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Home Affairs Unimpressed with UDP’s Protest

On Tuesday, the UDP staged a protest in Belize City against the Briceno Administration and against the high cost of living. There was an estimated 250 persons who took part in the protest despite the UDP not obtaining permission from the Police Department to do so. The UDP was denied twice and according to Home Affairs Minister, Kareem Musa, the UDP should have been given the permission to protest in the first instance. 

Kareem Musa, Minister of Home Affairs: “I have to say, and I have to look at it from different perspectives, when I first learnt that the Commissioner had denied the request, while I can appreciate the Commissioners rationale for doing so, I think it’s a sacred right for any entity, even if the entity does no have much credibility, they should be allowed the right to protest. We allowed it for the teachers and the unions even in a time of COVID and I understand the Commissioner’s reasoning, like I said, with the state of emergency, but at the same time, it is a hallmark of our democracy to be able to have that right to protest. So, on that front I was disappointed. But, also wearing a political hat because I don’t know how to put this but at a time when their political party is under such strain, I find it actually very strange that the leader of the party would call for a protest when his leadership is under attack and I think that certainly came out in the protest. I think a lot of the media highlighted that. So from a political standpoint you could see where that was a mistake to call a protest in such uncertain times for your leadership but at the same time it is a reminder to the Belizean public of the two political parties. You saw dinosaurs from their political party now leading the charge. It was sort of like a zombie apocalypse to see these people now who were outcasts by the previous Prime Minister, the Saldivars, Castros, individuals who were under such scandal that even the Prime Minister before who defended them up to the very end as best as he could ended up outcasting them and now you have this new leader embracing, re-embracing them into the party and not just within the party but putting them on the forefront. So I found that as well very strange for the Leader of the Opposition to do. So at the end of the day from a political standpoint, let them protest, because it just serves as a reminder of the distinction between our party and theirs.”

According to Minister Musa, the protest was not impressive and show the clear difference between the two mayor political parties in the country. 

Kareem Musa, Minister of Home Affairs: “I think 20 of them were plain clothes police officers so maybe give them 230. But, not at all, I wasn’t in the least bit impressed by it. If you look back at your footage you’ll see a lot of the individuals covering their faces. They too know that it is a shame to be a part of the movement like the United Democratic Party especially with the types of leaders that they are putting forward as their brand. This is our brand, we’re bringing back the dinosaurs and the zombies who are filthy in terms of corruption and who are full of hubris. If you look at the member for Belmopan, he had absolutely no shame and he was arrogant about it. So to see him try to flex like that, it again serves as a reminder that this is not what the Belizean people want.”

Hipolito Novelo, Love FM News: Should we expect any charges against the protestors? 

Kareem Musa, Minister of Home Affairs: “No! Absolutely not. Like I said, when I learnt of the denial letter of the Commissioner I had a conversation with him and I said no man, we cannot stop a protest. By all means have them proceed with their protest and let’s not interfere with them. There’s no need to.”

Hipolito Novelo, Love FM News: Do you fear or worry that the protest might get bigger? The UDP said they would sustain it as long as they could. 

Kareem Musa, Minister of Home Affairs: “You know, at the end of the day we are in a democracy. I think the Belizean people know that the People’s United Party, at this time, is the right fit for this country. We’re doing all that we can within our capacity in terms of what they left behind. It really is as if though you had a really bad mechanic who really messed up your vehicle and then give you back that vehicle and said okay fix it within a year. It’s next to impossible. You had 13 years to ruin this country the way you did. Left us in such incalculable debt and now we have to work towards getting back the country on the right path and that’s what we’ve been doing., It won’t happen overnight and the Belizean people can appreciate that. But we’re living in a democracy and at the same time, people have a right to voice their opinion and so we should never try to stop that.”