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Opp. Leader Fonseca Doesn’t Expect Guats To Hold Referendum in 2014
posted (May 29, 2013)
Next week the OAS holds its 43rd General Assembly in Guatemala and both the Belize Government and the Opposition are expected to send representatives. That show of bi-partisanship is to demonstrate Belize’s continued commitment to the OAS and the process of peace-making with Guatemala. Today, the Leader of the Opposition told the media that even though he doesn’t have much hope for a simultaneous Belize-Guatemala referendum in 2014, Belize has to faithfully go through the motions.

Hon. Francis Fonseca - Opposition Leader
"We do not support the holding of any uni-lateral referendum in Belize. We are prepared to allow the process to work - we have participated fully in the last few meetings that have been held with the OAS and Guatemala. The PUP has been represented so we are at the table and we're prepared to support a process to moving forward but we're not going to support any uni-lateral referendum in Belize whether its 2013 or 2014. We certainly do not support the changing of our national laws to accommodate Guatemala. We're prepared to listen to them, I certainly do not believe it is just my view that they are serious about holding a referendum in 2014 if they are unable to do it in 2013, I think it will be more difficult to do it in 2014. I don't view these latest development as apeasement, I think it's a part of the process, it's a part of the discussion going forward and I think Belize has to maintain that position. I think we've always maintained that position of high ground regardless of the party in government. We have to maintain the comprimi, we think that's in the interest of Belize - we need to ensure that we maintain the relationship with OAS so that they put some structure in place to monitor what is happening at the border. We believe that is in the best interest of Belize."

Jules Vasquez
"How do we make agreements with a country that does not behave in an honorable fashion and we continue to make subsequent agreements with them?"

Hon. Francis Fonseca
"We can't say that Guatemala is acting in bad faith and they always will and we will just wash our hand of the process. I think we have to be responsible and we have to maintain our presence in the campaign, maintain our seat at the table at the OAS."

Reporter
"Are you hopeful that come 2014 they won't withdraw again and that this process will ultimately break down?"

Hon. Francis Fonseca
"I'm not hopeful at all. As I said earlier, my best assessment of what will happen is that we will not have any referendum in any country in 2014 either. I don't believe that Guatemala is serious but we have to maintain our discussion, our high ground position that Belize has."

And while Fonseca was plainspoken on the dim prospects for a 2014 referendum, he was “cagey” when he spoke about the Revised National Gender Policy. As we have reported, the Policy has drawn criticism from the churches for stating that persons of different sexual orientations should be entitled to equality in religious and cultural practices. The Christian right says that it seems to be pushing an agenda of mandatory homosexual inclusion in schools and churches. Well today, the Opposition leader Francis Fonseca said that inclusion is what his party is all about.

Hon. Francis Fonseca
"I am the leader of a political party that embraces all Belizeans. I have Belizeans in my party who are homosexuals and we embrace all Belizeans. The major criticism that I have heard about the gender policy from the church community is that they was no consultation, they were not at the table and not allowed to be a part of the discussion. But most of all I think the greatest cristicism has been that there were no consultation and that the Government has been saying one thing and you have the Minister of Human Development - 'Boots' Martinez getting up at these church rallies and saying things out of his side of his mouth and then his official policy is coming out of his ministry are saying another thing. I think that the churches view that as hypocritical and they want to know the real position of the Government. As I have said, my party we embrace everybody."

Jules Vasquez
"Sir, but does your party really embrace all people because at the same rally where I saw 'Boots' Martinez speaking against homosexuals, I saw your Deputy Leader - Julius Espat?"

Hon. Francis Fonseca
"But that's the point - we embrace everybody even those who have another view. But we also have in our party people who are very vocal on this issue. In fact we are advocates for equality, Senator Lisa Shoman and we have to embrace the Julius Espats and the Lisa Shomans and that will make for a more stronger and vibrant party that is reflective of Belize and our society."

Jules Vasquez
"That seems to be a dodge in so far as the principle is clear. Are people entitled to be homosexuals and to live that lifestyle in our country?"

Hon. Francis Fonseca
"Yes and as I have said - I think you're interpreting it as a dodge but I have said very clearly but the People's United Party embraces all people so if we embrace all people then we have to embrace their rights as Belizeans."

And, finally, Fonseca also spoke about the tragedy at KHMH where 12 newborns died in three weeks at the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. He says the Minister of Health has to go:…

Hon. Francis Fonseca
"The Minister of Health should not be in his office today and he should have done the right thing and resign. If he did not do it then the Prime Minister should have removed him because the Belizean people have lost trust and confidence in him. We have a lot of good people at Karl Heusner, good doctors, nurses and public officers trying to do their part but as Dr. Marjorie Parks pointed out since 2008 there has been political intereferance from the Ministry of Health from the work of the Medical professionals. That is unacceptable! We pointed it out over and over and we talked about it - Dr. Tulio Mendez representative for Orange Walk East talked about it at the Northern Regional hospital where babies have died as well and where mothers have lost their wombs and nothing was done because political interest was put ahead of the national interest."

And while it is unlikely that the Minister of Health will go, at a press conference tomorrow afternoon, the KHMH Board of Governors will make its announcement on who should be held accountable for the deaths. The Prime Minister is expected to attend, and we’ll have it all on tomorrow night’s news.

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