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Unnamed Mennonite pastor distances community from ‘Free Belize’ protests

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Posted: Saturday, September 18, 2021. 5:23 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: A pastor and community member in the village of Spanish Lookout, Cayo District, has spoken exclusively to Breaking Belize News to distance himself, the congregations he’s affiliated with, and, he believes, many residents of the village from the “Free Belize” protest movement, especially the way these events are conducted. He agrees with an effort to promote freedom of choice regarding vaccines, but not with the spirit that drives these particular protests. Lasting change for good must come through edifying actions, speech, and attitudes.

That movement has organized protests and caravans between the village and San Ignacio Town in recent days and was set to make an appearance in Belize City today but for police intervention. We’ll have more on that in a subsequent story.

The unnamed community member is deeply concerned that these protests, “including the ones that either passed through or originated in Spanish Lookout, have been wrongly portrayed in various media outlets as formally organized by the Spanish Lookout community itself.”

On the contrary, he states, “These protests and caravans are being organized by certain individuals within our community who I believe have somewhat lost their faith in God’s power through prayer and calm, rational reasoning with relevant authorities. It’s still a fact that practically 100% of residents in the community, myself included, do not believe the vaccine mandate as earlier proposed by Minister of Health and Wellness Michel Chebat is ethically right, but even then, the majority of our people feel that by the way these protests are promoted and organized, that does not represent what we generally stand for in Spanish Lookout.”

He adds, “Community leaders have discouraged these kinds of protests, and as a pastor myself, directly affiliated with a handful of local congregations, we clearly teach against lowering ourselves to a level where we must resort to such attitudes and activities. We must never underestimate the power of love and respect for each other.”

Authorities have since been seen in the area handing out tickets for violations of the Quarantine Regulations even as grumbling on social media has picked up among those who question the “special exemptions” that the community has gotten since settling here more than a half-century ago.

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