Don’t forget to vote TOMORROW in our national elections. Please encourage your friends and employees to vote! With our small population, every vote makes a huge difference.

On the ballot, we have a referendum on whether to have our Senators “elected” or to remain “appointed”.


The Senate is one of the chambers of the National Assembly. It has 12 members appointed for a five year term by the Governor General.


Establishment and appointment

Senators are appointed by the Governor General in the following manner:

  • 7 with the advice of the Prime Minister
  • 3 with the advice of Leader of the Opposition
  • 1 each with the advice of the following organizations jointly:
    • Belize Council of Churches/Evangelical Association of Churches
    • Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry/Belize Business Bureau
    • National Trade Union Congress of Belize and Civil Society Steering Committee.

In practice, the party that wins the general election (by capturing the most seats in the lower house of representatives) also controls the Senate. In previous incarnations, eight senators were appointed, five by the Prime Minister, two by the Leader of the Opposition and one by the Governor General and the Belize Advisory Council. One more senator was given to the opposition beginning in the 1990s.

Requirements for appointment

  • Minimum age: 18 years
  • Citizenship: Belizean (no allegiances to foreign states)
  • Residence: in Belize for at least a year prior to nomination
  • Who cannot be Senators: members of the House, members of the armed and police forces, persons contracted to work for the Government.

Occasionally, a Prime Minister may find it necessary to appoint a Senator to a post in the Cabinet. Current Senator Richard "Dickie" Bradley twice lost elections to the House and was appointed a Senator and given a Cabinet post each time. Current Minister Ralph Fonseca, though unelected in 1989, was named a Senator and Minister of State under George Price's government in 1989-1993 term. In 1997, the UDP appointed Belize Ambassador to Mexico, Mr. Alfredo "Fred" Martinez a Senator to also serve in Cabinet as Minister of Trade & Industry, thereby relinquishing his Ambassadorial appointment.

Meetings and duties

The Senate traditionally meets in session in the week immediately following a House meeting. Senators will discuss the measures sent by the House for review and approval, then vote on whether they should be sent back or approved.

Beginning in late 2005, the Senate convened an investigation into allegations of mismanagement of public funds at the Social Security Board. This committee was headed by Senator Godwin Hulse and featured senators Dickie Bradley, Moises Chan, and Rene Gomez. Arthur Roches was also supposed to appear as the UDP representative but declined under pressure from the Opposition. These Senators questioned persons working at the Board in the last five years over the activities of the Board.

In June 2006, the Senate released a report in which it roundly condemned the actions of General Manager Narda Garcia and Chairman Yasin Shoman in presiding over the questionable investment of millions of dollars in failed projects of former House member Glenn Godfrey. It called for their removal and reforms to be made to the laws governing Social Security. Shoman and Garcia deny any wrongdoing, but both have been removed from the Board, Garcia choosing to challenge this in court.

On October 28, 2006, Chief Justice Abdulai Conteh denied Garcia judicial review, claiming the Senate had no case to answer. Garcia has settled out of court with the Social Security board over her contract, receiving an additional eighty thousand dollars.

Following an appeal of the decision, on November 16, 2006, Conteh denied Garcia leave to appeal the previous decision. Garcia can still appeal to Belize's Court of Appeal.


The Senate elects both a President and Vice-President of the Senate upon first convening after a general election. The person elected president may be a senator (provided he/she does not concurrently hold a ministerial position) or a person external to the Senate. The vice-president must be a member of the Senate who does not hold a ministerial portfolio. (Constitution, Art. 66)[1]

Current Senators

(as of June 2007)

  • Hon. Mr. Phillip Zuniga (President)
  • Hon. Mrs. Vincent Parks (Vice President)
  • Hon. Richard Bradley (Leader of Government Business)
  • Hon. E. Roy Cayetano
  • Hon. Dolores Balderamos-Garcia
  • Hon. Esther Ayuso-Ramirez
  • Hon. Rene Gomez
  • Hon. Godwin Hulse
  • Senator for Churches (vacant)
  • Hon. Diego Bol
  • Hon. Dr. Deborah Mencias-McMillan
  • Hon. Lisa Shoman (Minister of Foreign Affairs)
  • Hon. Dr. David Hoy

Of the current senators, only one has previously been a House Member, Garcia (Port Loyola, 1998-2003). She had also been a senator from 1993-1998, during the UDP administration, before winning in that constituency. Bradley ran twice in Queen's Square but lost. The following are contesting House seats in 2008: Arthur Roches (Dangriga), Marcel Cardona (Orange Walk East).

In October 2006[1], three new Senators, Esther Ayuso Ramirez, Dr. Deborah Mencias-McMillan and Diego Bol were appointed on the advice of the Leader of the Opposition to replace outgoing Senators Marcel Cardona, Ambrose Tillett and Arthur Roches. This frees Roches and Cardona to run for House seats in 2008.

In June 2007, as a result of an Executive reshuffle, Eamon Courtenay was removed as a Senator. He was replaced by Ambassador to the United States and OAS, Lisa Shoman (ironically, they were both respectively informed of their demotion and promotion by phone while participating in a meeting in Panama[2].) Courtenay and Minister of Natural Resources John Briceno were fired on Monday June 4[3]. The Senator for the Churches, Rev. Moises Chan, has left the country and apparently vacated his seat, meaning that only eleven Senators are currently serving.

September 2007 brings more upheaval to the Senate. Channel 5 [4] reported that Anthony Chanona resigned over disagreements with a recent bill argued before the Senate. His replacement, Dr. David Hoy, was named in November. [5]