Deputy Prime Minister, Cordel Hyde has weighed in on the situation with Diana Chan and the public officer that hung up on Prime Minister John Briceno. Viewers will recall that, PM Briceno had made a phone call that resulted in the release of plants imported by Diani Chan of Botanical Gardens by Roselyn. Chan had received nine permits from the Belize Agriculture and Health Authority (BAHA), which falls under Jose Mai’s ministry, to import tens of thousands of plants. However, under CITES, listed plants must come with CITES documents and it has been the long-standing practice that this particular type of permit is issued by the Forest Department which falls under Orlando Habet’s ministry. So when Forest Officer Daniel Chi decided that the plants would be confiscated for lack of proper documentation, Minister Mai tried to intervene. He failed and that’s when he called the PM. The PM then left a meeting he was attending and made a phone call, not to Chi but to Chan’s mother-in-law. It was during that phone call that Chi was rude to the Prime Minister, refusing to release the plants. The PM says that Chi hung up the phone on him which resulted in Chi being placed on a five-day administrative leave with pay. Today, our newsroom asked Minister Hyde if he believes the PM was out of line for intervening on Chan’s behalf. Here is how he responded.
PM Briceno has since gone on record to state that he makes no apologies for intervening on Chan’s behalf and denied the situation being politically motivated.