Posted: Sunday, June 25, 2023. 7:27 pm CST.
By Aaron Humes: While a referendum is not imminent, the Government will be reminded that some 22 thousand Belizeans have responded to Oceana Belize’s call for a referendum of consultation on a potential lifting of the 2017 offshore oil exploration and operation moratorium.
Since November 2022, when Oceana revealed Government’s plans to allow seismic testing to gain, it claimed, a better understanding of what petroleum and natural gas resources Belize has, if any, it has been collecting, verifying, and vetting the personal information accompanying these signatures, and on Thursday delivered them to Governor-General Dame Froyla Tzalam.
Oceana’s Vice President Janelle Chanona emphasized the significance of this petition this way: “This signature drive reminds, respects and resoundingly reiterates that Belizeans want to be heard on this national issue. Today is all about the sensational resiliency of Belizeans to love and protect livelihoods, identity, and food security from an inherently dirty and dangerous industry. An official vote will finally ensure that if any future administration wants to lift the moratorium, that administration would be guided by the Belizean electorate and made collectively, transparently, and after well-informed deliberation. As stewards of one of the most globally significant marine environments and leaders of innovative financial mechanisms, we have a clear responsibility to ensure that generations of Belizeans will always be able to enjoy the beauty and bounty of our precious Caribbean Sea.”
The petitions took up 10 plastic containers and Chanona conceded that tons of paper which will now need to be vetted by the Governor-General’s team and Elections and Boundaries Department is perhaps wasteful, but if Government does decide to lift the moratorium then it will be worth it to give Belizeans a chance to have their voices fully heard, as she insists should be done on other national issues more regularly.
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