Prime Minister John Briceno returned from the United States of America on Saturday after attending the Ninth Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles, California. On Thursday, the PM delivered a speech during the summit that the New York Times called “remarkable”. Reuters reported that PM Briceno in his speech upbraided US President Joe Biden. During his presentation, Briceno criticized the exclusion of Communist-ruled Cuba and leftist Venezuela, calling the “illegal blockade against Cuba” an “affront to humanity.” “In fact, it is un-American. The time has come, Mr. President, to lift the blockade,” Briceno said. “At this most critical juncture, when the future of our hemisphere is at stake, we stand divided,” he said. “And that is why the Summit of the Americas should have been inclusive.” But will the PM’s comments come with repercussions? That is what Love News asked the PM on Saturday when we met him at the Phillip Goldson International Airport.
Hon. John Briceno, Prime Minister of Belize: “Well it’s the right thing. As I’ve been saying over and over the Summit of the Americas is not one that’s based on ideology or depending on the size of country it’s one that’s based on geography and so that’s it’s called the Summit of the Americas and we believe that it is forums like this that you need to bring everybody to speak under one roof where we can look at one another in the eyes and exchange ideas and see how we can move the region forward.”
Hipolito Novelo, Love FM News: Okay so now Belize sided with Cuba and Venezuela two countries that the US accuses of human rights violations and communism and that there’s no democracy in these two countries. You as the Prime Minister of Belize stood alongside these countries on the international stage do you expect any blowback from the US ? I mean they gave us a lot of funding and a lot of donation of equipment.
Hon. John Briceno, Prime Minister of Belize: “No I don’t expect any sort of blowback. I think countries have the right to determine their own foreign policy and it is no secret that Belize has maintained a special relationship with Cuba from before we were independent. Fidel Castro played a key role in getting Latin America to support Belize.”
Following the Prime Minister’s speech, Opposition Leader Moses “Shyne” Barrow shared his criticism. Barrow said, “The concept that because a country gives you financial assistance then you wholesale normalize and accept their violations of human rights is what is reprehensible…To me, it is nothing more than diplomatic prostitution.” Here is how PM Briceno responded to Barrow’s statements.
Hon. John Briceno, Prime Minister of Belize: “I find it kind of strange that the now Leader of the Opposition whose father benefited greatly from the largest of Venezuela to the tune of about $500 million from Petrocaribe decided that he wants to criticize the position that Belize has been taking for a very long time. Both Cuba and Venezuela are our friends, we may not agree with everything that they do but likewise with the United States we don’t agree on everything. What’s important that we belong to the region and we should be speaking as one.”