Unrest in Belize

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Protesters outside the National Assembly

Friday, January 21, 2005

Unrest concerning the Belizian government's new taxes, which began on Jan. 20, 2005, continued as people burned government offices and union workers went on strike, closing ports and shutting down water services.

The unrest has been a reaction to the new budget for 2005-6, passed on January 13th, that introduced big tax raises. The largest individual rise was a new 100% sales tax on Rum. The unusual introduction of the new budget two months before the end of the financial year has been justified by the government as being required to increase funding for Education services. Opposition campaigners have claimed that the government is trying to unfairly collect two months of additional taxes.

During the afternoon, protesters campaigned outside the Belizian National Assembly, with rocks being thrown at riot police. Later, following the expiration of the protest permit, protesters and police exchanged cherry bombs and tear gas. The Belize Defense Force was called in to disperse the crowd, after which sporadic gunfire was heard until the crowd later dispersed.

This is only the third time that this kind of unrest has hit Belize. The first time was in the 50s, and the second time was during the 80s when there was a proposal drafted to give part of the country to Guatemala.Thursday, January 27, 2005

BELMOPAN, Belize – Teachers Strike Continues the teachers strike enters its 6 day and the water, power and phone unions vow to go on strike in support.Friday, January 28, 2005

BELMOPAN, Belize – The strike widens: postal workers, customs officers, immigration officers, even doctors (they will treat emergency cases) have joined the strike as the pressure mounts on the government to repeal recent tax hikes and to reform their ways.

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