The Belize National Teachers’ Union is taking on a campaign that is scheduled to be launched in Benque Viejo del Carmen in the Cayo District with its main focus being the Belize/Guatemala issue. The President of the Belize Teachers’ Union, Luke Palacio entertained the media this afternoon where he explained that this undertaking is a part of the union’s constitution aimed at becoming involved in national issues.
“The BNTU’s constitution objective number nine states that the BNTU is to project and maintain a proactive position on issues of national, regional and international interest that will impact on the independent sovereignty, social, economic and political well being of our people and nation. In that regard the BNTU at its 46th annual convention held in Punta Gorda at the end of March passed a resolution as it relates to the matter of the Belize Guatemala differendum and so we believe that this is an issue of national importance and that the Belizean populace needs to be educated, sensitized on how we move forward. Our goal obviously is that we must ensure that every Belizean man woman and child will understand the issues and will be prepared to stand up for Belize hence the name of our campaign is the “Stand up for Belize” campaign.”
At Friday’s launch at Mount Carmel High School, presentations will be made by former Foreign Minister, Assad Shoman and Foreign Affairs Minister, Wilfred Elrington. According to Palacio, they are seeking to get the views of these gentlemen on the International Court of Justice, in an effort to keep the teachers informed on the current status of the negotiations and discussions.
“Basically what we are seeking as BNTU is for these representatives to indicate to us what their position would be on the ICJ, we are not taking a vote on the ICJ at this point but we also want to hear from them their views on that. We want to hear from them what their plans are in terms of ensuring that this particular issue involving the Belize Guatemala differendum will be above and beyond party politics. We are hoping that they will also make a commitment or at least give an indication as to what other activities they would be engaged in in sensitizing the Belizean public as to the way forward in trying to bring about a peaceful resolution to this issue.”
The participation of all branches, teachers and members is anticipated at Friday’s event as they have been given the directive to liaise with their branch presidents and executive members regarding transportation.
“We are bringing in the ten branches of the BNTU from throughout the country of Belize to Benque and then this campaign is intended to be a sustained campaign so we then intend to move to the districts, the branches will organize activities where will be able to sensitize the public in those respective communities. It is our intention to bring in other parties that also have an interest and are concerned as it relates to how we go about addressing this matter. We are also hoping that we can involve other civil society organizations, the other unions so that again the bottom line remains that we do not want anybody to believe that this issue must be left to any one group of people, it must not be left only up to the government, it must not be left only up to the opposition or the BNTU but the Belizean populace in general needs to ensure that whatever actions and activities we want to engage in that will help to foster and bring about a peaceful solution to this Guatemala differendum is what we are aiming for.”
With the expectation of the participation of countrywide membership, there is the indication that the Ministry of Education has given the go-ahead for schools to be closed for April 15. President Palacio says he is glad that they have come to their senses.
“I must say that we are not only grateful but we are happy that they have come to their senses if you will in the realization that this is not something that we are anti government or that the union just wants to try and create a problem, this is a national issue and yes we are happy they have realized and have collaborated in agreeing that it is a national issue that needs national attention, national input and so yes if the Ministry of Education or the government or any other entity says they want the BNTU to collaborate with them this is what we are talking about.”
Invitations have also been extended to Prime Minister Dean Barrow and the Opposition Leader, John Briceno. The event will be held under the theme, ‘Stand Up For Belize’.