Last Thursday afternoon, the residents of Ambergris Caye turned out in droves and PACKED the morning meeting scheduled by the Government of Belize to address the questions of the public.
Karen Brodie (her photography page) took some beautiful photos of the crowd. Kids of all ages with notes…asking questions…tour guides, fishermen, hotel operators, citizens.
Questions we had about the oil exploration – the exploration that started days before this meeting was even scheduled. But simply said, the public has held a referendum (and resoundingly voted NO) and the government agreed to a ban last year so WHY ARE YOU LOOKING FOR OIL?
This outcry was shared by all: Our local politicians, our Prime Minister, officials that WE have voted into office, have betrayed us.
So why are you looking for oil in this way that is potentially dangerous to the entire reef system?
Even if, as some have speculated, that they would like to use deposits as collateral for more loans, what would stop the next government, the next Prime Minister from drilling – ESPECIALLY if the loan is defaulted on? (Bob Hawkins wrote a great summary of the situation yesterday – “Belize Just Says “No” to Offshore Oil – AGAIN”)
By 2pm, after the first meeting was halted and a second was called, equally full of Belizeans, concerned residents – Minister Heredia, our Minister of Tourism and citizen of San Pedro, announced that EXPLORATION WOULD STOP IMMEDIATELY!
HURRAY! A WIN but…
WE NEED TO MAKE THIS LAW. And I hope that all of us feel empowered by our victory last week to talk to our ministers about making this happen!
From Oceana Belize: “On Thursday October 20th, Minister of Tourism Manuel Heredia notified the nation that Cabinet, at its sitting on Tuesday, October 25th, 2016, will be discussing Oceana’s draft offshore drilling moratorium legislation. Here is that three page document for your reference.”
As you can see from the date, this proposed bill was submitted over a year ago to the GOB.
Currently the Referendum Act of Belize is in place for two purposes only:
“…a referendum shall be held on the following issues:- (a) any amendment to Part II of the Constitution which derogates from the fundamental rights and freedoms guaranteed therein; and (b) any proposed settlement with Guatemala for resolving the Belize/Guatemala dispute.”
Minister Heredia committed to working on amending this act at last Thursday’s meeting before the town.
My opinion? Okay…you dragged it out of me. I think this bill is a great start but no plan or amount of money set aside will deal with the DEVASTATION of a spill on the largest reef in our hemisphere.
For example, many newspapers this year estimated that the 2010 oil spill of the Deep Water Horizon platform cost BP (British Petroleum) $62 billion US dollars (about 40 times the GDP of Belize). The spill covered 580 square miles – that’s just the actual slick. Oil was found hundreds of miles away.
Turneffe Atoll’s area is less than 300 square miles. Belize is 173 miles for north to south.
SO…what can we do? We can step away from party lines – from UDP or PUP, blue or red, and let politicians know that this is BIGGER than politics. Talk to friends, talk to visitors and…
We MUST let our elected officials know what we want. That we will NOT stand for oil exploration or drilling offshore. Not one kilometer from our reef, not 5 kms, not 10.
We can sign the Oceana’s call for a total ban.
We can share the articles that we agree with – whether this or those from Ambergris Today or the San Pedro Sun or international magazines like Travel + Leisure or all of them. Social media is incredibly powerful. And helps all of us feel like we are not alone in our opinions. Power in numbers!
We can follow Oceana Belize’s Facebook page for updates – you can also donate money to this cause on their site.
If in San Pedro on Sunday night, you can attend the viewing of the one hour long documentary – Seismic Sea. About the effects of seismic blasting on sea creatures. WITH a community discussion afterward.
7pm at the Truck Stop.
Every thought what it would be like to be a deaf dolphin?
The exploration boats, Northern Explorer and the Campeche, are on their way out of Belize waters!
Apparently they felt unwelcome.
Let’s make sure they NEVER COME BACK AGAIN.