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The Transport System Fiasco...

Mr. Menzies was instrumental in the small gains achieved by the Bus Operators, against the Transport Department, before many operators buckled under the presures of Political Victimization, and the Divide and Conquer Tactics used by the current Government.Read more...


8th Amendment to the Constitution (Proposed):

The proposed 8th Amendment to the Constitution promises to be an uphill fight. Mr. Menzies has



Demonstration At Administrative Building           Mr. Menzies worked tirelessly in May 2011 on the issue of disenfranchisement against owners and operators of the Bus Industry. This work continued on into June 2011, and he is still currently involved in some efforts to bring transparency and the Rule of Law to the issues. He was taken aback at the ease in which the Government of the Day has been able to manipulate the Bus Operators, by making many unfulfilled promises, and through the Use of Political Victimization and a Divide and Conquer technique.

           He has since taken on the issue of the 8th Amendment to the Constitution of Belize, which packs a powerful blow against Civil Liberties in Belize. The power of the change to the Constitution would be such that any opponent to the Government of the Day would be able to be Legally Detained for up to fifty-two (52) days, without ever having his/her day in court. Many in Belize claim that it would be the start of a Civil War, while Citizens of other countries (who reside in Belize and have for years) now claim that they will leave the country if said Amendment ever takes effect. He has held hearings in different areas of the country and has boarded many buses to share the information with commuters who for all intentional purposes have no idea of what is about to hit them. More than 98% of those surveyed, hadn't even heard of the Amendment, although the Constitution of Belize calls for a 90 time frame for notifying the Belizean people of any proposed change to the Constitution.



Compromise Blows Up In PM’s Face, Live At Press Conference
posted (May 27, 2011)

And so Shaw came out of that meeting around 11:30 upbeat and ready to find a way forward through compromise. That led the way into a 2:30 press conference hosted by the Prime Minister with Shaw at the head table, where the PM picked up right where the morning meeting left off:

Prime Minister Dean Barrow
"The willingness on part of Mr. Shaw and Mr. Frazer to try to resolve this thing resulted in our agreeing in principle to a compromise. In effect we would try to divide up the thing and ensure that as far as possible the BBOC will not lose any of their runs except to the extent that everybody perhaps would lose runs as there is an effort to compress the thing and make it all together viable and feasible. So by and large there would be this portioning of the BBOC's block of runs between the north and the west. "

So the plan as the PM outlined it was for Shaw and other stakeholders including government to meet on Monday to work out how this new balance would be arrived at.

The PM had already canvassed the northern association of busses for support for a carve out for the BBOC in the north and came back with the proposals you just heard.

He expected Shaw to second it when he spoke, but the Bus Association President had dramatically changed his tune from earlier in the day - and the PM's compromise proposals ended up blowing up in his face, in real time. Here's how that about turn from the Bus Association went:

Thomas Shaw, President BBOC

"Some of my operators are still in agreement with the arrangement that Mr. Frazer as the chairman of the BBOC actually stated that he will try to compromise. The position with the operators from the west - is that they wanted this operator - Chuc's Westline to be removed immediately and for them to be reinstated. The same way Westline was actually inserted in the West I would like to see the BBOC reinstated immediately because these guys have been operating for over 6 years and when you look at it they have been taken out overnight and given privilege to a guy that has or brought in 20-30 busses. As the president I think it's unfair and am not going to mince words but what i am saying is coming from my heart and as a operator myself I know exactly with the economic crisis - with fuel and all the rest of it I see what these guys are going through. It's been more than two weeks that these guys have been out there and not making a dime - they have their families and they have bills to pay and I am not here to negotiate because I have already sent out my message and if we have to go back to the table and negotiate for another week or so then where do that put the 60-100 families. I would like to see the Chuc's Westline be remove immediately and if anything le the Westline wait for its turn and have the BBOC reinstated as quick as tomorrow." (crowd clapping)

"I would like to see the BBOC reinstated immediately, after we leave this meeting say well 'BBOC, you are allowed to run tomorrow' and let the Westline wait for its turn."

Prime Minister Dean Barrow
"As an honorable gentleman will not deny that in that meeting tis morning there was no demand made by either you or Mr. Frazer that in fact there be an immediate reinstatement of the BBOC on the western run. Now perhaps as I said that produce some dissention in the ranks in terms of the membership of the BBOC and maybe even the larger membership of the BBA. While I will understand that Mr. Shaw - I hope you will also understand that we left that meeting with an agreement as to the way forward. And that is certainly how government means to proceed."

And complicating things even more was that the chairman of the Belize Bus Operators Association, Claude Frazer did not show up at the Prime Minister's press conference. Best information to us suggests that he was drummed out of the meeting with his own members when he suggested the compromise that he had agreed to in the morning meeting with the PM.

The members of the BBOC had a new personality represent them at the head table. He is firebrand Patrick Menzies who took things to another level completely when he dropped a deadline on the government. That's when the press conference took a turn from strange to surreal:…

Patrick Menzies
"In that meeting this morning I was not there like the PM said, I wasn't there, Mr. Frazer came out and we spoke about it. The operators agree unanimously that this is... well there is actually two options which I am going to share: number one: return to normal schedule tomorrow at 5am. You guys are crazy not negotiating - don't you have some time. Minister Hulse turns this thing upside down - he didn't negotiate - he promise a few days. Minister Hulse made a promise that he back out on, that's number one. Number two; all runs - 18 in the west and 6 up north be reinstated as it was before. Number three; immediate release of all busses and compensation for damage to those busses that were damage by the folks that move them. Number four; immediate release of all detainees and all charges drop. Now let me share with you - I can teach negotiation - I am a professor, so I know what negotiation is. I didn't come here to negotiate. The option is this that this occurs immediately - we give the ministerial coordinates here until 5 pm to decide if they want it or not. Not Monday but 5pm Today, these guys are still starving. That's one and the second option is until 5pm, so that two options. if not what started today will continue."(Crowd clapping)

Prime Minister Dean Barrow
"It is completely unreasonable and unacceptable to tell government you have until 5 o' clock to reinstate the BBOC on the western run. That is unacceptable; I am not going to in any way suggest that the government wants a confrontation. I am telling you that it is quite the opposite. The government does not want a confrontation, the inconvenience to the public, the economic damage that it will cause. These are thing at this particular juncture we dearly want to avoid, But Mr. Shaw and Mr. Menzies - I would hope that public opinion will see that in fact we are attempting to be reasonable and to be fair."

Patrick Jones
"How was there the necessity to insert westline in this whole mix because that seems to be the crooks of what is the problem here. Why was westline inserted in this whole thing?"

Prime Minister Dean Barrow
"I concede squarely that the fact of the identity of that operator has help to muddy the waters - that operator is Mr. Sergio Chuc who is in fact an official of the United Democratic Party...look man - I tell the truth and the entire truth and I do so all the time. Now that has complicated the situation, as Mr. Tun suggested - the field is open to new comers in the right circumstances and providing Mr. Chuc is legitimate - there is no reason why he should have been excluded from contemplation from consideration."

After that, the Prime Minister pleaded with the leaders of the BBOC and BBA to meet with official stakeholders to negotiate a new compromise - possibly as early as tomorrow.

After the press conference - we asked Shaw if he would go ahead with that - here's what he said:…

Jules Vasquez
"Sir, are you amiable to a meeting or are you of the Menzies position which is by 5 o' cock today or else?"

Thomas Shaw, President BBOC
"The Chairman of the BBOC isn't here at this moment."

Jules Vasquez
"Why isn't he not here? How could he miss this meeting? This is everything."

Thomas Shaw, President BBOC
"This is the situation right now that when we had the meeting at 10 o' clock this morning - I am representing these guys but yet you got to know what you actually want ok and his members are actually disgruntled and that's the reason why he is not here because he personally stated that he is willing for a compromise and due to that as the president I will not have nobody be blocking it because if you say something - I mean what the Prime Minister stated a while ago is that Mr. Frazer was willing for a compromise."

Jules Vasquez
"So what will happen?"

Thomas Shaw, President BBOC
"Well if I can get a whole of Mr. Frazer - the quickest way out because as I said we look at our commuters - if I can get a whole of Mr. Frazer more than likely I would say tomorrow."

Jose Sanchez
"Definitely a compromise is the way?"

Thomas Shaw, President BBOC
"Well up to this point in time this is where we stand, I don't really see us going back and blocking the roads because if you heard what the Prime Minister state - which in that's not actually our business - if we give someone a permit and you got to revoke it - then we don't want to hear how you are going to pay it back if you are going to have an injunction. But at this time as I said I need to speak to the Chairman because I cannot dictate for him. He is the one who told the Prime Minister he is willing for a compromise but his members isn't in agreement with him."

We'll have a little more from the press conference later on as the Prime Minister is asked about the performance of his Minister of Transport Melvin Hulse who - uncharacteristically - did not say a word throughout the nearly two hour long press conference this afternoon.


Bus Problems Won’t Go Away
posted (June 10, 2011)

Three weeks ago - everything seemed cool in the bus industry - as the Ministry of Transport had agreed to a three-week stay on the new northern bus runs. Of course, since then - everything has been decidedly not-cool - with major unrest and discontent unfolding in the transport industry.

And today as the 21 day deadline ended - the Belize Bus association held a press conference to say it is not happy, it's position and that of its membership have been misrepresented, and it's not going to go away quietly. President Shaw spoke first and then the secretary spoke second with a new list of demands:…

Thomas Shaw, President BBOC
"Today we are once again in this crisis. Once again on the brink of chaos and confusion. We have reach this point because once again the amateurs - the politicians have sort to fix what was not broken. To interfere where they have no business. To impose without consultation. To dictate in what should be a democracy. We are saying to the Prime Minister - some sit down and discuss the matter in good faith."

Jennine Hamilton, Secretary BBA

"The Prime Minister has stated that he will not re-visit the situation with the bus operators because an agreement has already been made and it is only one operator who is not satisfied but we ate here today to say that that is not so. Of the four operators being affected in the west - three are not satisfied meanwhile Westline continues to be accommodated. Yes an agreement was made, however it was made base on the lies and deception of either the Minister, the CEO, the Chairman of the Board and or all of the above. We believe that the Prime Minister have again been misled when he stated there is only one northern operator in our association namely Venus Bus Line - that is a lie. The BBA consists of ten registered northern operators - three of which are larger carriers on the highway. It seems to us that the Prime Minister is applauding the negligence of the Transport Minister and his officials by stating that he will not remove Westline from its current runs even though he knows that it is infringing on the livelihoods of many Belizean workers and their families. We therefore resolve to the following:"

1. All original schedules must return to that which existed before May 22, 2011.

2. Westline must be move to the 10pm - 4:30am slot east to west and 6pm - 2am west to east schedule. Since the Minister stated that he would like to provide a 24 hour service and those are the only runs that are available at this time.

3. All northern operators' original schedules must be immediately return and respected.

"Government has made very clear that they are not open to a re-negotiate. Can you set a standard in so to speak in terms of a direction - as we saw the roads being block and what happen up north, Can the Belizean public look forward to further direct action."

Thomas Shaw, President BBOC
"I can't speak for all my members but I can assure you as a person of transparency I will go back to my members and my members will decide where they go from there."

Jules Vasquez
"So what will happen next?"

Patrick Menzies
"What will happen next is that the Belizeans that stand up for justice and for what is right in the country will continue standing up and will even move the standing up to another level of standing up. In other words...."

Jules Vasquez
"Will they do so at your request? I am saying what will make them do so?"

Patrick Menzies
"When it occurs then you ask the question."

Jules Vasquez
"And if it fails to occur?"

Patrick Menzies
"Then I guess it won't occur. You will see."

Menzies has asked for citizens to show their support by flaying Belizean flags upside down. And while the rhetoric was strong, the showing was weak as only Chell's, D and E, Cabrera's and Mesh bus lines were present. Notably, BBOC was not present….


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