The Commission of Inquiry into the sale of government assets has been a
political windfall for the PUP with the shady UDP transactions exposed
in the public hearings paving the way for their massive victory in
March's municipal elections. Now as the ruling party heads into what is
sure to be a tough and protracted fight with the unions, from a
political perspective, the hearings continue to serve a most useful
purpose: as a distraction from the government labour problems, and to
reinforce that the UDP is not a viable alternative at this time.
And, that extended victory lap for the PUP should have continued today
with former Minister Anthony "Boots" Martinez appearing before the
commission to be grilled on how he bought a reduced-priced vehicle from
It should have been a political slam dunk but it's the PUP that ended
up getting dunked on when someone in the chain of command pulled the
plug on the Facebook live stream.
They did that because the union's representative on the commission of
inquiry, Luke Martinez, opened up like a drone dropping bombs on the
PUP for continuing the very practice that this commission was assembled
to investigate. Here's how he set it off:
Luke Martinez - Member of the Commission of Inquiry
"It is time for all the key players in the Ministry of finance to be
held financially and criminally responsible, enough is enough, we can
no longer continue to stand the stench of the pit of corruption that
exists when it comes to the sale of the people's assets, the
discretionary powers of the minister of finance and the financial
secretary must be limited and mechanisms to guard against the abuse be
put in place forthwith. The assets and utility management unit needs
new and honest leadership, the P.S.U. called for a commission of
inquiry to investigate and address wrongdoings, we signed up in good
faith with a view of exposing and holding wrongdoers accountable, we
did not sign up for a political show that will be limited to
And that's where the government's live feed cut out. Leaving the viewing
public wondering whether it was a technical glitch or something far more
And whatever happened, put a sharp end to this morning's proceedings
leaving Anthony "Boots" Martinez, the man who was supposed to be in the hot
seat over a Ford F-150, free to go without having answered a single one of
the commission's questions. Still, he wasn't so lucky with the media.
Anthony "Boots" Martinez
"Mr. Luke Martinez, I think he's in there. So, I think that that will be
the perfect person because it's him that you'd say drop the salt on the
wound on them."
"I don't know about, well I don't know about any feed. I was doing the job
of the public service union and the job of the Belizean people."
"The session right now continues without you?"
"No, the session isn't continuing without us and we respect that, we are
pleased to know that the session isn't continuing without us, it shows the
professionalism., the level of professionalism within the commission. We
are not saying that we are abandoning the ship, we are not jumping out of
the ship, the ship continues to sail, remember, no captain jumps out of a
ship that is sinking and so we are going to be here, we will be holding on
to the rudders and ensure that this ship sails to the end. We want that you
bring those people to justice you can't sell the people's assets just like
that, for free, and for nickels, and think that we are going to get away
with it. The government has a mandate from the people, so they have to
respond, to the people."
"Thank you very much. The public service union refuses to be a part of this
sitting today, in protest of what has been going on when it comes to the
continuous sale of our government assets. We cannot continue in that
manner, we always, a catchphrase from this administration is good faith,
and we love the good faith conversation in fact we also walk upon that
platform, the platform of good faith, so that is where we're at right now."
And while Luke Martinez has recused himself from proceedings, former
minister Anthony "Boots" Martinez says it was the Press Office the carried
out the order and cut the live feed.
"But Sir we have to ask you, in your opinion, what happened to the live
feed because Martinez is up there dropping bombs, the whole nation is
watching and then suddenly, BAM!, undemocratically cut!"
Anthony "Boots" Martinez
"Yes, that is exactly what happened, somebody from the Press Office came,
the chairman, that happened after Mr. Martinez finished his whole statement
and telling me the reason why that I've been asked to be excused until a
next time. Somebody from press office came and hailed the chairman aide and
said that the chairman wanted to make a statement, and they say that
obviously they got some instruction or something to cut the live feed so it
seems like that's what happened."
It's an act that the P.S.U's 1st Vice President, Dean Flowers, who this
morning stood in solidarity with Luke Martinez, has outrightly condemned.
Dean Flowers - 1st Vice President, P.S.U.
"I want to say shame, shame, shame on you. When the people of this country
have been exploited, their assets have been disposed of at fire sale prices
and instead of exposing this, the government of Belize chose to stifle our
representative this morning and chose to block the Belizean people from
hearing what our representative had to deliver but that letter that has
been sent to the Prime Minister will be shared with the media and with the
general public for them to get an understanding as to why the public
service took the decision to recuse itself this morning from this hearing."
And after this recusal which some might call an overarching act of protest
G.O.B can look forward to mounting resistance from the Unions. That
includes Go-slow's, sick-outs, and the ongoing work to rule all of which
are shaping up to be a perfect storm of industrial action and agitation
aimed directly at the P.U.P.