When we spoke to the President of the Belize National Teachers’ Union, Luke Palacio, we asked him about what seems to be a division within the Roman Catholic Diocese when it came to the issue. As you may recall a press release issued out of the Office of the Roman Catholic Bishop expressed solidarity with the BNTU. However, the Management of the Roman Catholic Public Schools told the media that the release is not an official release. Palacio commented on this particular matter.
“There seems to be, and I don’t want to speak for the Catholic Management, a letter came out, a press release came out from the Bishop’s office and that the Bishop’s office lends support to the teachers the General Manager in her own wisdom I would want to say decided that that is not so but what that general manager need to understand is that the Catholic Church owns the school in fact the official name of that is the Catholic Public Schools, it doesn’t say sister Barbara’s public schools and so she needs to respect the church and we ask her to respect the church. I am told that she has since rescinded or at least has reconsidered what she has written. If that is so we want her to again understand, this is not about any one individual, she wrote a letter to the Minister of Education which was copied to the Prime Minister how far is she going to try and intimidate the teachers in the Catholic Management, we again have said to our teachers ,don’t be intimidated, don’t’ be afraid, stand up for what you believe and if any teacher is terminated because she or he participated in these strike actions that we are undertaking we are going to defend those teachers to the fullest.”
As for the maintainenance of law and order in the city, the Belize Police Department was very much prepared as explained by the Assistant Commissioner of Police, Chester Williams who commands Eastern Division South. He explained why police officers were stationed at the schools.
“I sent 4 police officers out here to ensure the safety of our teachers as they congregate to whatever destination they choose. As it relates to those in the schools there are still teachers who are in the school’s teaching and we don’t want anyone to go after them as well as they go about their daily business to do what they have to do. So we are basically ensuring the safety of our teachers.”