Foreign Minister Elrington Defends OAS


Thu, July 26, 2012

Even for a public figure stewed in the mud of everyday political discourse – it’s probably not easy to tolerate being called a Judas and a Traitor.

That’s what Foreign Minister Wilfred Elrington got called yesterday when COLA staged a small but powerfully symbolic protest in front of the OAS Local Office.

They ended by burning up images of Elrington and printouts of the OAS flag.

Today Elrington told us he isn’t bothered by it – and he explained why in this interview:..

 

Jules Vasquez
“It has to pain you in some way to see your name drag into the public discourse as Judas and traitor?”

Hon. Wilfred “Sedi” Elrington – Minister of Foreign Affairs
“Actually it doesn’t Jules, as I indicated earlier to you this morning, it is not what I am called that bothers me, it is who does the name calling. People are very free to express their views and it is the easiest thing to call people unpleasant names.”

 

 

Jules Vasquez
“They think that you are not taking a staunch and stout stand for Belize in the name of Belize in this entire press release affair. It indicates that you are not heart and soul for the job.”

Hon. Wilfred “Sedi” Elrington
“Actually even before they were out there exhibiting their frustration the OAS had already taken steps to correct the incident and indeed from the time we were inform of this incident the ministry of foreign affairs went into overdrive to ensure that we didn’t have a negative fallout from this incident. We were in contact with the OAS very early; our ambassadors were in contact with them both the one in Washington as well as the one in Guatemala.”

“When the unfortunate release came out our people both in Guatemala and in Washington took issue with it. In fact the OAS as well and even before they were out there yesterday that matter was clarified and cleared up. My understanding is that the secretary general indicated that he was mis-interpreted. He said that he has used the expression “laventable” in Spanish and apparently it got messed up in the translation and the staff at the OAS made two errors. If you know anything about the OAS you know it has a very heavy Latin staff and it is not always that they are able to do the translations. But I am not one to rush to judgment and certainly to condemnation with respect to anybody but in particular with respect to the OAS because I firmly am of the view that if any organization is on Belize’s side and is really trying to help Belize to remain safe and secure it is the Organization of Americas States. I certainly don’t feel like I am in a position to be bashing the OAS. It turns out as I said there had to have been some problem, there was a miscommunication and that is what transpired.”

Jules Vasquez
“Are you concern that it will taint emotionalism surrounding that mis-statement – will induce a feeling that the OAS is in fact not a good faith even-handed mediator and the entire flap over the incident will induce a backlash against the OAS and against the entire referendum process and the ICJ process?”

Hon. Wilfred “Sedi” Elrington
“It shouldn’t happen among right thinking people as I said. People make mistakes, I was watching the news last night and I saw on the television just after the showing of the Belize issue and I went to the American news – there was this photograph of the South Korean Olympic team being placed against the flag of the North Korean – I mean what gaff, these things happen.”

Jules Vasquez
“These things have consequences – South Korea refuse to play and Olympic match because of that.”

Hon. Wilfred “Sedi” Elrington
“But it has been resolved though. They have gotten over it you see. These things happen, people are not perfect. So you don’t take these extreme positions. The kind of assistance that we get from the OAS and particularly form the secretary general have cause me to have great respect for him and certainly I will not be among those who are bashing them. They have already clarified the situation. It was done not because of the demonstration but because of the splendid work that our team of ambassadors around the world have been doing.”

 

Jules Vasquez
“But at the same time there is a public record and the public record has the OAS’s final word has been that it happen within the adjacency zone erroneous that it is reprehensible mischaracterization. That is the final press release sent out at 3:19pm central standard time on Friday. That is the permanent public record.”

Hon. Wilfred “Sedi” Elrington
“I heard my CEO on yesterday indicating that the OAS had already clarify the matter publicly stating that.”

We are told by our colleagues at LOVE FM that there was a third sanitized version of the press release posted on the OAS website yesterday. It was not mailed out – as their releases always are – but – according to LOVE – the revised version removed any reference to a location of the incident. It adds that since the incident, Secretary General Insulza has been in contact with the foreign ministers of both countries and their respective ambassadors accredited to the OAS.

We have to quote LOVE FM because when we visited the site today, this third, revised release had been completely removed from the website – a finding confirmed by our colleagues at LOVE.

Now, it’s unto high level meetings between Belize and Guatemala which will be held July 31st at the OAS in Washington DC.

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