COLA HOLDS SUCCESSFUL ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING IN BELIZE CITY, REAFFIRMS COMMITMENT TO ‘NO ICJ’ CAMPAIGN
Monday, February 4th, 2013
Press Release – February 2, 2013 – BELIZE CITY – Citizens Organized for Liberty through Action (COLA) re-committed to the development of its membership and the continuous fight against attempted tyranny and misbehavior of leaders and authorities at its annual general meeting held today in Belize City.
At the Bishop Sylvestre Memorial Hall in Belize City, members heard from their representatives on the executive as to the organization’s activities in the past year and plans for the year to come.
COLA bid farewell to Vice-president Karim Mawema, who is relocating to Los Angeles, California, to work. But his departure is not for good, as he remains committed to the cause and has agreed to open COLA’s first international chapter in the California area for California Belizeans. A second chapter is being constructed on the East Coast in Florida, showing COLA’s commitment to the important Belizean-American voice in national development.
COLA President Geovannie Brackett’s report made much of COLA’s two key causes in the past year: the anti-offshore drilling movement, which saw COLA join with the Belize Coalition to Save Our Natural Heritage in the historic People’s Referendum commissioned after the Government’s refusal to allow for a proper referendum; and later with OCEANA to fight the legal case against the referendum rejection and the oil concessions granted secretly to international companies; and the second is the ‘NO ICJ’ campaign, beginning with the public repudiation of the OAS in August and again in October after their inaccurate reporting and the Government’s acquiescence, and continuing through the bold representation at the referendum campaign launch at the Radisson on January 23.
COLA member Edward Young introduced ‘NO ICJ’ t-shirts for sale for $15, conceived as a way to show the wearer’s stance on this important national issue. COLA will use the funds collected to pay back for the printing of shirts and to otherwise fund the campaign on this issue, which Young described as “our Heads of Agreement” in reference to the 1981 series of proposals that sparked widespread dissatisfaction and rioting.
COLA Toledo leader, journalist and activist Wil Maheia confirmed support for the organization in the South and mentioned plans to personally go out to the border to clear the line, stating that Government has consistently neglected the border line since independence in 1981.
National Security Director Jihad McLaren spoke out, pointing out that national security encompasses energy, economic and environmental issues and deplored the Government’s apparent ease with the current state of affairs. He decried the Director of Public Prosecutions’ Cheryl-Lynn Vidal’s continued employment despite a worsening conviction rate of 3% and her unexplained ties to Gang Suppression Unit/Special Branch director Superintendent Marco Vidal, whose men are training in El Salvador, a country with the worst record of human rights violations by law enforcement. McLaren called for greater vigilance by the public and the introduction of military training for youths to give them an alternative path to wanton violence, declaring that if they were not prepared to defend Belize they did not deserve to live here.
Guest speakers included Tanya Williams from the Coalition and Ramon Cervantes from Orange Walk who reminded the gathering of the 4th anniversary of the passing of Atanacio Gutierrez, cane farmer from San Victor, Corozal who was killed, allegedly by security forces, at the Tower Hill sugar riots of February, 2009. His family and the other men injured have not been compensated, unlike the Guatemalan killed in Belize in September of 2012, and no justice has been served. A moment of silence was observed in his honor.
Elections of officers followed, presided over by Rufus X, who spoke of the promotion of “genocide” among black youths and the Government’s acquiescence and kowtowing to London and Washington.
The main executives were all elected unanimously, with no challenges from the floor. They are: Geovannie Brackett, President; Gilroy Usher, Jr., Vice-President; Alton Humes, Secretary; Edward Young, Treasurer; Trustees, Ismay Williams, Micah Goodin and Frank Castillo. Castillo also serves as chair of the Fundraising Committee along with Albert Cattouse; they are responsible for public fundraising for the organization. Members Rufus X and Brother Bernard Adolphus while not serving in the capacity of their former post, pledges to give it total support to the cause.
President of COLA