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November 23
10:33 2018

At his October 29th press conference Prime Minister Dean Barrow announced, quite astonishingly, that not only is the Cabinet in support of the ICJ but that the UDP’s formal position is also in support of the ICJ. With that statement Mr. Barrow sprung the trap he had set for the PUP.

Mr. Briceño’s PUP cannot now adopt a NO position without coming across as being partisan; and it cannot formally support a YES vote without appearing to be soft on the Barrow administration and thus risk internal revolt by those powerhouses who are on record as supporting a NO vote. The best that Mr. Briceño’s PUP can now do is to continue to espouse a conscience vote and risk being labelled as being deficient in leadership on what is Belize’s most existential question since Independence.

Mr Barrow’s announcement is a reversal from his earlier position that he would not seek to influence anybody in respect of how they should vote on April 10th 2019. Though he favours a YES vote,Mr Barrow had already told the Belizean people that he would espouse a conscience vote for all Belizeans including members of his Party.

The Media seemed to have glossed over the PM’s declaration on October 29thand he was not pressed about what led to the reversal. When exactly did the UDP take such a position and how comes nobody, especially the Media, knew about it?

Mr. Barrow’s announcement on October 29th has for all intents and purposes cast the Referendum squarely into the fray of partisan politics, the one thing Mr. Barrow promised he would never do!

On close examination Mr. Barrow deliberately misled the PUP with his appeal for a non-partisan approach to the 2019 Referendum. The PUP has had almost 10 years since the Compromis was signed to form a position and it has failed to do so. It has instead, not wanting to appear partisan, adopted the position espoused by Mr. Barrow: a conscience vote!And to repeat, Mr. Barrow, quite cunningly, abandoned that position on October 29th.

The deception in Mr. Barrow’s approach was that he was only prepared to maintain that position if he sensed that the people of Belize were in favour of going to the ICJ. However, sensing now that the “official campaign” might not deliver a YES vote Mr. Barrow has resorted to introducing partisan politics into the fray. This is so because increasingly, people are beginning to see the Referendum as one that is not just about the ICJ but one on the Barrow administration itself; ala BREXIT. Mr. Barrow must therefore deliver a YES vote or risk making matters worse for his successor.

Mr. Briceño has carefully navigated his Party along the conscience vote routeinitially espoused by Mr. Barrow. But Mr. Briceño has done so against a back drop of increasing pressure from within his National Executive.

Two things have happened over the last three months that haveincreased Mr. Briceño’s peril.The first was the August 11th meeting of the PUP’s Southern Caucus and their public declaration supporting a NO vote and the secondwas Mr. Barrow’s October 29th betrayal!

The truth is that the PUP has been oscillating on the ICJ matter for too long; it has been indecisive! At first the PUP’s position was that they had no position on the ICJ Referendum other than that they support putting the matter to the Belizean people. Then over the last year or so the PUP shifted its position to one that says they are not prepared to go to the ICJ under the current circumstances: with Sedi leading the process and with Guatemala’s un-neighbourly aggression on the Sarstoon. And today the position seems to be: delay the Referendum!

There has been some disquiet among the National Executive over the PUP’s ICJ position. More and more members of the Executive have been pressing for a definitive position but to no avail. The move by the Southern Caucuswas therefore of great consequence and itprecipitated a “listening tour” by the Party Leader.

The Party Leader finds himself in adicey position. There are many who feel that if this matter is taken to the National Party Council the PUP would adopt a NO position. But as stated above, this plays right into Mr. Barrow’s hands, so we can expect Mr. Briceño to resist taking the matter there, at least not at this juncture.

Forget the UDP/PUP squabbles; there is some backdoor business that neither the UDP nor the PUP has been telling the people of Belize and that is that the so called “Group of Friends”is expecting a YES vote,having paid the Barrow administration millions for it. It is therefore important for the Belizean people to understand who these people are: this “Group of Friends!”

If you examine thehistory of the prominent members of that group you will find a pattern of interference in the sovereign affairs of other countries. They are clever people and they have money; lots of it! These are the people who, as Malcolm X reminded us, taught us to “love the Russians and the Chinese, and to hate the Germans and the Japanese. And then after [World War II], they changed it, and [made us] love the Germans and love the Japanese and hate the Russians and hate the Chinese”.

It is these very people who convinced, firstly Mr. Musa and then Mr. Barrow that the ICJ is the way to go. It is these people who have committed millions to brainwash the Belizean people into thinking that the ICJ is the way to go. And it is these people who Mr. Briceño must be concerned about if the PUP says NO to the ICJ and the NO votes succeed in April 2019.

To repeat, in November 2018,Mr. Briceño finds himself in adicey position. Mr. Briceño wants to be Prime Minister in 2020 but the 2019 Referendumspeed bump lies just before 2020 and so Mr. Briceñomust walk the ICJ tight rope.

Mr. Barrow understands the predicament in which Mr. Briceño finds himself and that is why on October 29th, less than six months away from the referendum, Mr. Barrow told the Belizean people that Mr. Briceño asked him to postpone the Referendum until after the 2020 general elections.With that announcement, whether true or not, Mr. Barrow denuded Mr. Briceño.

Say what you will about Mr. Barrow but you have to give him credit, he is Machiavellian!Let’s see how Mr. Briceño responds, the future of Belize hangs in the balance.

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