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African-descent Belizeans to get joint representative on People’s Constitution Commission

Groups representing the rights of African-descent Belizeans will also get a joint seat on the People's Constitution Commission, Good Governance Director Dr. Cesar Ross told The Reporter Friday.

Ross informed that several groups, including the Central American Black Organization (CABO), the UBAD Educational Foundation (UEF), and the National Kriol Council (NKC), have reached out to the Good Governance Unit for representation. In response, the director explained that his unit is drafting proposals for their inclusion. This proposal will be taken to the committee meeting scheduled for Monday, July 25.

"We are looking at how to get one representative to speak for all of them, in an umbrella type of way, as we did with the media," Ross explained.

Earlier this week, the National Kriol Council (NKC) issued a statement calling on the Government of Belize to ensure that the NKC is afforded a seat on the Commission, as, in their view, not doing so would diminish the value of the contributions made by Belizean Kriol people who have laid the foundation for an independent Belize.

In a letter dated March 14, 2022, UEF, for their part, had likewise argued their case as to why they should receive two seats, with one being held by a local Belizean of African descent and the other by a "Belizean American from the Diaspora."

Addressed to Minister of The Public Service, Constitutional and Political Reform, and Religious Affairs Hon. Henry Charles Usher, UEF wrote:

"As a group, people of Afrikan ancestry and heritage in Belize have been impacted negatively by a number of national policies that we did not contribute to prior to decisions being made that harmed Afrikan Belizeans disproportionately. Accordingly, UEF is adamant that we must have these 2 Afrikan Belizean community representatives who are trusted by Afrikan Belizeans to advocate in our best interest and have a record of independent thinking and actions on the Belize Constitutional Reform Commission. The 2 Afrikan Belizean Representatives are Belizean Diaspora/Bilal Morris (BREDAA) and YaYa Marin Coleman/Afrikan Heritage Communities in Belize/UEF Chairperson."

Ross said he understood why groups of this nature would be calling for a seat, especially with the launch of the Commission scheduled for Emancipation Day, a most sacred day for those of African descent.

The People's Constitution Commission, which will take its mandate from the eponymously named Bill (see Bill here), is tasked with conducting "a comprehensive review of the Belize Constitution" and, after engaging in broad-based consultations with citizens, prepare and submit a report of their findings to the Prime Minister.


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