By Aaron Humes: Blaming the Government for its inability to obtain a permit for a peaceful protest on Tuesday at the Shell One Stop Gas Station in Belize City, the United Democratic Party says it will protest anyway.
“The Briceño administration is exhibiting communist dictatorial tendencies evidenced by its treatment of the free press and now its attempt to stop the Opposition from protesting this suppressive regime,” the party said in a statement in which it cites as its reasons for the protest “high gas prices, high cost of living, corruption, crime and a dramatic deterioration in the quality of life for Belizeans.”
In a brief response to party chairman Michael Peyrefitte, Officer Commanding Eastern Division Assistant Commissioner Howell Gillett cites “the ongoing State of Emergency” and “our other operational priorities” as reasons for not being able to provide security for the event and so denying the permit to protest.
The UDP calls the move “autocratic” and “authoritarian” and calls Belizeans in agreement with them to join in.
Chairman Peyrefitte told Channel 7 News that the timing of the response on Friday would make it difficult, with the Supreme Court on vacation, to obtain an injunction from a judge, but under the law, no more than five persons may gather in a group in any area as long as they are distanced from each other and not behaving disorderly.
Peyrefitte surmised that part of the issue may be the location; another part may be that the Commissioner of Police is not inclined to do the Opposition any favours after they have repeatedly called for his resignation, but he insists that when the shoe was on the other foot, the UDP denied no one their right to protest (although one recalls the breaking up of the meetings at Mile 41 on the George Price Highway hosted by Nigel Petillo when some sought to occupy land in that area).
Referring to the UDP’s recent internal turmoil, Peyrefitte said he figured that the Government would not be scared of a protest from a supposedly weak and divided Opposition.