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#520677 - 01/05/17 06:11 AM Who Will Be NGO Senator?
Marty Online   happy

And the Senate will soon be joined by a 13th. Senator.   Yesterday, the NGO community nominated 7 persons to be senators; 6 have accepted the nomination.  They are: Pablo Collado – he's a popular flutist, but he is nominated by his organization called, "Adopt a Child With A Disability"

Janelle Chanona, the OCEANA Vice President has accepted the nomination. 

Edilberto Romero, from another conservation NGO called Bacongo has also accepted the nomination. 

Osmany Salas, who is the president of BTIA has also accepted. 

Donovan Reneau, a popular radio DJ and visually impaired advocate, has been nominated by the Belize Council for the Visually Impaired. 

And Valdemar Andrade, the Executive Director of the Turneffe Atoll Sustainability Association has also accepted the nomination. 

So the next step is that the Steering Committee will vet the candidates based on the requirements established at their meeting in November of last year.   As we've reported, that includes, that the nominee must be a Belizean who does not have allegiance to another country; they must have three plus years working with an NGO in Belize; they must demonstrate prior knowledge of legislative, constitutional issues as well as matters affecting NGOs; they must possess excellent communication skills, both written and oral;  they must be non-partisan: and not be a partisan political activist overtly involved in getting a party/candidate elected. 

The NGO's will now meet in two days where the voting process will be finalized. The Senator will then be elected on January 10th, 2017. The name of the 13th Senator nominee will be submitted to the Governor General by January 17th.

Channel 7

6 to Vie for Thirteenth Senate Position

#520699 - 01/06/17 06:08 AM Re: Who Will Be NGO Senator? [Re: Marty]
Marty Online   happy

Who Will Be The 13th Senator?: The NGO Nominees Speak

Last night we told you about the six nominees for Senator. Well, tonight there are five. Valdemar Andrade has declined. So that leaves it between Donovan Reneau, Edilberto Romero, Janelle Chanona, Pablo Collado, and Osmany Salas. Tomorrow, they will each present themselves to the NGO Community, and on January the tenth, the NGO's will vote to select their Senator. But, not all NGO's will vote; it will only be those "in good standing" - that means those NGO's who have filed their returns as required by law. And of the 137 registered NGO's, how many is that? Well, try 29. That's right. Only 15% of the registered NGO's re in good standing. And only they can vote for the 13th Senator!

And while you can argue over whether 29 NGO's can truly represent the much wider NGO community, that's what it's going to be…

So we spoke to each of the nominees today - to find out why they want to be Senator. We start with Donovan Reneau. He's the Vice President of BCVI and has also been LOVE FM's night shift DJ for 20 years. He told us why he accepted the nomination:

Donovan Reneau, Senate Nominee - BCVI
"I accepy because I could help my disable people, I could speak out for other Belizeans who are not disabled. I could help a long a lot. Mr. Goldson, he stood up against many and he was visually impaired, totally blind and he did the job and he got some work done here in Belize. So, I think I can do the same thing."

Daniel Ortiz, 7News
"Sir, being a parliamentarian, being a senator, it requires a lot of research, lots of reading to prepare yourself..."

Donovan Reneau, Senate Nominee - BCVI
"I know it's a lot of reading. But with technology - I have a computer, a software on my computer, everything is voice activated. BCVI has that technology. They have the people who could do it and everything will be voiced activated. They have scanners that you could scan your notes and it transferred into the computer and then you could listen back and comprehend what's going on with those notes, what people write, what they want you to do and I would have some people around me too who will help me. So, that's no problem."

"I believe as long as you could think - yes you would be able to read fast if you have your sight, but there are technology now that you could do just as good as a person who is capable of having their sight and capable of doing sort of research. I know it's a lot of paperwork, but we have already solved that problem through the BCVI, so that would be no problem."

Daniel Ortiz, 7News
"And then sir, you had just discussed the other fellow nominees who you will go against top try to get the senator position."

Donovan Reneau, Senate Nominee - BCVI
"Janelle, she is the one. But I will try my best. If I am successful I will try to best to see if I could give rise above her. I will try. Nothing beats a try."

And while Reneau is confident, so is Edilberto Romero. The career conservationist was nominated by his conservation colleagues. He's the Executive Director of Programme For Belize, and the Chairman of PACT, as well as the former Chair of APAMO. He told us why he can best represent a diversity of interests:..

Daniel Ortiz, 7News
"Share with us why you feel you would be able to assist the NGO community and help the wider democracy of Belize by becoming a parliamentarian in upper house."

Edilberto Romero, Senate Nominee, BACONGO
"I am a qualified person, I'm highly educated, I have a bachelor's in sustainable agriculture. That means I'm qualified to look at agriculture, community development, and sustainable development. I have a masters in natural resource economics which looks at natural resource management but also on the economics of it, the impact on the communities, the economic impact on the society. I have experience in community development. I think I am well rounded. I don't have any affiliations with any of the political parties, I have looked at every election as an issue and that's how I've managed in dealing with the issues of the country. My tenure as Chair for 6 years at APAMO is a testament to that. I was able to work when there was a PUP government and I was able to work when there was a UDP government. If there's a VIP or a PPP I'm sure I could work with them. I can be objective and that's precisely the reason why many of the NGO's are asking me to be a nominee for the 13th senator."

Daniel Ortiz, 7News
"An immediate concern I see raised is you have 137 registered NGOs but only 29 are able to decide who the senator will be. The concern is it does not represent true democracy within the NGO community. What are your thoughts on that?"

Edilberto Romero, Senate Nominee, BACONGO
"I don't know how you define democracy, but to me the opportunity is there for everybody. Everybody knew that they're supposed to comply with filings and have their certificate of good standing. That's nothing new without the 13th senator or with the 13th senator, NGOs need to comply with that. It's just like an election, if you are 18 years old and you do not register to vote, you cannot go and vote. So I think it's democratic, it was open, the opportunity was there for every NGO."

Daniel Ortiz, 7News
"But sir at the end of the day a 6-way race, all one person needs is 6 votes and that person becomes the senator."

Edilberto Romero, Senate Nominee, BACONGO
"Again its part of the democracy and again I'm not sure what the process the steering community will follow, that may not only be 6 persons. It may be that you need 50% plus one. So there might be one-three rounds of voting, those questions it's the steering committee that could answer and I don't want to speculate on that."

And to make way for Romero, another nominee has declined. That's Valdemar Andrade. He was nominated by HELPAGE, but says that he defers to Romero:...

Valdemar Andrade, Declined Senate Nomination - PASA
"Since he is on the ticket, I don't think it's proper for both him and I to be on the ticket because we nominated him. So obviously we would give him our support. So, in doing that I declined the nomination that was done from HelpAge and so we feel that, he is active, he has been around for a while and we feel that he would able represent, not only the environmental community, but the whole entire NGO. The 13th senator at the end of the day is here to: 1) bring the views and the voice of the NGO community, the special interest groups."

And one of the most prominent special interests groups is tourism. Osmany Salas represents that sector as the President of the BTIA. He was nominated by his scouts and his own organization, and says that the 13th senator is a responsibility he would take very seriously:..

Osmany Salas, Senate Nominee - BTIA
"Of the 28 non-governmental organizations that are in good standing that will be involved in making this decision, BTIA by far is the largest of the organizations in terms of its membership. We have over 300 members countrywide. So our organization felt that it would be good for one of us to be a candidate and hence BTIA nominated me. I guess the interest is for whoever gets elected to be the 13th senator, to be involved in pushing for improvement of governance, good governance and to ensure that we can ensure that the senate serves as the final check and balance in our system that it should be and it should have always been. So, I feel that with the 13th senator and I hope I get the opportunity to serve. We can ensure to bring that unbiased balance in our senate."

"I have heard some charges in the past that the 13th senator might only serve to block government's every move. But that's not the case. The senate is there to support the process that pertain to our laws and be a part of good governance. I see it challenging, because it's a big responsibility. When it comes time to reviewing bills and debating bills and other matters that come to the senate, it takes a lot of preparation. So whoever is a senator, has to dedicate substantial time to that. Essentially put everything aside and focus on that. That's the challenge that I foresee."

And while you've heard all those names in the news before, you probably haven't heard of Pablo Collado. Sure, you've heard of the famous flutist by the same named, but it turns out that's his father. Pablo Collado Jr works with special needs children and has started up an organization called "Adopt a Child With A Disability". He just formed it as an NGO in November and now it is one of the only 29 NGO's in good standing. He told us via telephone why he wants to be Senator:

Juan Pablo Collado, 13th Senator Nominee
"First of all I felt very honored to have been nominated for the 13th senator which is a historic and very important event for the country in regards to democracy. I have been working with kids and I believe this is a great opportunity to create consciousness to the people, everybody, government, organizations about what our children with disabilities. One of the reasons is that I want to take advantage of this situation to get this program that I am doing become well known and perhaps I can help as much children as possible."

Daniel Ortiz, 7News
"What is your organization exactly? It seems to us a bit unknown."

Juan Pablo Collado, 13th Senator Nominee
"Yes, the things are that this was an organization that I just started because as a physiotherapist I have been dealing with children and offering service free of charge but more and more children are coming to me that's why I decided to open an organization to raise funds for these kids to be able to see as much kids as possible. Perhaps doing this same module in different districts in the country and see as much kids as possible. I really intend to provide the services to disabled children to our country. This is what led me to open an organization and all of a sudden I am nominated for the 13th senator because of this program that I am doing; I feel very honored about it. Of course I will accept the nomination that I can carry the word and be an advocate to these kids to try to help them as much as possible in this way."

Daniel Ortiz, 7News
"The timing of the registration seems a little too coincidence and there may be some suspicion as to why exactly your organization showed up just in time for..."

Juan Pablo Collado, 13th Senator Nominee
"Well it showed up in time because the last week of the month of November was when we celebrated the disability awareness week and it was the moment that I decided to open the organization without even knowing; I didn't ask to be nominated nor had any intention towards it. It just happened and I'm going with the flow. It comes because it has to be and I am very happy and grateful for the opportunity. I will try my best to work with the kids and the people as much as possible."

And the fifth nominee is Janelle Chanona. The former television journalist is probably the most well-known - and she comes from the well-heeled OCEANA, where she is Vice President. Daniel Ortiz spoke to her via telephone this evening:..

Janelle Chanonna, Senate Nominee - OCEANA
"I have to say that I feel privileged that I was nominated and I am grateful for the opportunity to serve my country in this way. after much reflection and discussion with my family it really came down that at the end of the day I want to be a constructive Belizean and I want to be part of the nation building process and if the NGO community see it fit that I should represent them, that would be my honor and privileged to do so to the best of my ability."

Daniel Ortiz, 7News
"Only a small group of individuals or only a small group of organizations 29 if I'm not mistaken out of 137 registered NGOs guess who this 13th senator is."

Janelle Chanonna, Senate Nominee - OCEANA
"I think at the end of the day whoever would have been selected to represent, would represent as I said the concerns and the positions that the entire NGO community would take. So. once they are able to represent their views and have their views heard, I would hope that that is a possible way forward. After this process, I mean it's really our own. If there is an opportunity for us to look at that, I am sure as a community we will have to meet again to discuss how we can make sure that everybody feels that that is representation that they can agree with or abide by."

As we said, the nominees will have a session with the NGO community tomorrow, and then they will vote on the tenth January - which is next Tuesday. The system of election has not yet been announced. We'll keep following the story..

Channel 7

#520771 - 01/10/17 12:20 PM Re: Who Will Be NGO Senator? [Re: Marty]
Marty Online   happy

Osmany Salas elected as 13th Senator

Press Conference on going for the announcement of the 13th Senator - Osmany Salas. The Senator elect signed an affidavit this morning to accept his new position.

Salas won a majority with 11 votes. Edilberto Romero received 7 votes. The other votes were split among the other three candidates: Janelle Chanona, Donovan Reneau & Juan Pablo Collado. A total of 23 votes were cast this morning by NGOs in good standing.

Salas is the national President of the Belize Tourism Industry Association (BTIA) and will now represent the NGO’s in the Senate.

“I am honored and humbled to be elected the 13th Senator for the NGO’s,” he told the media just now.

Click photos for more pictures!

#520788 - 01/11/17 05:59 AM Re: Who Will Be NGO Senator? [Re: Marty]
Marty Online   happy

Senator Salas Will Represent NGO’s

After weeks of buildup, the NGO Community elected its senator today. This will be the 13th Senator - and it's gotten so much attention because this new Senator will have the power to tip the balance of power in the upper house - and we mean tip it against the government majority.

So, this 13th Senator ushers in a new era in Belize's parliamentary democracy, but the election itself was not a high point of democracy. That's because of the 140 registered NGO's, only 23 ended up casting a vote for their Senator. That's like having a government but only 15% of the electorate came out to vote for it.

And it turned out like that because the other 115 NGO's were deemed not to be in good standing - meaning they hadn't filed all their necessary documents as required by law. So, the small election, which was held in a closed-door session at the Audubon Society, was over in less than an hour. Chair of the Steering Committee Froyla Tzalam outlined the process and the outcome, and welcomed the winner:...

Froyla Tzalam, Chair., Steering Committee
"In total, 23 organizations in good standing out of the 29 voted this morning. At the end of the first round, these were the votes that were cast for the 5 candidates and I'll do it in alphabetical order: Janelle Chanona - 3, Juan Pablo Collado - 1, Donovan Reneau - 1, Edilberto Romero - 7, Osmany Salas - 11. No rejected ballots, all of that came up to 23 total votes cast. That meant we immediately went into the second round. The second round had 2 candidates, Edilberto Romero and Osmany Salas. Their names were put on the ballot and at the end of that second round, Edilberto Romero had 7 votes and Osmany Salas had 16. Zero rejected ballots; 23 votes total were cast. At the end of round 2 Osmany was declared the senator elect."

Osmany Salas, Senate Nominee
"I am very honored; I am deeply humbled at being given the opportunity to represent the Belize NGO community. Some good friends have told me the work really just begins. I want to say again, and I will never be tired of saying a huge thank you to the teachers of our nation - to the BNTU, to the business community, led by the Belize chamber of commerce and industry and the Belize Business Bureau for all the struggles and all the members of civil society for really fighting and struggling to ensure that the NGO get this opportunity to be represented in the senate and to be involved in the campaign in the work to improve governance in our country."

"I think we have really raised the bar. We have set a precedence and I think we can't go anywhere else but up. I am very proud of my colleagues and I'm very happy to be a member of this community. I commit to serve the community."

The PUP was the first to send congratulations to Salas today. The party issued a release an hour ago saying, quote, "The People's United Party is confident that Mr. Salas is able to discharge his duties as a Senator with integrity, objectivity, rationality and consideration for Belize and her people."

But, as we said, Salas's election has an asterisk beside it - since only 15% of the NGO community voted for him. He said that's how it had to be since the NGO's cannot demand good governance if the community itself has members who have not lived up to that standard:..

Osmany Salas, Senate Nominee
"To be a part of improving the governance we need to show that we are also transparent and accountable. There is an NGO act that we must abide by with the requirements set out in that act and the company's act as well. So what transpired as Miss Tzalam and other members of the committee have mentioned repeatedly is that the NGOs who participated in the process where the ones that were certified in good standing to participate in this process. there were a few that maybe didn't file the papers in time and in a little disappointed in that for them, because I would have wanted them to be involved in the process. We have mentioned repeatedly that there are a hundred and 40 plus registered NGOs and it turned out that only 29 were able to file their papers and get in good standing in time to participate in the process. Now as we have mentioned several times, first order of business will be to organize the community to work with them, to find out why the others are not in good standing and help them to get there. Because we will have to work with them. We will have to represent the entire community. I would say that it is accurate to say that, that small percentage contributed to make this decision, but we will be representing. The senator and the support structure that will be put in place will be representing the entire community of NGO's."

Daniel Ortiz, 7News
"So this election today is version 1.2 to be improved."

Osmany Salas, Senate Nominee
"The only way is up."

Daniel Ortiz, 7News
"Can you assure us that when you do ascend to the upper house, you will treat all governance issues with objectivity and that your decisions will be based on what you think are the best principles?"

Osmany Salas, Senate Nominee
"There is no other way. From the day I know myself, I have aimed and worked hard at being an objective, fair and balanced person. So I don't see things happening any other way."

The commencement order activating the 13th Senator takes effect on 20th January.

Channel 5

VIDEO: NGO Senator Interview - The Way Forward


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