
"The prohibition is meant deter anybody from going to the Sarstoon for purposes other than regular routine day to day activities, such as way to the normal course be taking place. In other words we don't want to stop anybody from Barranco, we don't want to stop any other regular civilian. But if the Opposition's intention is to try to make a political point, then in the normal course the prohibition would apply to them."

Channel 7

#513496 - 05/04/16 08:10 AM Re: PUP Will Go To Sarstoon, Dares GOB To Arrest Them [Re: Marty]  
Joined: Jul 2010
Posts: 1,224
Judyann H. Offline
Judyann H.  Offline
Yikes.....! Think of the ramifications....IMHO the Prime Minister is trying to keep a situation under control to prevent loss of life and work out an agreement.....Not much support of your Countrymen to choose to act in a way that may escalate an already volatile situation..... frown

My friends call me Judyann
#513843 - 05/20/16 04:28 AM Re: PUP Will Go To Sarstoon, Dares GOB To Arrest Them [Re: Marty]  
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 52,595
Marty Online happy
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PUP Ready For The River

At the beginning of the month, the PUP said that it would go to the Sarstoon River to challenge the Government's 30 day ban. Since then, the party had been quietly making their preparations, and with the days going by, it was starting to look like merely like political hard-talk, with no action to back it up.

Well, the news tonight the PUP's National Party Council has finalized their plans and on Saturday, they are heading to the Sarstoon. Party Leader John Briceño spoke with the media today about his party's plans:

Hon. John Briceno, Leader of the Opposition
"We have been in consultations with the leadership of the party, by that I mean members of the national executive and parliamentarians and the best time that we could have from the majority of the group to go down south is going to be this Saturday."

Mike Rudon, Ch 5
"You have maintain a cordial relationship with the Prime Minister. Have you informed him of that decision?"

Hon. John Briceno, Leader of the Opposition
"The Prime Minister is aware that we are going to travel to the Sarstoon. I have said it publicly, we've said it in our releases and just last week Friday when we went to support the teachers in their march to stand up for Belize - I also made it clear once again that we are going to go and visit the Sarstoon. So I am sure that he is aware that we will go to the Sarstoon River to visit. The Prime Minister was very clear, I think it was last week when he announced that he was lifting the total restriction to visit the area and that once you go and report to the forward operating base of the BDF that they will allow you to go. We are going in peace. We are not taking any liquor, we are not taking any kind of weapons or anything and we will stop at the Forward Operating base. We will report and then we go on to the Sarstoon. So I do not expect any problems on the part of the government or the police or the Prime Minister or the Cabinet or anybody."

"One of the things you mentioned when you had the press conference was that you would be inviting civil society unions, the public in general to join you all on this expedition. Is that still the case?"

Hon. John Briceno, Leader of the Opposition
"What we said is that we want to invite them in the work that we are doing, but it has been difficult to get boats. As you know that many of the boat owners have been threatened. They are concerned that they may lose their licenses and they throw all sorts of obstacles on their hands, so it's difficult to be able to get boats that can go down south. We have secured just enough to be able to take the national executive and some of the other leaders in the party. So what we want to do is that once this is finish and if we can plan another trip, then definitely we want to be able to bring more people so that they could see firsthand what is happening."

But, the PUP's Sarstoon sojourn coincides with the date that a Belizean diplomatic delegation is scheduled to meet with their Guatemalan counterparts for bilaterial Talks in Istanbul, Turkey. That Belize Delegation will include Foreign Affairs Minister Wilfred Elrington, Ambassador Alexis Rosado, and the PUP Leader's Representative, Eamon Courtenay. And, the main topic of discussion will be the continuation of negotiations for a peacekeeping protocol for the Sarstoon.

But then, isn't it counter-productive for the PUP to stage a provocative trip on the same day as the talks? After all, who knows what can happen on the Sarstoon - and what plays out in the south, could have a direct effect effect on those talks. Here's how Briceño answered that question:

Daniel Ortriz
"Are you sending a representative?"

Hon. John Briceno, Leader of the Opposition
"Yes, we've always said that when it comes to the sovereignty of this country, that we in the PUP, we do not play politics. When we go abroad we speak with one voice - we speak as Belize and the meeting in Istanbul is a very important meeting. It is the first meeting that we are going to have official meeting between Belize and Guatemala after the talks broke down when they presented their version of the protocol. Something that we totally 100% object to - we in the PUP. So, now that they have decided that they have the opportunity for them to meet again on this in the next few days, we will send our representative and our representative as I mentioned before is Senator Eamon Courtenay and I think that he will be traveling tomorrow to join the team."

Daniel Ortiz
"Sir, wouldn't your plan trip this weekend get in the way of those negotiations, those talks since the purpose of it was to prevent a trip like yours for a political point?"

Hon. John Briceno, Leader of the Opposition
"Absolutely not. Our trip is an educational trip. It is very important for us in the leadership to be able to go down on the spot in the river, first to have a better and a appreciation about what is taking place there. So we are going on this educational trip where we can be educated first hand, to visit the area to see what is going on and then once in the Toledo District to talk to different individuals to see how they see all of this playing out. Because we can be here in Belize City or in Orange Walk, but it is the people in the Toledo that are on the frontline of where all of this is happening."

Daniel Ortiz
"While your position or the party's position that this is an educational trip, the Guatemalans could interpret that differently and negatively and that could bring a negative outcome to the Istanbul talks. Do you accept that?"

Hon. John Briceno, Leader of the Opposition
"No. I think that's their problem what they want to think. We don't think for what they want to do on their part in their country. They can do as they wish. This is our country and we are having problems at the border. We are seeing right now that the Guatemalans have been strong-arming the entire Sarstoon River. It is important for us to go down there and to get a firsthand view as to what is happening and just like how we are going down south, later on we will also plan a trip to go at the western border, so that we can see firsthand what is happening. So as far as we are concern it is an educational trip, it is not a political one and as Belizeans we have rights to be able to go any part on this country."

Of course, 7News will be there in PG - to see how it all plays out.

Channel 7

#513860 - 05/21/16 04:58 AM Re: PUP Will Go To Sarstoon, Dares GOB To Arrest Them [Re: Marty]  
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 52,595
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Will Police/Coast Guard Block PUP’s Sarstoon Expedition?

So, while the PUP has to wait an entire month to have their lawsuit against the Government heard, it's possible that their other planned Sarstoon action might not happen. Our information is that security forces will attempt to stop them from leaving Punta Gorda Town by boat - same as they did the Belize Territorial Volunteers 17 days ago.

So, is the PUP prepared for that possibility? Here's what the Opposition Leader had to say:

"I've gotten it on good grounds that the national executive will be stopped tomorrow. Will not even be allowed to go on the waters - will be stopped in PG by elements of the Coast Guard and the police. Are you surprised to hear something like that?"

Hon. John Briceno, Leader of the PUP
"Well I'd be most disappointed in the government and in the Prime Minister, because the Prime Minister last week made a pronouncement that he would lift the tight restrictions on Belizeans visiting the Sarstoon as long as you report to the B.D.F.'s Forward Operating Base. We are saying it is not a political trip, it is an educational trip. We believe that we need to go firsthand to look at what is taking place to have a better understanding. In our trip to the Sarstoon we are not calling the masses to go. We are inviting the National Executive and the Parliamentarians. In effect it is the leadership of the P.U.P. that is going. We want to act responsibly and to control the numbers that are going. We are going there in peace and as law-abiding citizens. The Prime Minister has said that we can go, and I would be most disappointed if the Prime Minister were to take back his word."

"The SI speaks specifically about the Sarstoon, entry into the Sarstoon. But what we have seen is that elements of the Coast Guard have been stopping people from even leaving the pier in Barranco and we understand that they will be stopping the National Executive from even leaving PG, effectively from going into the seas. Is that even a further abuse of it?"

Andrew Marshalleck, SC - PUP Legal Advisor
"The schedule to the SI gives some GPS coordinate and I am not sure how far they extend out. Certainly if it is that the law enforcement is acting to restrain people's free movement, to restrict movement even outside those coordinates, then they themselves will be acting in breach of the law."

Churches Say “No” To PUP

The Belize Council of Churches is saying NO to the PUP Sarstoon trip this weekend. Today they called the media to a press conference at the IVET conference room to present their position on several matters concerning the ongoing Belize/Guatemala dispute. But before we get into the broader scope of their position, here is what they had to say regarding tomorrow's PUP expedition:

Bishop Roosevelt Papouloute - Methodist Church
"We are just coming out of a meeting with the Leader of the Opposition and some of the members of the opposition party that were present and we have made our position very clear that we would support a stop to that trip tomorrow to give to the negotiation in the process to take its course as all diplomats seek to meet with those from Guatemala with the support of the international community to arrive at a peaceful resolution to this. So, yes we have call on the opposition party not to pursue that trip tomorrow."

So PUP did not get the churches blessing before tomorrow's expedition- instead they got a stern "Do not go!" This is quite a contrast tone from the response that the Northern Territorial Volunteers got from the Catholic Bishop who blessed their leader on the eve of their planned expedition last year August.

PUP Takes S.I. Challenge To Supreme Court

Yesterday, we showed you our interview with Opposition Leader John Briceno about the PUP'S trip to the Sarstoon River, scheduled for tomorrow. Member of the Party's National Party Council and the entire media, are preparing to go down to Punta Gorda, where they will try to get in or near the Sarstoon.

And while that is one front, on another front, Briceno and the party's legal advisor were in the Supreme Court before Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin this morning for the first hearing of their challenge to the Sarstoon Statutory Instrument. That's the now infamous law which restricts civilians from entering the Sarstoon for a period of 30 days.

The S.I. expires next week but the case went before the Chief Justice for the first time today, and the Government's attorneys told the court that they were not ready to file their arguments, given that the date for the hearing had been moved up. So, the Chief Justice adjourned it until June 27, by which time, the Sarstoon SI will be history. So, was the adjournment a setback for the PUP? Here's what Briceno and the PUP's legal advisor had to say about it:

Andrew Marshalleck, SC - PUP Legal Advisor
"The first hearing of any claim of this nature is normally case management. It's when the court schedules' out what steps are to be taken and when in order to try the claim. But what happen here today is because of the early date that was fixed, the time for government and the governor general to file papers in defense hasn't yet expired. So that nothing has yet been filed an indication was given that they need time in order to respond to it. The date was therefore adjourned to June 27th."

Daniel Ortiz
"Was that a delaying tactic in your mind, or did that cross your mind any at all as the attorney?"

Andrew Marshalleck, SC - PUP Legal Advisor
"Yes, that's to be expected. That through for any case and we expect that by the time the hearing came on, the law would have been expired. The issues that arise from that is something we anticipate and we have to confront head on."

"Speak to us about the grounds basically of this challenge."

Andrew Marshalleck, SC - PUP Legal Advisor
"The grounds of the challenge is that the governor general in deciding to promulgate the SI, acted outside the scope of his authority as conformed by the provisions of the public safety act, in that the trigger for making a law of this nature is that he must be satisfied that there is a risk to public safety caused by some risk of civil commotion and again we say that there is nothing that happened or that was likely to happen that would have given rise to any civil commotion which would have entitled him to do as he did."

Daniel Ortiz
"Coming back on June and if the government does not renew or extend the SI in any kind of way, will the court still be minded to hear this case, given that it will then become academic?"

Andrew Marshalleck, SC - PUP Legal Advisor
"The mind of the court will be known when they pronounce upon it. There will certainly be arguments both ways. Our position will be that there is benefit to be had in the course defining the circumstances in which powers of this nature can properly be exercised. The government will of course say that there isn't much value to be had in that and there is no practical risk of this thing happening again. So there is no point to it and it's a waste of time. Those arguments will be put and will be fully ventilated. As to what the mind of the court is, we will learn of it when it's pronounced."

Channel 7

#513878 - 05/21/16 03:12 PM Re: PUP Will Go To Sarstoon, Dares GOB To Arrest Them [Re: Marty]  
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 52,595
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PUP trip to Sarstoon Island cancelled
Reports reaching Breaking Belize News are that the People’s United Party’s (PUP) trip, scheduled to have left this morning en route to the Sarstoon Island, was cancelled. According to those reports, the cancellation was because of the medical condition of party leader, John Briceno’s father, who is said to be really ill at this time.

#513949 - 05/25/16 05:08 AM Re: PUP Will Go To Sarstoon, Dares GOB To Arrest Them [Re: Marty]  
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 52,595
Marty Online happy
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PUP Failed To Go To The Sarstoon

But it's a moot point for the PUP - who failed to challenge the law as they had promised to do on Saturday. 3 weeks ago, the party said it was going to the Sarstoon to challenge the Government to stop them.

It was marketed first as direct action against an oppressive law. But then, starting last week, the leadership of the party started to change tune, describing this intended excursion as an "educational" trip.

Still, we were on board, and plans were made for the members of the PUP's National Party Council to go down to PG on Saturday morning at 10:00. The plan was for them to board boats which would take them near the mouth of the Sarstoon. But, at about 11:00 on Friday night, hours away from departure time, word started getting around that the PUP had suddenly cancelled their Sarstoon sojourn.

Politically, that's a major letdown, especially since the law has now been rescinded.

Today, we got a chance to ask Opposition Leader John Briceño about the flop, and he explained that there were two major reasons which forced them to take that decision:

Hon. John Briceno, Leader of the Opposition
"This trip we started planning from earlier in the week, but unfortunately my father got very ill and we had him in the hospital since Monday. So, I was not intimately involved in the operations and organizations and everything. All I was told that on Friday that several of the boats that we already had lined up to take our people were doing last minute cancellations. They were under extreme pressure from the powers that be, for them not to participate. So it would have been difficult for us to be able to take the amount of people that had already said that they want to go to the Sarstoon. But just as important, on Friday, the doctors advised me that I need to stay by my father, because they were saying that he was not getting better, he was getting worse and that he could have died at any moment and so their recommendation was that I should not leave. I have to stay around my dad and I am the only son in the family and I felt that it was my responsibility to be with my father and with the family. And I felt it would not have been right for me to send members of my party to go to the Sarstoon where they may be potential problems and I not be there with them. I don't think that I as a leader should send them and I'm not there with them. So when the recommendation was made by the people in charge, said that they think its best that we call it off. I did not object because I wanted to be there with them."

BPP Members Visited; Without Hype Or Fanfare; PUP Senator Also Went

So, after hearing that the PUP failed to follow through with their trip to the Sarstoon, border activist Wil Maheia took his fellow BPP party member Bobby Lopez and TV personality Rosalie Staines to the river in his own personal boat.

Maheia had told the teachers that the Security Forces had been closely monitoring his movements ever since the Sarstoon Statutory Instrument was passed. Well, it appears that on Sunday, he was able to make the trip without being stopped.

Here's Rosalie Staines making the announcement only minutes after they had arrived close to the river mouth:

Rosalie Staine
"We are here at the mouth of the Sarstoon and an island is in the back where you see a little blue thatch house, that's the Guatemalan side and our Sarstoon Island is over there. The sea is very rough and our little boat might not be able to get there. We have the Guatemalan armored vessels on the right and our Sarstoon Island is there. I want to tell you that we are all wearing our Belizean flag because nobody will tell us we can't come and traverse our property and our sovereign territorial rights."

And Wil Maheia wasn't satisfied with only just that trip. Yesterday, he and several others, including PUP Senator Valerie Woods went on another visit to the Sarstoon River mouth. They spotted several Guatemalan illegal fishermen, something we've noticed on nearly all our trips to the River mouth.

Today, Senator Woods spoke with us about the fact that the illegal fishermen were allowed to go about their business unhindered, while they, Belizeans who should have a right to move in the area, were the ones questioned:

Hon. Valerie Woods, PUP Senator
"We went to the mouth of the Sarstoon and with the help of the Captain, Wil and Carlos Galvez, on board given a good long history of what's happening on the coastal side of the Sarstoon and the Tamash and Moho with these many fisher camps, namely Guatemalans. With a whole long history there, approaching the Sarstoon area we did find 3 persons in canoe. They were from Guatemala; one can attest just based on type of canoe. When we approached one of them, we asked and they told us they are from the village of Sarstoon on the Guatemala Side. So obviously the question then arises 'well how come is it that they were able to cross over the Sarstoon River?' because according to Belize, we do have this SI and you should not be doing that. So it did raise for me the farce of this SI, where we are blocking Belizeans. Now they were fishing which again makes it illegal because of who they are and where they are coming from. The question that then arose for me was, after we went to the mouth of the Sarstoon, yes we saw the Guatemalan military boat in the distance. We also saw two more canoes from closer to the mouth of the Sarstoon River so that's a total of 5. When we left the area and we came back, I would say it was approaching towards the Temash area, we were approached by a BDF patrol boat with about 5-6 persons in there. We were the ones being questioned such as, 'why are you here?', 'what are you doing out here?', 'does anybody know that you are here?', and I found that a bit ironic. Obviously at that juncture we are well in Belizean territory and no such questioning clearly was done for those who were canoeing and fishing and are not from Belize, yet we're left unabated. We continued along back towards Punta Gorda area and BDF approached us again just to make sure that we really are going back to Punta Gorda and that we weren't making any 'mischief', I believe that was the word used in the back and forth."

As viewers are aware, the ability to speak to the Guatemalan fishermen up close is a very rare opportunity since they usually flee as fast as they can whenever they see any boat, which could be law enforcement coming to stop them from illegal fishing.

Senator Woods stressed to us that she was not representing the Party on this trip. She merely participated in the trip as a concerned civilian interested in seeing for herself what is actually taking place near the southern border.

Channel 7

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