By G. Michael Reid
My grandmother had a saying that whenever I would complain to her about someone doing me wrong, she would say, “Dah you like suh!” In other words, if you didn’t like it, you would do something about it. There are usually two courses of action available to any person who believes that they are being wronged. The first is to remove themselves from the environment and the second is to do what is necessary to put a stop to the offensive action.
Belizeans have long been complaining about being wronged by politicians. Abuse of authority, corruption, wasteful spending of taxpayers’ money, nepotism, cronyism, interference in Police work and the list goes on and on. Unfortunately, in this case before us (the current government is not only accused but practically found guilty of all of the above, and then some), most Belizeans do not have both options available to them. Belize is our only home and we do not have the luxury of removing ourselves from this environment. There are those who do have green cards and the opportunity to travel but they choose instead to stay and make a life in Belize. That is their right for this is our home! We therefore are left with one choice and one choice only; we must do what is necessary to put a stop to this miscreance.
In 2008, the United Democratic Party was voted into office on a platform of accountability, transparency and good governance. How many remember the Prime Minister’s famous speech of “pulling a two-edged sword at the first whiff of corruption”? He also promised that if “it was a sweep-cleaner’s job it would have to go to the House for approval”. Belizeans had high hopes that things were going be done the right way. Unfortunately, those hopes have been totally dashed!
Dean Oliver Barrow became the first black-skinned Prime Minister who was supposed to once and for all, lift the people of Belize out of hopelessness and poverty. I say “black-skinned” because in reality that is where Dean Barrow’s blackness ends. Both Said Musa and George Price before him were in principle, more “black” than Dean Barrow has ever proven to be. Both Price and Musa had deep social convictions and both showed more concern and attention to the plight of the poor than Barrow ever has. Both former Prime Ministers were humble men who were always in touch with the people and would not be caught dead flashing Rolex watches, Armani suits or splashing by in high end luxury SUV’s. Mr. Price always drove his low end Land Rover, never traveled first class and lived among the people in humble surroundings. He would often stop to give the ordinary citizen a lift and could be seen walking around cleaning litter off the street. Mr. Musa, like Mr. Price before him, was approachable and both men made themselves readily accessible and available to the people. Contrast that with the opulent and high handed style of living that is now exhibited by this current Prime Minister.
Since assuming office, this Barrow administration has been oppressive and draconian in every aspect. Despite higher taxes and harsher laws however, crime has increased dramatically and murders are consistently above the hundred-mark per annum. Belize is currently listed as one of the most dangerous places on earth to live and gang warfare continues to rob our communities of its young. Incursions across our borders have increased and recently a member of our security forces was even shot and killed. Dean Barrow has been exposed as being all talk and his “pro-poor” propaganda has proven to be nothing but empty rhetoric. Under his watch, unemployment went from 9 percent to a whopping 25 percent and the poverty level which stood at about 12 percent in 2008 skyrocketed to an alarming 45 percent. Maybe we misunderstood; pro-poor meant the creation of more poverty!
The number of transgressions by this current administration has become almost too numerous to mention: the Penner situation, the Castro misappropriation, the Anwar Barrow coronation, the Noh Mul frustration, the Rosewood deforestation and even an accusation of murder-ation. When Belize, do we decide to climb out of this pot that keeps getting hotter and hotter?
This government has acted above the law, outside of the law and in direct violation of the law. The long promised Thirteenth Senator that was even written into the Constitution has still not been appointed despite persistent calls from citizen groups for its implementation. The Prime Minster has made it clear that he has no intention of making that appointment regardless of what the Constitution demands. The Integrity Commission, again provided for by the Constitution, has not existed for the entire life of this government. No member of this government has ever filed a declaration of assets yet we see ministers, their families and cronies accumulating vast amounts of wealth and properties. How long Belize, how long?
Recently, this Petro Caribe fiasco once again exposed the arrogance and total disregard of the law by this administration. Section 114 of the Constitution speaks directly to this issue yet recently, both the lower and the upper House voted in favor of this outright violation of the highest laws of our land. The government continues to spend this money with no accountability to anyone and recently, spent an additional two million to bus supporters to a rally in Belmopan in supposedly a show of support for their illegal actions. With Christmas approaching and municipal elections set for early next year, the government is once again preparing to dig deep into these funds to influence the upcoming elections. For sure, those who will benefit the most will be residents of Cayo North who in early January will go to the polls in a bi-election; or should we say a “buy” election.
On Wednesday last in a sitting of the Senate, a motion was put forth to demand accountability in the spending of these Petro Caribe monies. Belizeans again missed an opportunity to demand better as our representatives of both the Unions and the Churches refused to vote for this motion. How long Belize, how long?
In 2015, Belizeans will once again be given a choice of whether to change things or to leave them as they are. The Cayo North bi-election and thereafter the Municipal Elections will give Belizeans an opportunity to send a strong message to this government. Shall we demand better or do we really “like suh”? Make up your mind Belize and I pray that we send the right message. May GOD bless Belize!