The Crazies Are Out-Belmopan Protests, Belcan this time

Reposted: 21st, August 2013

Menzies Marches, Stirm Stay Put

Dated: Augusted 20th, 2013
It’s been almost a month since we’ve heard from the marches organized by members of the Belize Evangelical Association of Churches. They’ve been leading what they’ve dubbed “Pro-Constitution Marches” all across the country to raise awareness on the Gender Policy, and the sections they want removed. The marches have been a joint effort between Belize Can’s Patrick Menzies, Belize Action’s Pastor Scott Stirm, and Plus TV’s Louis Wade to mobilize church leaders across the country to show just how much of the population share their sentiments. But today, Belize Can moved alone, with no support from Wade and Stirm, when he organized a march in Belmopan. 7News was there, and Daniel Ortiz found out why:
Daniel Ortiz reporting
At around 9:30 this morning, 100 members of the Spanish-speaking churches gathered to demonstrate in front of the House of Representatives.
It wasn’t the usual hundreds, and in some cases the thousands which usually mobilized for the 'Pro Constitutional Marches', but they showed their conviction all the same.
Standing up for about an hour, in the rain, umbrellas at the ready, the evangelists and their children prayed for the country, and for the withdrawal of the National Gender Policy.
And, as the downpour hammered them, instead of disheartening the members, it seemed only to bolster their spirits.
In fact, they ended up singing, 'Manda la Lluvia', meaning send the rain.
The man who organized the demonstration was Patrick Menzies, the President of Belize Can. He explained the small gathering, since it was expected that the March on Belmopan would mobilize all the members of the church from around the country, which they boasted over 8,000 participants in July.
Patrick Menzies - Organizer
"Belize Can has called the marches since the month of July and so the month of July was Constitution Awareness Month and so we had over 8,500 that marched across the country and we'd like to thank them for that. The people that are out here today are some of the same people that supported us before and the question may be - well where are the other ones? I know that was on the media last night - I was told that Pastor Scott and Pastor Louis Wade (I was told, I didn't see it) - they decided to not join this one. There's a lot of misunderstanding, I was in the US and I just came back, and so a lot of misunderstanding was circulated so some people were told that we're going to go to UB so that I can get the students to get their money that were ripped off; it has nothing to do with that. They were told that I was going to UB to get my job back - it has nothing to do with that. This is 100%to do with two basic things - the gender policy and victimization."
According to Menzies, he led the Spanish-speaking bloc because they refuse to compromise on the Gender Policy issue.
Patrick Menzies
"The church has decided, in the beginning the decision was right here in Belmopan - we asked the government to retract the policy. The PM decided 'I won't' - so then some of the leaders decided then 'modify' then the PM said 'I will look at it' - so we said ' we will submit to you the changes we would like to see' and the PM said 'okay I will look at those'. The Prime Minister never said 'I will sign off on everything you want' he wouldn't do that because that would be political suicide and in any way nobody would do something in that nature. No one knows what the PM will agree with and what he will reject - the problem is that while we are waiting for the PM to decide what he will and won't accept, during that time the policy is being implemented and if in 6 months to 18 months it's already entrenched and then it's decided that we already hired all these people and they have a five year contract - so we really can't change these things. So then the policy is in!"
And so, with that being the pillar of his argument, he decided to move forward with today’s march, despite the tough weather conditions.
Patrick Menzies
"We want a retraction of the policy - PM if you want to save face, don't retract, freeze it and fix it but don't implement any part of it and that's why we're here. We know, I have dealt with the Prime Minister (my respect to him) and everybody that has dealt with him knows that he's a very astute politician and so I respect that, that is his area of expertise and I respect that. But because I respect that and the Prime Minister did not say anything crazy - he said 'I will look at it' - we respect that he will look at it, we respect that he will make his decision but we also respect that we also can't tell the Prime Minister 'you have to accept these 99 changes."
He also discussed where he sees that the policy being put into place, by alleging that the University of Belize has started to put together a Gender Department. Here’s how he explained that:
Patrick Menzies
"Right now we're headed to UB - why? Because UB is the place that we're told from inside sources that they're creating a gender department. A few weeks ago they passed out copies of the policy to the staff members - we are marching to UB to say no to the gender department at UB, our young people do not deserve to have one class added to them to keep on ripping them off and then add another class - a gender class, that's not necessary."
Pastor Scott Stirm, one of the vocal members of the Evangelical Association of Churches, told us today that they didn’t support Menzies on this demonstration because they felt that it would be counterproductive to the ongoing negotiations with the Prime Minister to amend the gender policy. Menzies told that he doesn’t accept that interpretation.
Daniel Ortiz
"Do you accept that because you have taken this position, it seems that if though the efforts you've made so far have been weakened and splintered?"
Patrick Menzies
"No, I will not accept that, let me tell you why. The problem is that you guys were not in our meetings, this thing started out by telling the PM to retract, he said 'I won't retract', well then modify - that's not the way you negotiate. I have no doubt that the marches done have affected the UNIBAM case and are affecting this exact thing right now. What we are saying is if we are going to sit back and say 'let's wait' and if it takes 18 months for the attorneys to look at it because they are busy - how will we tell them they're taking too long? We can't tell them what to do - so what we're saying is this, freeze and fix."
And after he spoke to the media,
Menzies led the demonstrators through Belmopan to the UB Campus.
A late evening statement from Pastor Scott Stirm says, quote,
"The Constitution Marches were brilliant & we appreciate Patrick Menzies’ zeal.”
Zeal but no support – and to answer that the Stirm statement adds:

“In consulting with leaders all over the nation, there was not a resounding AMEN on Menzies’ UB demonstration. Nothing personal, just different theme & no AMEN." End Quote.

Menzies Looking For A Fight With UB

As you heard in our interview with Menzies, he intended to protest against UB for this alleged Gender Department which is supposedly being established at the national University. That was the second part of his demonstration, and which goes hand in hand with his anti-victimization campaign. Viewers may remember that Menzies also insists that UB terminated him without just cause. We followed him to UB, where he staged a mini sermon at the front gate of the campus. Daniel Ortiz challenged him on his latest allegation against the University, and on his victimization issues. Here’s how that went:…
Daniel Ortiz reporting
About 45 minutes after Patrick Menzies and members of the Spanish Speaking Churches left Independence Hill, they arrived in front of the UB Campus.
Fresh from their march through the rain, the crowd gathered to listen to his stinging remarks aimed at the University on loudspeaker.
Patrick Menzies - Belize Can (on loud Speaker)
"You have some University Professors that are lying to you, they are talking to you about separating of church and state - tell them this is not America! We don't believe in Obama, our truth is not in the White House."
Menzies insists that the University is in the process of instituting a Gender Department which would use the controversial Gender Policy. The University’s Director of the Office of Public Information told us that Menzies is very mistaken:

Selywn King - Office of Public Information, UB
"I am not aware of any establishment of any gender policy department, I don't know where or what he has done but in terms of any gender policy document circulating to our members of staff - Have you read the gender policy document? If he has read it then it means he should protest against himself because I think anybody is at liberty to read the gender policy document, I read it on the internet. I haven't received any on my desk so I don't know what Mr. Menzies is referring to, but there hasn't ever been a gender department at UB. We have been looking at the whole issue at gender when we had a director of research in terms of dropout rates among young males, once you've passed high school into the tertiary system. So the whole issue has been floating around in terms of the dropout rates among young males but we have never established any gender policy department but we have never even had the policy circulated among faculty of staff either - so I don't know where Mr. Menzies is getting his information from."
Daniel Ortiz
"Would UB be in any discussion about gender as an equality issue here at the University?"
Selywn King
"Well I have not been briefed so I really can't make any comment, interesting question but I can't comment. Once I have been briefed then I can answer your question."
Patrick Menzies - Belize Can
"I respond to the refusal of my claims with Thank You Jesus - that's all I will respond. Let me share this with you - you see just as the government back pedal and if you download a copy of the gender policy there's no such thing as legalize prostitution, page31 and there's no such thing on page 10 where you find that your religious and cultural rights are subject to the rights of equality which means - of gays. It's not there because they quickly back pedaled and took it out so if they changed their minds and decided to change - that's fine - we have inside sources here at UB and dealing with the lady that is in charge telling us what was going on. According to the actual gender policy, it states that they will be teaching this at every level of the education system. This is our highest seat of education for our nation so therefore even if they're not going to do that - thank God - I'm telling them to not even try to think about it."
With his central allegation dismissed as baseless, we asked Menzies to tell us more about his organization, for which he is the only member who’s stepped forward.
He told us that he would not release names of members of Belize Can, because while he doesn’t fear victimization, his organization’s membership is not as durable.
Patrick Menzies
"I like the question and because of what we do, I will never and I will not answer that. I can tell you that there are people that are in this government, senior folks that support us. We have people inside the government, we have these people here - everyone that's out here - all those pastors are a part of the alliance of leaders and ministers, they are a part of us. So I will not release a list, you see Belizeans aren't stupid, you yourself, everybody out here knows that people have been victimized. I will not release a list of members, I am not ludicrous, I don't smoke oregano - I know what's going on. We are here because we know what's going - we are saying no more victimization, we're not going to take it. So I don't care what anybody else says, counterproductive? Let me tell you this, Scott Stirm, Belize Action nor the Evangelical Association never called a march - every march in Belize was called by Belize Can and these pastors. The one in Toledo, all respect to Pastor Vic that said that they would do it themselves and they did in Toledo and we worked with the guys also in Dangriga. You guys interviewed Scott Stirm at every one of our rallies and none of you spoke with me - I'm fine with that - did I go around and asked you to please talk to me? I never did, it's fine - it's not about me, it's about these pastors that have been left behind that whenever they make decisions, they don't count the Spanish pastors. They are pastors, they are leaders, they have members and they have voters - they count. The day that the Spanish folks are being left behind - is over. We are going to be translating left, right and center things that are affecting them so when they want to play their games they won't play games anymore with the Spanish speaking community."
The Belize Evangelical Association of Churches is in the process of finishing up their proposal to Prime Minister Dean Barrow on what areas of the National Gender Policy they would like to see changed. 


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