Things were hot in Santa Elena town yesterday at the Peter August Memorial racetrack. That's because a horse racing event was planned. It had been in the making for weeks, but just one day before, the Cayo Belmont Jockey Club which controls the track said the event couldn't happen because the track was in poor condition. Still the organizers went along and that resulted in a showdown with police and politicians on Sunday. PUP Area representative for Cayo Northeast raised it on the adjournment of the house meeting today:...
Hon. Orlando Habet
"Horse race enthusiasts, horse race fans approached Peter August Memorial Race Track stadium in Santa Elena. They encountered an enigmatic, but malicious clouds hovering over the area and that had to do with a police lockdown of the horse track, preventing the horse racers, the fans and everybody else from entering the stadium."
"Madam Speaker, I want to mention that this lockdown, at least initially was by police and there was presence 6 police mobiles in the area. I don't know why so many police officers. But the police stop and officially registered San Ignacio and Santa Elena Jockey Club that has been in existence for many years. Suddenly they were informed one day before that the track is under renovation."
"Horse owners brought their horses on trucks and trailers from Orange Walk District, Crooked Tree, and other villages in the Belize District, Belmopan, Cayo District and it is expensive to pull a trailer and horse through to reach this horse race track. But the police stop everyone from entering by parking their vehicles in the front of the gate so that no one could pass into the stadium."
"In sign of protest, what the horse owners, the jockeys and everybody did was to pass through someone's private yard to go into the track and to walk their horses around the track in a sign of protest of what is being done - nothing malicious. But suddenly the police called upon the riot squad and they came in droves with all their heavy gun equipment. One of the officers pulled out a pepper spray, spayed against the wind so that it blew on top of the public and the horses."
"Madam Speaker, you are I are human beings, we can wipe our eyes, we can flush our eyes. The horses couldn't, so the horses were agitated. They could have hurt children that were out there. Machine guns and children were out there. That was totally uncalled for."
"At the end, we were told, because the police were doing their jobs, we understood then that all this was coming from instructions given by the member for Cayo Central and I know, I would not see our prime minister supporting something like this. I couldn't see the deputy prime minister, the minister of sports going against a sporting activity such as this. I do not know if the member for Cayo Central no longer want to be involved in politics and does not want to go for re-election, but what people were saying is that this is liken to political machoism. From the sentiments of the people of Santa Elena who are his constituents, I would like to say that this is tantamount to political castration."
Hon. Rene Montero
"I am not a member of the committee. Yes, the committee convened a meeting on the 10th March to see if they could accommodate that group that wanted to have that horse race. That group refused to attend the committee. Then the police approach them and told them that they cannot have that race, because it was not safe for the public, not safe for the horses, not safe for the jockey members."
"At about 2 months ago that same group went ahead and conducted a race and a horse got injured and all the guts - it was a horrible scene. It had to be put to sleep, because of their irresponsibility. They want to do their things without respecting the authority and there is no need - the member for Cayo Northeast is trying to politicize this. He acted irresponsible, he could have come and talk to the committee and perhaps we could have accommodate them. No, they told the police that no one will stop them from having that horse race on the 12th."
"That member for Cayo Northeast went further and text the officer in charged and told him, I will read the text: "Dear superintendent, trying to get to the bottom of this regarding the police preventing some youths from using the race track, the youths involved has spent money and time in preparation, obtained the license required, though it is understanding that you are preventing them from using the track. I do not think that I need to advise you that what will happen when we get into the government." this is it signed right here "because you continue to be a puppet of your party" signed Honorable Habet."