Controversy Surrounds New President of Belize National Teachers’ Union as Legal Battle Looms
The President of the Belize National Teachers’ Union (BNTU), Ruth Guerra-Shoman, conducted a virtual familiarization meeting yesterday with the union membership. Her meeting was an introduction, of sorts, as she officially took over the reins from Senator Elena Smith. Guerra-Shoman, who declined a recorded interview, noted that while she will not comment on the current efforts to unseat her, she can say that the transition of leadership was completed on Friday, June 30, and that she is now ready to work. But while she is focused on the union’s business, there remains a group of union members who believe that her presidency was not rightfully gained. The group, made up of at least 25 members, had circulated a petition that later urged the Council of Management to call a meeting to address the concerns of the group. The response from the council, however, has not been satisfactory for the group, and it is now our understanding that the group has sought legal advice and will be filing a petition in the courts, requesting a judicial review. Love News understands that the concerns from the group is that Guerra-Shoman did not fully disclose her history, particularly referring to the embezzlement of monies from the Belize Yacht Club, back in 1998 where she had signed an agreement to repay one hundred and ten thousand Belize dollars she had taken without authorization. Additionally, the group from the BNTU, further claims that Guerra-Shoman has failed to produce any documents verifying that she was employed by the United States Department of State as a Facilitator. While the embezzlement, which had gone to court, was some 25 years ago, the union group is citing Rule Three of the BNTU’s Constitution and By-Laws that state, quote, “After due process, the Union, by decision of Council, may cancel the membership of persons who (i) violate the ethical and professional code laid down by the Union; or (ii) are convicted of criminal offenses or grave professional misconduct.” End of quote. As for the verification of her employment, the group has cited another portion of Rule Three that states, quote, “Members shall consist of all persons so accepted and designated by the Union and shall be classified as follows: Teachers in active service in a public or private educational institution approved by the Union.” End of quote. Love News did speak with Guerra-Shoman this evening, but as we reported, she declined a recorded interview.