Tonight, a group of Mennonites from Spanish lookout are refusing to
take the vaccine because they say it's the mark of the beast.
That's what we saw in an unsigned letter addressed to Prime Minister
John Briceno in a letter dated yesterday.
And this morning we had word that the same group had lawyered up hiring
attorneys Arthur Saldivar, Richard "Dickie" Bradley in preparation to
take legal action against the government and its vaccine mandates.
And while the elders are lawyering up, others in the community are
voicing their discontent by flying a Black flag emblazoned with the
words free Belize. Cherisse Halsall saw them flying when she dropped
into the Mennonite community today. Here's that story.
Spanish Lookout is a community proud of its heritage and the six plus
decades they have been in Belize, where they have gone from settlers to
sole providers of many of the most basic foods.
And that pride is made manifest here at the Heritage Center and Town Hall.
Now, that same rugged sense of self-determination and other-ness is fueling WHAT SEEMS TO US AS a strong, and well funded anti vaxx
campaign - but it is presented as a fight to retain individual liberties .
The spirit of which is captured in these defiant Black flags, which say
But free Belize from what?
Community member Ronnie Plett told us that the Free Belize movement isn't
anti-vax, in his opinion they're fighting for basic human rights.
Ronnie Plett - Community Member
"The free Belize movement has no stance pro or against the vaccine, we
believe everyone should have the full right to be vaccinated or not as
they please. What our concern is that the government is over stepping
their bounds into territory that will remove freedoms from all
Belizeans that we will perhaps will not get back."
And while that broad argument is the rubric for resistance, is claiming
liberties - in fact, taking liberties in the middle of a public health
"Is this community Belizean or is it something that's set itself apart
and is threatening the rest of the country into following its
"I cannot comment on that because I have not been in contact with those
persons but more importantly Spanish Lookout is 100% Belizean, I was
born here, I was raised here, everything I have in this world is in
Belize, this is my home and I believe that is the feeling of the wider
Mennonite community that this is our home and we want the best for our
home for the future and we are feeling the support of Belizeans, the
wider Belizean public is 100% on the same side, very desperately
concerned about the freedoms that are being threatened at this time,
the freedom to choose what we want to do over our very own bodies and
that is genuinely a very concerning idea to lose that freedom."
And whatever the community thinks Plett admits that they still have to live
within the confines of Belizean society. Still, he says he feels that the
Minister of Health's new mandate on public buildings goes one step too far.
"We all, many of us drive, many of us need police reports for various
issues that we deal with, we need passports, I.D's, just the fact that
it's a public building, the idea now of changing it to a government
buildings, is I believe the intention is to lighten it for now but it
is clearly not changing the mandate, and the mandate will proceed
forward. The initial statement by the minister was not public
government buildings, the statement was private buildings to which the
citizens have legal access to shows that the government is willing to
take drastic actions to take away personal freedoms on private
And, driving around this agricultural community,we didn't see many people
wearing masks apart from the workers from the surrounding villages.
"But I do have to ask you Sir, because it seems that there are some
people who are against vaccines in this community and we've heard that
Belizean laborers who work here have been fired for getting a vaccine.
You know anything about that?"
"No one in Spanish Lookout has been coerce to take the vaccine and no
one has been forced not to take the vaccine. The vaccine as in all
Mennonite communities is fully voluntary, I have many employees who
work for me personally who are vaccinated and I have no concern with
that and I also have some employees who do not choose to be vaccinated
and I leave that entirely up to them."
And at 4 p.m this afternoon, what they call a Freedom campaign continued to
pick up steam
with this so called Freedom Drive, under the theme "It's time to Stand Up"
and that libertarian catchphrase is what the Mennonites say differentiates
this from an anti-vax campaign.
"We are losing those freedoms and we have seen repeatedly in our
history and in the history of the world, not only in the history of the
Mennonites but in the history of the world where governments take
liberties that they are not given constitutionally and they never give
them back to the public."
THE Prime Minister met with the Mennonite community yesterday and - he
told us in a comment that no concessions were made. In that unsigned
letter to the PM, there is a claim that their people have had success
with, quote "alternate treatments.".
On Thursday, we reported that perhaps at least two Mennonite communities had hired the services of attorneys to challenge the government on the COVID regulations. Today, attorney Dickie Bradley confirmed that report with News Five. Bradley informed us that Arthur Saldivar is the lead attorney in the lawsuit, while a British lawyer is being hired to assist with the legal arguments and, he, Bradley is asked to be a consultant for the Mennonite communities. As we had reported, the communities, through their business partners, are raising funds to defray the costs and are also encouraging that there be multiple claimants to bring about the lawsuit. Today, Minister of Education, Culture, Science and Technology, Francis Fonseca weighed in on the refined Statutory Instrument that the Mennonite communities are challenging, and said that the Prime Minister has met with the leaders of these communities.
Francis Fonseca, Minister of Education, Culture, Science and Technology ďItís not a vaccine mandate; two, letís wait to see the final product of the S.I. before we make any assumptions; and third, in terms of the Mennonite community, they are citizens of Belize. We understand some of their concerns, but again I would say, letís be careful that we are not making assumptions about the position of the Mennonite community based on a few individuals who obviously feel very strongly about this issue. We have the same thing in our communities; there are pockets of people who feel strongly, but that does not reflect the views of the entire population of our country or the residents of Belize City or anything. So the same approach applies to Spanish Lookout and the Mennonite communities. There are pockets of resistance, but generally as you know the Prime Minister met with the leaders of the Mennonite community along with the minister of health and the minister of home affairs and I think they have a good understanding of where the government stands on this issue and what we expect of them. We expect them to be responsible.Ē