Belize News: Skerrit Detained, Humiliated by Belize Coast Guard
The online News site 7NewsBelize.com has reported that Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit was "humiliated" by the Belizean coast Guard while on a visit to that CARICOM country.
According to 7 News Belize, Skerrit came to Belize for the Independence Festivities as a guest of honour.
"He told us he got a personal invite of Prime Minister Dean Barrow", the News site said.
"On Saturday, after speaking graciously at the Independence Day Official Ceremonies, Skerrit was taken to San Pedro for a stay at Victoria House. In the afternoon, he was taken by boat to see the Hol Chan Marine Reserve and Shark Ray Alley, escorted by a representative of the Tourism Board, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, a police escort from Special Branch and his own security. The group was supposed to have been trailed by the Coast Guard for security purposes, which is standard for VIP's - but the coast Guard vessel didn't show up on time - so the trip went ahead without them.
"As it turned out, the Coast Guard vessel with four officers on board showed up when Skerrit and the delegation was heading back. They were almost back at Victoria House but the Coast Guard stopped the boat, and proceeded to detain and question them - detained by tying the Skerrit boat unto the Coast Guard Vessel so it couldn't move. The coast guard personnel were explicitly told by Skerrit's Belizean escorts that the Prime Minister of Dominica was on board. According to what we've heard, the Coast Guard Officer, one Ogaldez gave no acknowledgement of this - brusquely asking, "Who is the Prime Minister?" and when Skerrit answered, "I am", Ogaldez ignored him.
"That went on for a while - and didn't end until someone on the Skerrit boat called the Tourism Minister's secretary who got Ogaldez to stand down and let Skerrit and his contingent go on their way.
"No apology was made by the Coast Guard for the unexplained delay, We understand Skerrit retired to the hotel after the humiliating encounter and did not attend events that were planned for him later that evening.
"So what's the coast guard's side of it? Well, we tried to reach Commander John Borland today but he was unavailable. The best we could find out is that it was a mix up - and that the Coast Guard simply stopped the vessel from Ramon's to ask questions because they understood that the Prime Minister was in a Ramon's Dive Boat. Right here, you might say "duh", but it seems they weren't convinced that the man who identified himself as Skerrit was indeed the Prime Minister they were looking for.
"The Coast Guard is conducting an investigation which may be followed by disciplinary hearings," 7NewsBelize reported.