On Friday, April 12, Former Prime Minister Said Musa received a standing ovation from the UDP side of the gallery in parliament when he abstained from voting on the Referendum Bill. Musa had already made it clear that he supported the “yes” vote to forward the territorial dispute for final resolution at the International Court of Justice. It was clearly an anomalous moment, and it was eclipsed by the senate meeting the following week during which PUP appointed Senator Valerie Woods had a choice to tow the party line for a ‘no’ vote or follow her conscience. She deliberated what would be her final swan song and abstained from voting. She too received applause from the Government side of the floor. Today we spoke to Woods and asked her if that seat in the senate is now secured.
Valerie Woods – Senator: “I think I have been very vocal as I try to be on most things and consistent in my view. I have said before in the Senate, long before there was even any talk about a Referendum that my appointment, like all other appointments in the Senate is at the pleasure of the person who appoints you. In my case that is the Leader of the Opposition so I am there until he determines that my services may no longer be required. I have gotten no indication of that and so I continue to serve.”
Jose Sanchez – Reporter: “So now that the opposition is supporting the Government’s amendments to the Maritime Areas Act and trying to be unified going forward. Is it then safe to assume then that you continue on as Senator?”
Valerie Woods – Senator: “I don’t think one has anything to do with the next, regardless of what occurs on whatever Bill in the Parliament, my appointment is at the pleasure of the Leader of the Opposition. That is the system we have and that is the system under which I work. I have always maintained and will continue to maintain that for as long as I am a Senator. I will remain consistent, I will try to do my best in representing for the people of Belize on what I think should be best practices and to make sure that things that are coming to the Senate, that we do our homework on it properly, ventilate it thoroughly, not for any one of our individual interests but for the reason why we are there. The Senate is one of those platforms that people of Belize get an opportunity to listen to the debate on matters of national importance with not as much the political rhetoric and partisan back and forth that you have seen in the House, I think people do appreciate listening to the Senate. As long as I am there I will continue to be consistent in my views and hold our government to account.”