The leader of the Opposition in his normal form utilized his few minutes on Independence Day to call out the Government on corruption and mismanagement of Belize. John Briceno’s 12-minute address began with a salute to the Prime Minister of Belize, Dean Barrow and his exit from electoral politics.
Hon. John Briceno, Opposition Leader, People’s United Party: “What a difference a year makes. Last year we were here for a packed event and now we speak to a virtual audience. I also recall bidding a fond farewell to our Prime Minister and thanking him for his service to the nation. Once again I’m happy to recognize his many years of public service to our nation and say on behalf of everyone thank you very much.”
Following that 30-second salute, Briceno’s address then focused on the Barrow administration which he had dubbed as incompetent and corrupt. Briceno used his time at the lectern to campaign for the PUP, asking for votes.
Hon. John Briceno, Opposition Leader, People’s United Party: “It was not just the virus that has brought out our nation to the proverbial cliff’s edge, we were already there. For nearly thirteen years Belizeans have witnessed unprecedented corruption, cronyism, nepotism and mismanagement of the economy and our precious resources. A small group of well connected UDPs have plundered the treasury, stolen the people’s lands and prosecuted Belizean nationality. The record of this UDP administration is one of betrayal, scandal and mismanagement. But we already know this and what we must do to correct these wrongs– we must vote. My fellow Belizeans in weeks ahead we will go to the polls to decide how we will get through these troubling times. This is our appointment with history. We get to decide if we want to live in a country where we will say “No” to corruption and cronyism, “No” to lawlessness, crippling poverty, “No” to mismanagement and incompetence. We must decide if we want a fairer more prosperous nation where everybody wins or if we want more of the same. The work ahead will not be easy. Our challenges will be great but each generation must keep working to build the nation we deserve to live in; a good nation. Each of us must sign up and with the guidance of our creator we will build a Belize that works for everyone.”
Prime Minister Dean Barrow responded to Briceno’s address saying he would not respond, but technically he did. Barrow called on Briceno to be civil if only on Independence Day.
Rt.Hon Dean Barrow, Prime Minister of Belize: “You know, rules of civility should always prevail on independence day and especially on an independence day such as this one in times such as these. I say this to make the point that I will not- I disdain from answering the Leader of the Opposition’s attacks, I will not respond in kind but I do point to our proud record of comprehensive outreach and social protection during the pandemic. This then causes me to thank all our bilateral and international partners including especially Cuba and Taiwan- they have helped to make it possible and I say that all this is proof positive that government acted with a comprehensive purpose from the outset to deal with the economic fall out from the crisis. This also included I repeat, this comprehensive response, our effort to protect health and safeguard lives. We preemptively discontinued cruise ship arrivals even before the closing of the PGIA. We directed a national lockdown in the initial stage and we have subsequently isolated a necessary cluster affected communities. We have tested aggressively and we have legislated comprehensively the required behavioural safety infrastructure answer there is. At every juncture government has consulted broadly. We formed the National Oversight Committee right at the start and have always sought the best available local and international scientific advice to guide our decision making.”