The newly-formed Briceño administration continues to take shape with the appointments of Chief Executive Officers to various government ministries. What we know thus far is that Channel Five’s C.E.O. Amalia Mai has been tapped to serve in the same capacity in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Immigration where Eamon Courtenay and Ramon ‘Monchi’ Cervantes are the substantive minister and minister of state, respectively. We are informed that Narda Garcia will serve under Prime Minister John Briceño as C.E.O. of Finance.
We also understand that Doctor Marco Tulio Mendez will be the new C.E.O. in the Ministry of Health and Wellness, replacing Doctor George Gough. He will serve under Minister Michel Chebat. Meanwhile, the C.E.O. in the Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security and Enterprise will be Servulo Baeza, a former minister under the previous Musa administration. Baeza succeeds former agriculture C.E.O. Jose Alpuche.
PM Says No CEO Appointments Final; Ministry's Post Otherwise
They've only been in office for a week but, tonight, the Briceno
administration is facing its first major public backlash - and it all
started after word trickled out about who would be the new CEO's leading
It included some names with less than spotless records from past PUP
administrations, and that's where the social media campaign against
these appointments began. It raged all day and superheated social
90 minutes ago, in an unusual, oddly timed 5-minute address on the
nation's state of affairs - PM Briceno tried to put a pause to the
goodwill haemorrhaging to say that no CEO's have been appointed.
Hon. John Briceno - Prime Minister of Belize
"According to the Constitution of Belize, all CEO appointments are made by
His Excellency the Governor General acting upon the advice of the Prime
Minister. To date, no CEO has been appointed. At the next Cabinet meeting,
the Prime Minister will discuss with Cabinet the team of CEOs that will be
responsible for the implementation of Plan Belize."
But, Briceno's statement is plainly contradicted by releases put out by
his own ministers - who boast that they have taken office along with
their CEO's. Today we have seen post saying that the Ministry of
Health's Marco Tulio Mendez is behind his desk and working; Jose Urbina
is reportedly at the Minister of Youth; while we know for example that
other CEO's like Amalia Mai have introduced themselves - in her case at
the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
But, if the PM is saying the GG appoints all CEOs, the question is, are
his new CEOs acting unlawfully?
Briceno Walks Social Media Gauntlet For CEO Appointment
And while that question hangs, the public wants to know tonight about those
accused of acting illegally in the past!
In selecting CEO's, the John Briceno leadership initially turned to
loyalists who have been in the trenches with him for those many years
in opposition, the same loyalists who also stood with him when he was
being attacked and undermined within his own party 10 years ago.
We're talking about people, who have earned a place at the highest
level of his administration - nothing unusual about that, a basic
operation in the established political calculus.
But, in 2020, where outrage is always just a social media click away -
the established norms of politics won't do for an electorate which has
shown that it wants and is ready to publicly demand real change.
That shift in public expectations and the ability to broadcast it
instantly on social media, has put the young Briceno administration in
an interesting political pickle one week into office: will he stick to
his loyalists, or surrender them to the social media mob?
We don't know because 7 days after he went to Belmopan, Mr Briceno
still has not had a press conference - today he gave a statement - and
as you just heard, neither has his government formally named CEO's. So,
in lieu of direct answers, Jules Vasquez has this commentary on a cute
They were right there, immediately behind Prime Minister John Briceno as he
took the walk up to the Belize House to get sworn in - loyalists good and
true, first in line to the executive throne - and no one complained.
But, that changed this week when it was leaked that these supposed ghosts
of PUP administrations past, Narda Garcia - who was fired from Social
Security for alleged misuse of SSB funds, Amalia Mai who was at the centre
of the controversy of the diversion Venezuelan grant funds to pay for
Universal Health Care, and Marco Tulio Mendez - the former elected rep who
was accused of child molestation had been tapped to take up posts as CEO's
in the new Briceno administration.
The reaction to and rejection of this news of the politically undead
walking right back to Belmopan has been visceral - like hundreds of angry
arrows aimed at the PUP's heart, the social media missives were fierce,
fast and furious on Facebook and Twitter.
Now, facebook and twitter storms come and go in the political life of any
government, but what makes this an interesting moment is that the PUP's
recent political success has to do - in part - with its social media savvy.
Unlike the UDP, it is socially media aware and adept. Briceno boasted about
the party's social media success 8 days ago, the day before election:
John Briceno - PUP Leader
"I think we have been very successful on Facebook, on Instagram, a little
bit on Twitter."
And, unlike his predecessor - who had no personal social media accounts,
John Briceno is on Twitter and facebook - and the reviews of his
appointments there have been WITHERING:
"You look at all these things, you look at Facebook, you look when you put
a post the kind of response that you get, we get a lot of positive
Well, we hope he's still looking because the responses this time have been
almost all negative.
This tweet said he's going into the crypt to raise PUP Lazaruses
While this Facebook post suggested that the PUP would consider going into
the grave to get out former disgraced minister Max Samuels to be the next
CEO in the Ministry of Immigration.
And this comment said, it's like someone lifted up the linoleum and all the
cockroaches came out.
And while there were humorous and acerbic takes on the appointments,
there's also heartfelt disappointment in there - this voter says
that new, young faces should have been given a chance, and then cynically
concludes, "or is it that no one in this generation licked enough boots to
While this poster says, "I know you don't drive ahead by looking in the
And this tweet says, "I did not wait an hour and a half in line to cast my
vote during a pandemic to end up right back in 2008."
While this tweet warns :"young people put unu there and was tek unu right
back out if unu continue"
And this tweeter has put up an online petition to stop the appointment - up
to noon 1,516 people had signed on.
So, now, his first public act not even completed, Briceno finds himself
like this movie character, Captain Beckett, his ship of state taking fire
from both sides - but the sallies are from facebook and twitter, not civil
society and the opposition.
Whether he can remain stoic like Kurosawa's Emperor as the social media
hordes try to storm his political castle or whether he will be forced to
capitulate to the social media horde - is what remains to be seen.
He might be wise to take some advice from this young post-er and party
supporter - she says: "We are going to see levels of civic engagement that
many have not seen before. It might make some uncomfortable at first, but
it's a necessary part of the political process. It is a signal of our
political maturation as a people, and we shouldn't shy away from it. We
have much to learn."
We stress that while Narda Garcia was fired as the CEO of the Social
Security Board in 2006 at the recommendation of a Senate probe into
SSB, she was never criminally charged or found guilty by any court of
wrongdoing. A court later found she was denied natural justice by the
For her part in the diversion of Venezuelan housing funds to settle the
Universal debt, the then CEO for Foreign Affairs, Amalia Mai was
basically found to have been acting on orders from higher ups.
And, the child molestation charges former PUP Orange Walk East
Representative Marco Tulio Mendez were dropped when his accusers told
the court that they do not wish to proceed with prosecution against
And while all this speculation swirls, PM Briceno says the CEO's have
to be appointed by the GG - and the new Prime Minister has still not
held a press conference. At the last change of government in 2008, all
this was finalised and announced at a press conference in four days -
suggesting that the management of this 2020 transition - in a most
challenging time - has been more than a little choppy.