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“Begin to deliver on the 10,000 homes” requests Shyne Barrow as he hits back at the PUP government 

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Posted: Saturday, February 6, 2021. 5:43 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: Minister of Infrastructure Development and Housing, Julius Espat, can perhaps be forgiven for staring across the aisle at the National Assembly, at member for Mesopotamia Moses “Shyne” Barrow, and seeing the ghost of his old political adversary, former Prime Minister Dean Barrow. 

Legendary were their showdowns in Belmopan on most Fridays, and Espat must have thought it was Round 2 when he addressed the younger Barrow’s question of “when will the construction and distribution of the 10 thousand houses promised in your administration’s election manifesto begin?” 

But in an exclusive interview with Breaking Belize News (BBN) today, Shyne Barrow made clear that he is not his father, nor his uncle, former Minister of Housing Michael Finnegan, and so their alleged sins and misdeeds have no bearing on him.

Barrow says he found Espat’s response, apart from the insults and denigrations, to be lacking in the kind of details his constituents want to know. “Everybody wants to know what they will do – it doesn’t matter who the Minister is,” said Barrow, adding, “I was not the Minister of Housing, I was not the Prime Minister; I didn’t work for the Ministry of Housing, I didn’t get contracts from the Ministry of Housing, so what they did, what does that have to do with me?” 

And to Espat’s scorn when thundering, “How dare you” at him, Barrow reiterates that he is not now a private citizen; he was elected by the people of Mesopotamia and represents them, and so the question is on their behalf and by extension, all Belizeans, since housing is a key concern. 

And Barrow says he will refrain from getting into Espat’s dealings before getting into office, including allegations of past contracts to build various City landmarks such as the Court of Appeal Building or to buy property owned by the Government of Belize. Likewise, he could point out that while his father has never been convicted of any offence, the Prime Minister’s father, Elijio “Joe” Briceno, was convicted while in office for his involvement in drug trafficking, and that another former Prime Minister, Said Musa, was accused (but not convicted) of theft by diverting Venezuelan grant funds to pay a Belize Bank loan for the former Universal Health Services, a debt that remains unpaid to this day and remain a burden to the country of Belize. 

As the younger Barrow pointed out, his father, Dean Barrow, engineered the diversion of those funds and funds from Taiwan to a nationwide housing project when he took office in 2008, so it is not necessarily true that no investment in new housing or housing repair took place for the entirety of the elder Barrow’s three terms. 

And Shyne  highlighted that he has built two “modest” houses for constituents of his division, a one-bedroom and two-bedroom dwelling respectively. 

But as he maintains, no one holds the retired Fort George representative’s sins against his two parliamentarian sons, Kareem Musa and Henry Charles Usher, or the activities of ex-Minister of Lands Florencio Marin, Sr., against his son, now Minister of National Defence, Florencio Marin, Jr., and so that kind of politicking needs to stop.

Where are their priorities, Barrow asked? It is clear to him that from the insults and denigrations employed by Espat, there is no sustained plan – they appear not even to have considered talking to the banks about re-engineering housing loans and freezing mortgage payments. 

Many middle-class Belizeans, Barrow concluded, have plunged toward poverty as a result of COVID-19, and he speaks for all of them, whether in Mesopotamia, Lake Independence, Collet, or elsewhere.

 

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