So who gave the order to cut the live broadcast? The order came from a government functionary who heard the comments being made by NTUCB President Luis Martinez and with one phone call, gave instructions to have the broadcast ended. Hipolito Novelo found out who gave the order.
Hipolito Novelo, Love FM News: We scrolled the Government’s Press office Facebook page, hours after the Commission of Inquiry went live from the Belize City House of Culture and nothing, and there was no trace of today’s hearing. Expunged from the government’s records as though history was erased by a government functionary.
The live feed was abruptly end when Commissioner and NTUCB President, Luis Martinez, was heavily criticizing the government for, what Martinez described as, it’s hypocrisy. But who dunnit? Who gave the order for the live broadcast to be cut?
Anthony Martinez, Former Government Minister: “Somebody from press office came and hailed the chairman aside and they said that the chairman wanted to make a statement and they said that obviously they said that they got some instruction or something to cut the live feed.”
Instructions from who? Martinez was in the middle of his hard hitting speech against PM John Briceno and his government and was unaware that the live broadcast was ended.
Luis Martinez, President, NTUCB: “I don’t know about any feed. I was doing the job of the Public Service Union and the job of the Belizean people the same people that we are wondering of this message will fall on deaf ears. If it is that the feed was cut -“
And PSU first vice president Dean Flowers says whoever gave the order should be ashamed of himself.
Dean Flowers, 1st V.P., P.S.U.: “Shame, shame, shame on you. When the people of this country have been exploited their assets have been disposed of at fire sale prices and instead of exposing this the Government of Belize chose to stifle our representative this morning and chose to block the Belizean people from hearing what our representative had to deliver.”
The decision to cut the live broadcast has far reaching implications. It sends the message that the government wants to suppress the media, control the narrative, and stifle freedom of expression. The terms of reference of the Commission of Inquiry dictates that the inquiry be held in public, so did whoever gave the order, contravened the term of reference?
The Commission’s Chairman Andrew Mashalleck was pressed on the matter.
Andrew Marshalleck, Chairman, Commission of Inquiry: “If it were up to me the feed should not have been cut. It wasn’t my decision to make. I didn’t make the decision, somebody made it somewhere for some reason they need to explain themselves. By the Prime Minister’s own appointment , terms of appointment of the commission the proceedings must be public that recording should be public we’re obliged to do it.”
Reporter: So the government has contravened the rules of the proceedings.
Andrew Marshalleck, Chairman, Commission of Inquiry: “Somebody has. You are quick to attribute it to the government I am not so quick.”
Reporter: It was a functionary of the government who did it.
Andrew Marshalleck, Chairman, Commission of Inquiry: “It is.”
Reporter: It’s like saying it’s not the government who sold the assets it’s Ruperto Vicento no sir he did it as a functionary of government, empowered by the government to do something.
Andrew Marshalleck, Chairman, Commission of Inquiry: “Yes and he had ostensible authority and somebody had their hand on some switch.”
The person who had his hand on the switch was Mike Rudon, the newly appointed Director of the Government Press Office. He the order to pull the plug and he seems unapologetic about it.