Yesterday the National Institute of Culture and History (NICH) issued a release in an attempt to clarify statements of a Guatemalan employee resigning and subsequently awarded a contract to conduct rehabilitation works for NICH. NICH says these statements are untrue and that George Anibal Orellana remains employed with them and that no tender has even been issued as yet since they have not received funding for the said project. The issue that COLA has with this matter is not the contract or the resignation of Orellano but rather, they have found problems with the issue that Orellano is said to be a Guatemalan national. COLA’s President, Geovanni Brackett spoke to Love News on the issue.
“As in the case of the Orellanos situation at NICH is that this is a Guatemalan citizen. So now if he is a Guatemalan there is no way, a Guatemalan should sit on our governmental body responsible for distributing our historical information, our culture. We have had a long battle and a long war with the Guatemalans over their unfounded claim over Belize and we believe that no Guatemalans none, whether they are naturalized, no born Guatemalan, worse if this guy is a businessman in Guatemala coming over to do investments in Belize we at COLA have a problem with that in the very first instance because we believe that Belize should have a foreign economic policy that deals with countries that have claims over us that are posing a threat to our society. So we think that the release by NICH is ludicrous to act as if though we stand by him. We don’t care if he tendered his resignation he should not have been there in the very first place from what we stand for in COLA. If he is a Guatemalan he should not be there. If he is a Guatemalan how long has he been living in the country, how long did it take to get his nationality or what does he have, what kind of work permit. For us we cannot see any rational to have a Guatemalan citizen on our board, worse a born Guatemalan who is doing business. It seems that he can get on the highest board, I think this is a long time that we need to investigate the people who do business in Belize and their relationship to ministers.”
COLA is demanding that NICH and the Government of Belize explain how it is that a Guatemalan national has been placed in a decision and policy-making capacity on a body tasked with furthering Belize’s culture and history. The released stated, quote, “Our nation is currently being bombarded by Guatemalan propaganda to the point that even the Guatemalan President has lashed out against us in international forums. But NICH can proudly state that a Guatemalan holds a position on its Board of Directors. Are there no Belizeans eminently qualified to fill this post on the NICH Board? Is it because Orellana is a rich Guatemalan who has forged very close ties with Minister responsible for NICH Elodio Aragon Jr. and UDP mover and shaker Minister Erwin Contreras? COLA understands from credible sources in law enforcement that Orellana is under investigation in Guatemala, and has also confirmed that Orellana has come under scrutiny from local Police for the possession of unlicensed and/or prohibited weapons (a matter we understand was squashed after ministerial intervention).” End of quote.