As the current 31 Parliamentarians prepare to exit the National Assembly once the dissolution of the house takes place, last Friday’s House Meeting was not in the least bit dull. As a matter of fact, the debate was lively and an injection of playful banter was entertaining to say the least between Prime Minister Dean Barrow and the Area Representative for Cayo South, Julius Espat. Here is how the two politicians took a few final jabs at each other.
Hon. Julius Espat, Area Representative for Cayo South: “Some people might think that your role in this house might, that it might not be pleasing to them but in my specific case Madam Speaker I would like to say probably your appointment was the only positive thing the Prime Minister has done in his eight years. I applaud him for appointing a woman, a professional – a UDP supporter but somebody that has been fair with me. I mean you wouldn’t be there if you weren’t a UDP supporter lets be real but I respect you Madam Speaker and it might have been easier to respect you because I only have one other person to compare you to and I don’t want to go in that direction but you know what I mean. But so if there’s one thing the Prime Minister did is to support women when it came to the legislature and you’re an example of that so kudos to that. I don’t think I agree with the Prime Minister with anything else but I don’t consider him my enemy, I consider him my opponent and in this case my past opponent. So as the representative of present and a present himself Madam Speaker I will tell the Prime Minister lets rumble in the jungle , call the thing boss, mek we deal with it one time and for all. We in Cayo south we are ready to rumble.”
As tradition would dictate the Prime Minister’s did not take Espat’s jabs lightly. Bad back and all the PM rose with quick wit and sarcasm.
Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister of Belize: “I am flabbergasted, pleased but flabbergasted. You were extremely calm, extremely rational, you even made clear that you do not consider me your enemy. Did I hear you actually say that you even considered me a friend ? Well if we are friends then I would want to offer to do something for you. First of all to say that I am very glad that you conducted yourself in such an almost statesmanlike fashion this evening because we have grown accustomed to having to wonder depending on the particular House meeting which member for Cayo South with show up. You know that there are times when you behave in an almost lunatic fashion in terms of your angry outbursts but the reason I say that is mainly to underline the concern that I have for you since we are now friends. “
Hon. Julius Espat, Area Representative, Cayo South: “Did I say that ?”
Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister of Belize: “I thought you did.”
Hon. Julius Espat, Area Representative, Cayo South: “No.”
Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister of Belize: “Well I consider you my friend then and I’m going to do this friendly thing for you. I looked at something you know, the Harvard School of Public Health concluded that outbursts of anger increased the risk of heart attacks, stroke and other cardio vascular problems especially in the two hours immediately following the incident. I glad because you noh wah dead in the next two hours because you neva behave like that today but how come when you do it before how come nothing happen to you ? I think you da wah rare and special creature. So what I want to do is to – I noh wah give up my pension because when I give up my salary thinking you mi wah follow suit unu noh give up wah penny – so I noh wah give up mi pension but I wah start wah collection and I wah mek the first donation. I wah we tek up wah collection fi send you da Harvard, no fu go study but dah dis Harvard public health so that they could examine you and find out how it is that not withstanding fi deh scientific conclusions that when you behave inna di way you normally behave you gah wah heart attack dat it noh happen to you. I personally wah you go dah Harvard and I wah help fu find di money fi sen yu.”
On a more serious note, the Area Representative for Cayo Northeast, Orlando Habet took on the issue of the cattle trade in Belize. According to Habet the agreement formed with Guatemala has brought a loss for the ranchers as there has been a surplus of cattle for the farmers.
Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister of Belize: Part of your problem is that when you promote this illegal trade you are saying that you do so for several reasons including the fact that there are no controls, there are not tax controls, there are no foreign exchange controls, there are no money laundering controls. How could you people – that it was happening for years and years is neither here nor there. COVID came it could not take place in the COVID atmosphere but bigger than that it ought to have stopped a long time ago. So- because things bad the export of drugs is illegal too if they could do it informally you would plump for that as well ? You need to stop and hear yourself talk. You need to listen to what you’re saying. You cannot keep insisting that a government officially must pursue an activity that’s illegal in an illegal way.”
Also, in Friday’s House Meeting, Area Representative for Port Loyola Anthony Boots Martinez was in the hot seat when the Leader of the Opposition, John Briceno presented documents showing an abuse of public funds allegedly tantamount to corruption. Briceno says the documents show that the ministry that Martinez is responsible for was paying rent to him in the thousands. Martinez stood up in the House to refute the allegations and then he gave an interview to the media on the matter.
Anthony Boots Martinez, Minister of Human Development: “He doesn’t have no documents that is an outright liar. He’s a liar sir and there’s no such document to prove that. The $4,000 a month they say that is due to all elected representatives including him and that comes from the Office of the Prime Minister. There is nothing on record where I Anthony Boots Martinez is no – I collect no money for no rent. I don’t rent any building to no government you see and I’m just being straightforward. I unlike him and my family – you know I need to be straight forward have never been involved in illicit activity, never involved in corruption unlike his father who went to jail in the United States for drug trafficking so they don’t look at me look at yourself. Shell gas station, all Shell gas station of which he’s a partner in makes millions of dollars they are the exclusive provider of gasoline to government and to all government you know and he controls the Shell gas station at Cemetery Road and he controls the Shell gas station in Orange Walk. Millions of dollars you’re talking about —“
Reporter: Yeah but that’s different sir.
Anthony Boots Martinez, Minister of Human Development: “What is different ? I said no sir that is not so.”
Reporter: It is different because you are in government, it is your ministry and —-
Anthony Boots Martinez, Minister of Human Development: “No sir that is not so. He’s a member of Parliament and that has been operating even when he was in government too..”
Reporter: Even under your Prime Minister’s government.
Anthony Boots Martinez, Minister of Human Development: ” Yes that is what I’m saying. “
Reporter: So clearly the Prime Minister doesn’t see anything wrong with it but I’m saying that the documents that he has there he is reading the transactions they show that your family has received thousands of dollars —-
Anthony Boots Martinez, Minister of Human Development: “That is no so sir. That is not so.”