Thousands say aye to the Ninth Amendment. The story outside the House Print E-mail
( 4 Votes )
Written by Shane D. Williams   
Thursday, 27 October 2011 00:00

Thousands support the Ninth Amendment“The single most important event in Belize since Independence Day,” is what some have dubbed October 21st, 2011 to be.  Some have even called it Economic Independence Day.

The buses started arriving around 8:30 a.m. Belizeans from Orange Walk Central were the first to arrive. By 9:30 there were buses from Corozal, Orange Walk, Belize, Cayo, Stann Creek and the Toledo District. Business was good for the food vendors in the market as thousands of Belizeans descended upon the capital city, Belmopan, to witness in person the passage of the Ninth Amendment Bill.

Around 10 ‘ o clock someone shouted, “Deh di come!” That announcement alerted the crowd that the Prime Minister, Members of the Cabinet, Area Representatives, Senators, UDP Standard Bearers and Party Executives were making their way over to the National Assembly. The crowd rushed to the steps of the National Assembly where a single chain line established the perimeter. Before the Prime Minister led his team inside the National Assembly building, he led them towards the high energy crowd. Those at the market left the breakfast table to join the crowd. Those wondering about shifted direction and accelerated gears towards the parliament steps. Individuals in the crowd shouted their favourite representative’s name. People stretched out their hands to shake the Prime Minister’s hand or to pat him on the back with a stroke of encouragement before he went in the House to do the people’s business. It was a display of affection that cannot be bought- not even with a billionaire’s money. Even some members of the House were overwhelmed with the sense of historic significance. Some had their cameras in hand to take photographs in an effort to immortalize the moment.

When the Prime Minister left the crowd and led his team up to the House a UDP chant erupted. The Government Press Office must be commended for the excellent job they did in ensuring that those on the outside of the House received an equal opportunity to be a part of history as those on the inside. A huge monitor stood above the crowd for vision and speakers wired directly from inside the House provided the audio. Before the session started, members of the crowd were allowed to speak over microphones to the applause of their peers. The Garinagu drummers and dancers led the crowd in energy. As they danced to the beat of the drums, people of Creole, Mestizo and Mayan descent and even Hon. Anthony “Boots” Martnez joined in and showed off their Punta skills. Government could not have hoped for a more unified showing.

The crowd settled down when the session commenced. The House began to make its way through the Papers for the day and eventually took a break for the finance committee to meet. It was then that Prime Minister Barrow and senior members of Cabinet came out to update the crowd on the proceedings of the House. He said, “Ladies and gentlemen, we got bout maybe fifteen, twenty minutes more and then we move the second reading of the Ninth Amendment. All of us in your United Democratic Party are proud of you, grateful to you, we salute you and we thank you. Long live the United Democratic Party and long live our beloved Belize.” He then went back into the House.

When the Prime Minister rose to move the second reading of the Ninth Amendment Bill the crowd roared with applause. They tuned in attentively as he listed the changes made. A few people shouted, “Nothing need fi change.” Some said, “Deh gah nothing fi seh now.” A lot of unparliamentary words were thrown out when Said Musa got up to speak against the bill. The jeering he battled from the gallery was courteous compared to the charges made against him by thousands outside. When the Prime Minister closed the debate he did an excellent job in saying exactly what the crowd outside wanted to say. They fed off (or fed to) every word that PM Barrow spoke. The zappy rebuttal by the PM was fruit of a telepathic relationship between leader and people. Sections of the crowd cheered as their Representative each said “Aye” to the bill.

When the session was over, police allowed the crowd to go beyond the chain. The Garinagu drummers and dancers led the way. They greeted the UDP Parliamentarians with warm hugs. As the Prime Minister exited the House columns, supporters flocked towards him. He spent quite some time greeting supporters. Comments from supporters included mostly “thank you”. Many said, “This was the best thing that ever happened to Belize,” and “You are the best Prime Minister ever.” The drummers and dancers escorted the Prime Minister in a procession like ceremony all the way to his office.
Those people will never forget where they were on October 21st, 2011.