Opposition Leader Barrow left the country on August 15 with a diplomatic visa. It is his first time back in the US after having been deported in October 2009. He met a number of high profile politicians, including Congressmen Hakeem Jeffries and Gregory Meeks. He also met other leading Democrats including Congresswomen Maxine Waters and Yvette Lee. Barrow returned home today and spoke to the media about the series of meetings.
Moses “Shyne” Barrow, UDP Party Leader: “That impacts us nationally because of tourism. You know when you have cities like Newark and cities like Atlanta that are the biggest cities in the world and New York City you know that cannot truly be quantified. You know Hartsville Jackson Airport is the busiest airport in the world and to have sister city relations could allow for a BTB presence there, certainly they have talked to me about a Shyne Museum, about a Hip Hop Shyne Museum there. I know my friend Diddy has a Sean Jean Store in the Hartsville Airport so certainly sister relations will not just be symbolic. I will work to leverage it that it has actual meaning to drive traffic. You know like Savannah for instance I met the mayor of Savannah Van Johnson and he tells me that twenty million people visit Savannah. You know Atlanta is the biggest city but twenty million people visit Savannah and so my thing was not o just target the people that live in Savannah and live in Georgia but the people that visit because those are tourists and they want to travel and obviously that’s the thing for them. So nobody wants to go to the same place every year so what I want to do is work with the mayor and the councils and the state representatives to be able to place the Belize product, the Belize tourism product where the tourists are actively visiting so that they can then say while in Savannah, while in New York City , while in Los Angeles visiting that oh well you know my next trip is going to be in Belize.”
On the trip, he also met with the Mayor of Newark, New Jersey, Ras Baraka. Barrow told us that these opportunities are meant to help Belize in meaningful ways.
Moses “Shyne” Barrow, UDP Party Leader: “Congressman Meeks and Congressman Hakeem Jeffries and Congresswoman Yvette Clark are the equivalent in politics to a Jay Z and to a Diddy and a Fat Joe and a Beyonce or a Mary J Blige or whatever. And it is interesting Congressman Hakeem Jeffries is the chairman of the Democratic Caucus for the House of Representatives the entire caucus not the black caucus the entire, all democrats in the House of Representatives he’s the Chair and he’s a son of hip hop. He actually has I am going back next month and I will be taking a Belizean artist with me to an event that he has had for the last seven years called Hip Hop on the Hill. So on Capitol Hill he has an annual gala that is called Hip Hop on the Hill where all members of the House and Senate come together to celebrate hip hop. Senator Schumer who I didn’t get a chance to see physically but I was in contact with his office and he promised to receive me on my next trip he in the Senate he’s the majority Senate Leader he passed a bill this month making August Hip Hop month. So music and politics go hand in hand but Congressman Meeks is the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs House Committee, doesn’t get more powerful than that for the purposes that I was trying to accomplish and Congressman Meeks pledged to work with me, with Barbara Lee who is the Chairwoman of the Appropriations House Committee to ensure that there is greater a financial support for Belize and other developing nations.”
He also met with Senator Dr. Lester Jackson who presented him with a Distinction of Honor Medal from the Georgia Senate. One of his first meetings in the US was with the Vice-Chair of the Georgia Democratic Congress, Erica Thomas.