Audrey Matura-Shepherd – My Personal Views!
If I had any doubt that we would reach a new era when one’s own contrary view on this issue will someday have to kept quiet as is already happening in some parst of the world, I now have found it is the next step in this movement, based on my experience. I don’t think any right thinking Belizean has ever thought that when I write my weekly column I do so as a voice for Oceana in Belize which is affiliated to Oceana Inc. internationally, but today I find myself having to make that clarification because as my learned colleague Lisa Shoman asked on facebook, if my position “the position of the principals of Ocean?” Now, as I have replied to Ms. Shoman on Facebook, she of all people would know that Oceana is solely a marine advocacy NGO, which is clearly stated in its Articles and Memo and as such Oceana would never step out of their mandate… and it being an international organization would be far more liberal and worldly in its views and tolerance. But it seems that the suggestion is that I must never be involved in any discourse other than one directly related to Oceana. But she having been an international traveler and a diplomat would know even more than many of us, that in the liberal world, of which America is one part, these type of organizations would never even take a position on such issues, but at the same time would respect the rights of each individual to their own beliefs, hopefully, mine included.
Now it is clear to me that Ms. Shoman, who is friendly with at least one member of the Oceana board; who has met or spoken with others of the organization and has called on me on countless instances on a range of non-Oceana issues, would know the difference. Interestingly, she has called me to congratulate me on writing on may socio-political issues and to even tell me there are some she did not agree with… but not once did she ever said anything to indicate that she believed I wrote representing the views of the principals of Oceana…. hmmmm . I recall being very vocal against preventative detention and the Ninth Amendment to the point that I wrote some of the most blunt denunciations against these and she was all supportive of my views, because obviously it aligned with hers.
Constitutional issues is surely not part of Oceana’s mandate, and my taking out my personal time to do media appearances and public meetings countrywide on the recent Constitutional Amendments could never have been mistaken to be the work of Oceana. Ms. Shoman, like all reasonable people would know the distinction and realize that I have never given up my personal liberty to act as an outspoken citizen of this country. Why? For one, because before Oceana, I was already a very public person at the forefront of many issues, if not as a reporter, then as an opposition senator for the UDP and then as criminal prosecutor and Legal Aid Director. But I have called her out on it in facebook and she has replied. She may choose to reply to this too.. it’s her right, but on this matter I have nothing more than to set the record straight nationally for one of the luminaries of the legal profession, whom I expected to know better.