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Espat Says Boycott Was Effective

For three weeks there were mechanical games, assumed to be Guatemalan operated, stationed at the compound of Hour Bar and Grill in Belize City. A couple weeks ago, Jose Luis Espat and a few others called for a boycott of the rides.  Today our News team headed out to speak with the owners of the rides to see if the demonstration affected their business. As they were packing up to leave, the ride owners spoke with us stating that the conflict has indeed affected them.


“We come from various places, half of the games come from Mexico and half come from Guatemala. We come from Mexico. I don’t know if it was because of the problems between Guatemala and Belize but there was a reduction in business. The first week everything was going good but after the second week things started to decrease and this week things was worse because of the weather. I think there was about a 40% reduction of people. Well we thought that it was going to affect us more, we were told that there was going to be problems and that there might be protest so we thought there was going to be more but it looked calmer than we thought. I don’t know if it affected us much. I think that people are making it worse than it should be, I think it should not be so serious. I don’t know the cause of the conflict but I think there are better solutions for example the protests against us this week I feel had nothing to do with the conflict between Belize and Guatemala; one because we are independent of those problems, we come here to work, to bring entertainment and we don’t represent Guatemala or Mexico we just come here to work.”


“For the three weekends that we were here only few people came out but we don’t really know why.”


“Do you think that the protest that was launched out there the two men affected you guys ?”


“I think yes because it was in the news so I think it did affect us. In some places we have seen some discrimination to so maybe it affected us a little.”


“What do you think the Guatemalan government should do to help you guys that are here in Belize?”


“I think that he should put a stop to so much conflict because we were seeing how he was taking the initiative to instigate problems and that causes problems for us.”


“How much money did you make in the time that you were here?”


“In the three weekends that I was here I earned $2,000 Belize dollars and the last time we were here at Pallotti I made this in one week and now for three weekends it’s not much.”


“We came doing a family route, my father had been coming to this country for more than 40 years so it’s a family tradition. The problem is being taken too personally and it’s causing problems on Facebook and social media. I have seen people insulting each other because they don’t have the right information so they give wrong comments and provoke the problems to continue. Unfortunately it does have repercussions on us. People don’t bring their children to enjoy themselves anymore. Here we have two groups from Guatemala and Mexico and it has affected us both likewise. Yes these people have political influence and there are many people who support them and maybe they did not come out here to support them because we noticed only one or two people out here but we thought that there are people from other countries that might not be following this problems so we came here in good faith to work because we don’t get involved in political stuff but in the end it did affect us very much.”


There was a strong boycott sentiment when the games arrived in Belize City, yet they were allowed to set up at Hour Bar and Grill. The manager at Hour Bar Rasheem Pitts spoke with us about it.


“Well not exactly because it’s a different aspect towards it. Those are for kids and we do have our regular customers so the business didn’t really see any loss over the three weeks. Well on Facebook there were a couple comments but it was not really the bar they were bashing so we weren’t really in any danger for that three weeks that the rides were out there. Well actually we weren’t aware that it was Guatemalan because the actual person that came to rent the place was Mexican and 3/4 of the rides out there are owned by Mexicans so to our knowledge we didn’t know that it was Guatemalan as well.”

Organizer of the demonstration in front of Hour Bar, Jose Luis Espat spoke with us about the effectiveness of the protest.


“Definitely, most definitely it was effective. Anyone who took a stroll down Princess Margaret Drive around 7:30 and 8 would see that the turn out to those rides were never what they were before and you hardly saw anyone. What happened is that everyone saw me as a one man protest but I understand the bigger picture that a lot of Belizean have the same concern and same feelings but due to a memorandum that was sent out by the government which to me is full tyranny and dictatorship that the government workers cannot speak out in public about the issues concerning Guatemala. What kind of thing is this? Now a lot of people contacted me and said that they are supporting this and effectively a mass amount of Belizeans did not go out to the rides. One thing that stood out to me that a gentleman was out there ready to go with his family and he just read the sign that I had up and he went into the rides just to take a look for himself and he told his family that they are not going and that they would go to the park. To me that was enough but this protest was not only against the Guatemalans that were coming in to make our money, this was to show the government of Belize that if they cannot stand for us we can stand for ourselves. You can give the Guatemalans a million permis but if we the Belizeans do not come out to spend our money your permits and the Guatemalans presence are null in Belize and I want to reach out to every Belizean we have to wake up, we need to realize the power that we have in our hands as Belizeans.”

The operators of the games have permits to operate in Belize. They will be heading to San Pedro where they will be for another three weeks. They plan to stay in Belize until the September Celebrations.