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Elected media representatives on People’s Constitutional Commission pledge to uphold values of free press

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Posted: Sunday, July 24, 2022. 11:44 am CST.

By Aaron Humes: The announcement particularly of Louis Wade as the representative of the free press has led to grumblings in some quarters because of his ties to the Evangelical movement.

He was elected at a Friday morning virtual meeting called after formal notice was given by the Good Governance Unit of the Ministry of the Public Service, Constitutional and Political Reform and Religious Affairs just a few days earlier.

But in an interview with the press corps on Friday he acknowledged that he will have to put those ties aside and work to address the concerns of the institutions he represents: “I believe that over the years, the issues, as it relates to free speech, as it relates to so many other issues with the media being, in my opinion, the guardian of the democracy, of the people and informants of the democracy, we need to ensure that those principles are firmly rooted in the Constitution…. Media, you’re in the street every day. You talk to every layer of the society, and so the media has a very good grasp of what’s right in this country and what’s wrong in this country. So, I look forward to hearing from the media and representing them to the people and also representing the people to them.”

He also promised to be a team player: “I am also a person who believes in a team. I never work alone, so I’m going to look forward to hearing from my media colleagues what their thoughts are.

The independent press also voted on an alternate for Wade when he can’t attend. Channel 7’s Daniel Ortiz was nominated, and he received support from 8 out of the 11 participating media houses as the alternate.

Ortiz, despite 12 years working in the press, acknowledged that he is far more used to asking questions than answering them, but he was suitably humble and eager to participate in a momentous process: “…who better than the press to keep an eye on these types of processes? I see it as a patriotic duty. The leaders of our country have said that they want to modernize the Constitution, and they want to remove the relics of colonialism from it. Well, I’m happy to participate in that process, and I’m glad that the government of the day heard us as the press and decided to include us as stakeholders.”

As to the issue of inclusion, Wade noted in response to the Evangelical Association of Belize not receiving or even getting to participate as the Belize Council of Churches has: “The Constitution is for everyone in Belize, and we need as much inclusion as possible of people. That constitution is for every Belizean, but it’s also for those who will visit us and those who will be born later, and those who will come to our country later. So, we need to also look around to see what peoples are not so far included in the discourse and to ensure that they are around on the table. I think, later on, we will be discussing what is in and what is out and what we want, and so on. But as it relates to the WHO, we need to make sure that all the reasons are equally represented.”

 

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