top of page

NTUCB President to all Parliamentarians: stop picking sides in cruise-ports' race!

National Trade Union Congress of Belize (NTUCB) President Luke Martinez says all parliamentarians—whether in the lower or upper house—need to manage the appearance of conflict of interest and stop picking sides in the cruise-ports’ race.

Speaking with The Reporter on Thursday, Martinez, citing section 121 of the Constitution of Belize, underscored that there are signs that different members of Parliament in both houses have sided with one project or the other. The Constitution is clear:

“The persons to whom this section applies shall conduct themselves in such a way as not (a) to place themselves in positions in which they have or could have a conflict of interest; (b) to compromise the fair exercise of their public or official functions and duties, … (d) to demean their office or position; (e) to allow their integrity to be called into question; or (f) to endanger or diminish respect for, or confidence in, the integrity of the Government.”

That section of the Constitution expressly applies to “members of the National Assembly” and, therefore, captures both sides of the House of Representatives and all members of the Senate.

While Martinez spoke generally and avoided singling out any particular Area Representative or senator, the statement falls within a backdrop where the Leader of the Opposition has openly renounced one of the three cruise projects, going as far to have written a June 12th letter to the Chief Executive Officer of Royal Caribbean Group, an international, private company, to, among other things, advise against the particular project.

Royal Caribbean’s Response and Counter-response

Regarding the aforementioned letter, Royal Caribbean Group (RCG) responded to the Leader of the Opposition Hon. Moses “Shyne” Barrow, via a letter dated June 23. The company elaborated on the reasons for its strategic and private-sector investment decision with Portico RCG—an international company that operates a global fleet of 64 ships that travels to roughly 1,000 destinations globally—answered the LOO’s letter saying:

“Following our analysis, we determined that the Port of Magical Belize is the only project of the three, that meets our standards for environmental impact and operational viability.”

The response follows the LOO’s extraordinary and unusual step for a government official and legislature member to openly and directly tell a company where it should target its investment decisions. For context, Barrow wrote RCG to, among other things, say:

“With such clouds of suspicion hovering above Portico, commercial prudence dictates that you cancel your MOU that was signed under fraudulent premises and seek alternative cruise port partners such as Waterloo and Stake Bank.”

Previously, Hon. Barrow, in an April 14th, 2023, interview, had told the media which project he considers most worthwhile.

My hope and my prayer is that rather than litigate with Lord Ashcroft and the Waterloo proprietors and PBL, it is that you find a solution,” he said. “There has to be a solution to see the Waterloo project green lit which is the best project.”

While having gone on record to classify Waterloo as the “best” option, Barrow—as shown in his June 12th letter—has sometimes pointed to the Stake Bank project as a viable alternative.

Earlier this week, again while speaking with the media, Barrow reiterated his preferences:

“I don't understand why Royal Caribbean would want anything to do with Portico. They have said that they will meet with me when they visit. I look forward to that meeting so that I can ask them these questions why in heaven's name would you want anything to do with Portico when you have Stake Bank ready to go.”

For its part, Royal Caribbean, in its reply to Barrow, essentially informed that their decision to work with Portico had nothing to do with the now notorious and controversial definitive agreement.

RCG has been evaluating the progress of the three port projects situated near Belize City. Over

the course of the past year, we have invested considerable resources to conduct an in-depth analysis of each project, evaluating how each aligns with our guiding principles for sustainable and operationally viable developments,” the Company wrote. “The review was done in collaboration with a globally recognized infrastructure advisory firm specializing in the planning, environmental impact assessment, and design of facilities that shape and serve global coastlines.

The Company added:

In keeping with our commitment towards promoting collaboration and advancing Belize’s sustainable tourism industry, we recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Portico and Boskalis. The preliminary agreement allows for our continued collaboration while we undertake additional due diligence on the project. The referenced Definitive Agreement was executed prior to RCG’s association with Portico on the Port of Magical Belize, and it is our understanding that Portico is working closely with the Government to either amend the Definitive Agreement or execute a new Definitive Agreement to address stakeholder concerns with the existing document.

63 views0 comments


bottom of page