Tuesday, December 9, 2008

International Anti-Corruption Day

Okay people, the UN finally gave us one day that openly addresses the situation our country faces on all 365 of them. That day is today, December 9th 2008, it’s called International Anti-Corruption Day, and the intention is to raise public awareness of corruption and what people can do to fight it.

Now the good news is that in terms of the UN’s public awareness goals, we in Belize can proudly say that we’re halfway there. Yep, we are making progress. UN boys, you can go back and tell your bosses that the public in Belize is fully aware of corruption. Of course, now that we know about it, what do we do with it?

Let’s see, while I'm aware of it in general terms, I still have a few questions, just to get a feel for the possibilities/limits re corruption:

Do two wrongs make a right? If I forcibly rip an illegal red license plate off a ministerial (i.e. government-owned) vehicle, is that then a legal act?  Because those stupid things are driving me crazy, and I may yet do that!

If I’m found driving my boss’ government car with contraband liquor in the trunk, is it appropriate for him to suspend me, or is it more ethical for him just to fire me? Keep in mind, if he fires me, I might know something, yuh knoa? Me breaking the law, that’s secondary to other considerations, right?

If I divert money intended for another project to pay for a project that I never should have guaranteed in the first place, a project I supported against the gale force winds of public fury, is that naughty of me? I mean, we’re only talking about, say, maybe $20 million or so, and I didn’t pocket a penny from that particular transaction, so how could that be wrong?

If the stink of corruption is heavy upon some of my political donors, it’s still okay for me to take their money and reward them with choice appointments, right? I mean, I can’t control their corruption so it’s nothing to do with me...right?

Okay, now I know the answer to this one, so I’ll just list it, it’s not actually a question: as a government minister, it is perfectly acceptable for me to get involved in real estate or contract or tender awards, using my power to influence transactions. If the buyer is so happy that he gifts me with a suitcase full of cash, how could that possibly be wrong?

Similarly, it cannot possibly be wrong for me to allow the importation of products that are, um, restricted from importation. The fact that a supporter or even family member might benefit from this selectively lifted restriction is purely coincidence.

Finally, and only 'cause I'm tired and it's late and I'm sleepy, I'll throw in this last, easy one.  If the city suffers and is strewn with garbage because the cleaners don't get paid regularly; if potholes aren't getting fixed at any visible rate of speed; if major commercial downtown streets are inaccessible to traffic for ridiculous lengths of time; if said streets remain unhealthily dusty, are ridiculously designed despite all complaints made beforehand, and don't seem to be getting fixed any year soon...isn't this a good time for the City Council to bring up the word 'raise?'

Yeah, I thought so.

Can you think of other examples where politicians’ moral compasses have clearly lost true north? If you can, and I bet you already have, add your thoughts using the comment feature below.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Giving Thanks for...Thanksgiving?

I have, for years, managed to hold my temper when I see hotels and restaurants advertising Thanksgiving lunch. Hey, we’re a tourism-based economy; it makes sense to make our guests feel welcome, right? I’m cool with that idea. But I draw the line at a store using a holiday that has nothing to do with us (hell, we don’t even get the day off) to sell tennis shoes. I’m not gonna say which store, but its name puts me in mind of desert-based hallucinations.

Okay, I thought, this store’s owner doesn’t understand what this holiday means; maybe I should explain. So here goes:

Back in 1621 in England, there were some people who couldn’t tolerate people around them having fun. The idea of folks going out late to the clubs, listening to loud minstrel music, and speeding all over town on their horses, drunk on mead and wine and whatever, was simply unacceptable. These people were called Puritans, but for better understanding you might think of them as Jehovah’s Witnesses.

So one day, a bunch of these Puritan guys were sitting around drinking water and grumbling about how teenagers today dress, with all the colorful clothes and ruffs, shiny swords and such, and after they’d said their seventeenth prayers of the day, one of them had an idea. He turned around to the others and said something like “if we moveth to the New World, our lives shall be drab and dreary as God willeth and we shall never haveth fun again. We shall planteth and prayeth and foundeth a great nation where people eateth turkey in our name but once a year, and our great nation shall prosper until evil greed and a silly President and a woman named Palin shall bringeth it to its knees.”

All talked it through and unanimously agreed that this was an excellent idea; several of the men thought secretly that the Palin woman was one hot chick, which made it even better. With that they got together a bunch of people who had just come in from selling Watchtower parchments and set out to find a ship. They finally found the Mayflower (named after the trees that blossom in March/April) and hitched a ride since it was going to Virginia. Unfortunately, the captain’s GPS malfunctioned en route and they landed at Plymouth Rock instead. There they met the Wampanoag Indians who asked to be called Native Americans and made them welcome. As part of the welcome ritual, they gave the Indians beads and the Indians gave them land which they would later return to the Indians for a casino development.

Now, there’s a lot more to this history, but suffice it to say that at some point the Puritan pilgrims were so happy to be able to be as miserable as they had always wanted that they had a great feast involving turkey and Sara Lee pumpkin pie, and sat with the Indians to watch a football game afterwards –the Redskins played the Chiefs that year.

And that was how Thanksgiving began. Now folks, at no point did the Mayflower make a refueling stop in Belize, and I want to stress that our local Puritans get really grumpy when we celebrate anything. The only folks that did get thrown out of somewhere else and end up docking here were in fact deported from their port of embarkation because they knew how to dance the punta and made all the backras look really bad when they couldn’t move their hips like that. If they hadn’t arrived when they did, we wouldn’t have Watina and fish sere and a few other things the Puritans probably wouldn't like.

So in the future, can we please reserve our celebrations for holidays that are about fun people? Because I don’t know about you, but I’m not as thankful as you might think to be offered a magazine by somebody ringing my bell on a Sunday morning and wanting to talk about the bible while I’m nursing my goma –my feet are still sore from dancing too much punta.

In short, Happy…Thursday!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Positiveness, Jules, Positiveness!

On 15th October, the Prime Minister summarized the Mayor’s receipt of an excess $90,000 in salary, stipend, or whateveryacallit, as a ‘miscommunication’ or ‘misunderstanding.’ If you did this in the private sector, your employer would zoom past those ‘mis’es, continue past ‘misappropriation’ and land on ‘embezzlement’ or ‘theft.’ Or, maybe he’d overlook the ‘mis’take if he thought you brought him several thousand customers in return, true? Guilt and results are inversely related, apparently. So, given that in the World of Politics, the only results that matter are how many convention votes she (ahem) commissioned, Her Lordship’s not guilty –it’s just reimbursement of expenses.

These days, the public sector is the center of our own Bizarro World, where beggars are choosers, losers win, and immorality is the new morality. Only under such rules can I believe that Mayor Z deserves this lee bonus the PM granted her. But given the number of personnel now on suspension from City Hall, she might be the only critter left minding the shop, except for the cleaning lady and a coupla Charlie Prices. Okay, let’s give her a raise! Summarizing the rest of a Mayor’s daily concerns:

Potholes? Trivial.

Garbage-strewn, dust-laden streets? Insignificant.

Overgrown rat-infested empty lots? Irrelevant!

Unpaid taxes we’re too lazy to collect? Wayne, say something! Do that whining voodoo that you do so well!

An invitation to fly halfway around the world? Come, Dalla Moya, pack your bags and carry mine, we fly Fus’ Class, yuh knoa?

Well, the lady disappeared for a bit (see Missing: One Belize City Mayor), but she’s back with a giggling vengeance (and wanting that raise) while many lesser folk are in trouble over ‘alleged fabrications’ (Mrs Perriot sure is erudite) of much smaller dalla values than $90,000 –but we finally get to say ‘misappropriation.’ Hardly seems fair, true? Here in Bizarro World, villainy is worshipped in exact proportion to the profit it returns.

Being taken for a fool is irritating, even more irritating than standing in line behind a guy who won’t stop picking his nose. Can you see it? Our politicians as belittling nosepickers? But if we, the people standing watching them dig for gold, remain polite and silent in our disgust, how can we expect them to stop?

So Jules, make sure the only colours you see are black and white –of the right or wrong kind. Whether someone is red or blue, Moya or Musa, Vega or Briceno, Fonseca or Zaldivar, it doesn’t matter. Once they injure our country, morally or fiscally, aim your cameras at them. That’s positiveness, Jules!

And Z, shrilling on about $20 million doesn’t make your $90,000 right; it just means you haven’t reached that level. Oh, and look up "red herring."  Get a mature grip on your own tattered reputation. Right now, your ego can’t fit in the whole three stories of the mansion you chose to build outside the limits of the battered city you ‘mis’represent, but your integrity couldn’t furnish a single room.

Keep gigglin’ Z, we’re watching.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Foreign Affairs Doggy-Style

Press Release
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Belmopan, Belize

12th November, 2008. Today the Government of Belize, in the interest of continued good relations between the United States government and our own, contacted the U.S. President Elect’s Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel, to make a diplomatic offer, based on needs expressed by U.S. President Elect Barack Obama in his victory speech. The United States has often, throughout our history, been a benefactor in our time of need, and despite the incoming Obama government being a blue one, Belize is pleased to now be in a position to reciprocate.

In his victory speech of 4th November, President Elect Obama promised his daughters “you have earned the puppy that is coming with us.” He later explained to the press that his daughters have allergies and that perhaps a shelter dog could be “a mutt like [him]” and therefore perhaps not the best choice as it would likely not be hypoallergenic.

We believe, and have advised, that we can solve this problem. Therefore, we have offered the Obamas a puppy of our National Breed, colloquially known as the ‘pot-licka.’ As all Belizeans know, the pot-licka, or Belizean Shepherd as it is more properly known, is a dog that requires little or no maintenance. This breed is short-haired and therefore hypoallergenic, has minimal dietary requirements –Presidential chicken bones will do nicely— and certainly qualifies as a ‘mutt.’ The animal would also be a symbol of the new President’s biracial heritage since it will be white and brown, or black and white, or black, brown and white, or….

It is the Government of Belize’s firm belief that this dog is both more attractive and more practical than the current Peruvian offer of a Peruvian Hairless Dog, since the pot-licka can more easily be replaced if run over by the Presidential police escort while attempting to chase the Presidential limousine. Further, owning a Belizean pot-licka will allow President Obama to identify more closely with a large segment of the BelAm population, especially since many of them live in his resident state of Illinois, at least until the authorities find them.

The chosen dog will be issued official Belizean Kennel Club (BKC) papers with the show name ‘Xunantunich,’ though the First Daughters may prefer to call it by the more traditional names of Brownie, or Rusty, or 'Ey-You. Those of you who may worry about the pup's ability to travel are reassured that the remaining BAHA employees as loyal UDP supporters will issue all required certification with no problem. Should President Elect Obama accept our offer, the public is hereby advised that authorities will be rounding up all the pot-lickas in the National Pot-Licka Reserve (a.k.a. Belize City) and taking photos to allow the Obama daughters to make their choice. The public is advised to carefully observe garbage dumps and other areas where wild pot-lickas are known to gather, with a view to finding the best specimen to represent our country.

The public is thanked for its cooperation in this critical diplomatic matter.


Lou N. Wrasse
Public Relations Officer

Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Emperors' New Memories -Will the Novelos Keep Their Shirts on?

This weekend’s newspapers report that BDF private Felis Sho was arrested on 31st October for stealing underwear. It seems that Sho’s crime was committed out of sympathy for Tony Novelo. Apparently, earlier that day, Sho heard about Novelo’s statement, later reported on Channel 7, that “I have lost everything...the banks have taken everything...I’m lucky I have this shirt on my back.” Sho has not yet explained why he thought ladies’ underwear would be the helpful thing, and sources nowhere close to the Novelos have suggested  that people ought not to worry, as the brothers intend to sue the shoes, pants and undies off the receiver.

Unfortunately, even if he wanted to, Tony Novelo would not be able to assist the misguided Sho, who must provide bail of $2,500 plus two sureties and appear back in court in December. Novelo has claimed that his meager salary is spoken for; that the vehicle he drives belongs to the company that employs him. Apparently even the Rolex he wears is only on loan from his employer to ‘make sure he gets to work on time.’

In barely related news, this week’s victory by Barack Obama was greeted by a great deal of cheering from many local Obama supporters. However, a few McCain supporters expressed their disappointment, suggesting that in large part the U.S. electorate was ‘ageist’ in their thinking. One supporter said “the fact that he couldn’t remember how many homes he owns doesn’t mean he’s senile, people don’t always keep track of these minor details.”

In support of her argument the young lady pointed to a copy of this week’s Reporter newspaper where Antonio Novelo couldn’t ‘recall’ if he owned 12,313 acres of land near the Mopan River in San Jose, Cayo district. ‘When Chebat asked him specifically about [the land], Novelo replied: “I will have to research that, as I cannot recall if I own that land.”’ In the Amandala, ‘Tony also claimed he could not recall owning any shares. According to him, before the receivership there were over 25 companies, including BeliTour, Novelo’s Limited, Novelo’s Bus Line, Western Transport, Northern Transport and Southern Transport, and he doesn’t know if he still has shares in any of them. Tony also couldn’t remember if he is a director of any of those companies.

Those present observed that because of his age no one claims that Novelo is senile even though he can't recall anything much. Both Tony and David, they said, are proof that bad memory can occur at any age and for reasons other than dementia and further, that Americans had judged McCain harshly and unfairly. “Although,” one guy added, “this also proves that the Novelo boys didn’t spend any significant portion of their $30 million loan on ginkgo biloba.” Maybe they should have; keeping the lies straight requires pristine powers of recall.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Missing: One Belize City Mayor

Ten possibilities where she might be:
  1. Fell into a pothole and awaiting rescue;
  2. Drawing up plans for a new floor for her house –in case flood reaches the first three;
  3. In New Zealand checking what they do when the streets wash away;
  4. Got attacked by a renegade garbage pile;
  5. Making change for a Dalla;
  6. Resting her voice after all the pre-convention interviews;
  7. Looking between her sofa cushions for $90K;
  8. Writing her memoir “Fishy Cooperatives -How to Become the, Yuh Know, Mayor;”
  9. Having her hair done in case Jules drops by;
  10. Looking for parking on Albert Street.
If you know where she is, please ask her to report to the nearest media house (she should have the numbers) as her citizens are deeply concerned about her whereabouts.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Realizing Pothole Possibilities

I must congratulate those who've made our fair city what she is today. I refer of course, to Belize City, which has never before looked the way it does now –well, not since the streets were first paved, anyway. I congratulate our municipal leaders, because in its current condition, this city presents tremendous opportunities.

“But the streets,” you cry. “The streets are a complete mess!”

Okay, yes, I’ll concede that the streets are a mess. But seriously, we’ve had massive flooding in the districts, and obviously these floods have destroyed our city streets –personally, I blame the Cayo flood. And anyway, while you’re so focused on the potholes, you’re forgetting that we have two and a half new roundabouts to celebrate about. Be honest, when you’re trying to negotiate those roundabouts, heart in throat, trying not to get broadsided by a taxi driver, you forget all about the potholes, right? Thought so.

Personally, I think The Hans and Nandini Bhojwani Foundation, whatever that is, deserves our profound gratitude for making us forget our lesser problems as we negotiate their obstacle course. I for one would like the Foundation’s address so that I may personally share my feelings on the matter. I'm also depressed when I realize that traffic authorities in New Zealand will never know how much their inspiration affected our stress levels.

However, I digress from the main point of this article. I had started by saying that the current state of the city presents tremendous opportunities. No, you short-sighted today-thinkers, I’m not talking about road contracts to friendly contractors; that’s way too short-term and much too obvious. I’m talking about far deeper (if you’ll pardon my pun) options for commercial gain.

You see, the other day, my car fell into a pothole. I had a lot of time to think while I waited to be rescued. It was, after all, still daytime and the pothole was so deep that no one could hear the car horn or my calls for help. Thank heaven that when it got dark I was able to turn on the car’s lights, and a passerby saw the glow and called for rescue.

While I sat on the edge waiting for the crane to haul out the tow truck that fell in while trying to pull out my car, I made a few notes recording my epiphany. I hope that someone will forward these ideas to Her Lordship so that she can use them to raise a bit more revenue for the city:
  1. Use the city streets for vehicle testing. I think that major auto companies worldwide can send their SUV prototypes here for road tests. If no more than five or ten pieces fall off a vehicle during a vigorous drive through the city (which must include a drive at moderate speed down Albert and up Regent Streets), and as long as one of those pieces isn't the engine, the auto company can assume that their prototype can go into production and be marketed as rugged enough for any environment.
  2. Ditto for the tire manufacturers. The standards here would be a bit different, of course. I’d suggest that if only one tire blows out during a drive down those same streets, that’d be success in my book. However, it’ll be up to the engineers to decide if that’s a high enough success measure.
  3. Consider the possibilities for oil exploration. I haven’t had a chance to research it, but I don’t recall hearing that the government sold exploration rights for Belize City. Now I don’t know that there’s any indication that oil deposits lie below the city, but it occurs to me that some potholes are sufficiently deep that less drilling would be required. So while there mightn’t be any oil, the bean counters should appreciate that exploration costs would certainly be considerably less than drilling inland, even if that’s where the oil actually is.
  4. Many major cities worldwide contract with large studios to film movies on location in their city. Belize City has been one of these locations in the past, but no one has tried to attract one of these studios to Belize in quite some time. I think it’s time to revisit this income opportunity, and I’m sure that we can jumpstart the whole thing if we can find and attract a studio planning to film a remake of Journey to the Center of the Earth.
Now that you’ve read this through, and your brain is spinning with the possibilities, I’m sure you too have your ideas. Feel free to submit them, either by clicking ‘comment’ at the end of this article if you’re reading it online, or if you’re reading this by e-mail, send that comment in to belizebeliever@gmail.com. The most creative submission gets to name a pothole of their choice, courtesy of the Belize City Council.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

...The Harder We Fall

Well, the 2008 Corruption Perception Index is out, and the big news is…we dropped again! In just three years, our fall from grace has taken us from 66 to 99 to 109 in the number rankings. The optimists amongst us would point out that whereas we slid 33 points in 2007, at least we only slid 10 points this year. Well hurray for us then, Mr Optimist. I’d go for a drink to celebrate, but my celebratory liquor budget is pretty tight, and besides, I’m a little nervous that if I go out I might get jacked.

Clearly, Belize’s image out there could use a generous coating of the strongest deodorant. It really isn’t fair to blame Transparency International or the other star of the September Celebrations, Ross Kemp, for this. If your neighbor comes over to visit and then tells everyone about your filthy house, the worst you can say about her is that she’s a gossip, right? So what do we do about all this gossip? How do we clean our house so that our rankings climb back up the scale for next year?

I’d start by suggesting that this government set the pace for shutting down the negative buzz by aggressively taking matters in hand. Our current leaders should loudly and visibly shut down cronyism and arrest anyone attempting to offer bribes. Start by setting a few examples and everybody else will fall into line in a hurry. Insist that audits be carried out in a timely manner for both Central Government and the municipal authorities, and act on any irregularities that these audits uncover. ACB issued a release insisting on the municipal audits –I look forward to the results, as well as the results of the results, you get what I’m saying?

Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition could even make this into a bipartisan effort by endorsing whatever actions GOB takes, and let me push things here by using this phrase: “in a mature fashion.” The kind of things I’d love to see the Opposition support include the arrest of anyone trying to bribe a government official, including police officers. Everybody’d have to support the arrest of those accepting the bribes too, or else it just wouldn’t be fair.

Just check out the top five countries on the CPI. The thing I think they have in common is that they attempt to give their citizens a lifestyle that neither forces nor persuades them into corruption, backed up by a set of laws that really motivate people to stay on the straight and narrow path. And between you and me, I don’t think a Singapore prison is nearly as nice as Kolbe. We should learn from this.

Maybe it’d be easier just to bribe Transparency International.

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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

A Solution to Our Crime Problem

Tonight the country of Belize was treated to an episode of Ross Kemp on Gangs filmed mainly in Belize City. Objectively speaking, the show was a mixture of truth and self-serving exaggeration, with a colorful overlay of sensationalistic crap. This is to be expected, but let’s not lose the main point, which is the fact that we really do have a gang problem. We also have a weapons problem, an explosives problem, a drug problem, a crime problem, and a full assortment of sexual problems. Of late, you can even add the problem of constantly disappearing intransit ‘pharmaceuticals’ to this ever-growing list.

Fear not however, this evening’s news reminded us that the authorities are vigorously attacking the [insert name here] situation. They have pulled together all the necessary resources, asserted themselves and…held a press conference! Yes, that’s right, the new head-on method for attacking these problems is to have press conferences wherein senior law enforcement officials explain what they are doing and, uh, why they can’t quite reach that elusive goal of solving The Problem of the Day.

Let’s be fair though, the authorities can't solve all these problems by themselves, can they? If they could, then the problems would hardly be worth the price of Ross Kemp’s plane ticket. These problems won’t be solved until we can all pull together as a community and put up a unified front against crime. Bringing us together will, I realize, require truly strong, moral and upstanding leadership.

We need the kind of credible, trustworthy, nonpolitical leadership we’ve been conditioned to expect from our church leaders. That's why I’m proud to see the Council of Churches speaking up. They even issued a press release recently. In this release, they decried, in the strongest possible terms, the government’s plan to...have the Independence Day parade on, of all days, Independence Day! Yes, this sort of infringement on our collective morals had to be roundly condemned lest it damn our souls for all eternity.

Now, I’m sure that having achieved victory in this major and potentially catastrophic issue, our newly emboldened church leaders will be able to move quickly past it in order to focus on the lesser issues of murder, robbery and general mayhem ensuing in our streets.

I look forward to their press conference.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Requiem for a Bygone Era

On Saturday 6th September, Carnival Day, Belize was forced to bid farewell to the peaceful stage of her development. Whereas before we were treated to occasional scenes of gratuitous violence in between updates of Zenaida's latest hijinks, and whereas we have heard of grenades on the street before, this was an entirely new level of horror.

The fact that someone thought it a good idea to toss a grenade into crowds of parents and children gathered to watch a parade speaks to the kind of monster our culture has unknowingly nurtured. And sadly, our forces are ill-equipped to deal with this new order of battle. After all, we did not realize these possibilities, did we?

Before Carnival Day and what might have been, we still retained a small portion of the innocence we once had in abundance. We still had a little faith left. But to hear our leaders and security forces speak of doing bomb sweeps prior to an event, to hear them mention what will have to be done for parade security, leaves a sadness, a kind of weariness, as we mourn for what did die on Saturday.

We all used to be able to brag about how safe Belize was, how our leaders could travel without bodyguards, how we didn't have the problems of other nations. Well, now we do.

So what next?

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Salute to the 210th Tenth

Four days from today we’ll be celebrating the 210th Anniversary of the Battle of St George’s Caye. I’ll be celebrating it even if you aren’t, because to me it’s not a red or a blue holiday; it’s not a black or white holiday. In my humble opinion, labeling it as some sort of tacit endorsement of colonialism and slavery is narrow-minded in the extreme.

To deny that the battle happened because those who fought didn’t meet certain criteria and because you hate the British who are long gone is, in a word, pathetic. Somebody said in the papers the other day that it’s bogus because it was a white man’s fight. I’d like to personally call that writer a racist, brain-damaged idiot. The proper way to look at it is thus, if nothing happened then, would we be speaking English now? For sure there would be no Guatemalan dispute because we’d already have Guatemalan passports. Before you decide that’s a good idea, let me point out that generally speaking the Latinos don’t have the best record for liking us ‘people of colour.’

A few more than two hundred and ten years ago (I’m ashamed to admit I don’t remember exactly when) a public meeting was held where those present discussed and voted on whether to remain in this settlement and fight to keep it or abandon it to the Spaniards. The vote to stay was the winner because of some black folk named Flowers who came in to Belize Town from Flowers Bank for the meeting and voted to stay –their vote put it over the top. I hope that Flowers’ descendants of today are aware and proud of their ancestors’ active role in Belizean history.

As a direct result of that vote, when the Spaniards anchored their ships off our shores a year or two later we were ready, and we repelled them. There is no shame in having had a British warship there to help, just as there is no shame in the notion that there was no wholesale slaughter of our people. The former was their duty and the latter should be our pride. The British warship did not and could not repel the Spaniards on its own, nor does the fact that the two opponents did not line off against each other across a battlefield, point muskets and shoot at each other mean that nothing happened.

The thing is, you have people here who are traitors to Belize even as they wrap themselves in our flag. They don’t want us to have pride in our heritage because that would make us proud and strong. National pride gives us self-pride, a sense of identity, and that’s dangerous to people who want to enslave our minds and keep us down. So next time you hear someone sounding off like that brain-damaged racist, please point out to him/her that they are sounding off in English, which seems to underscore the silliness of their denial. They should be ashamed to call themselves Belizeans.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Mark of Z

I have to hand it to Z, she really has made people pay attention. Never has municipal politics been so interesting, not even when the last mayor was accused of bouncing checks, etc. Here we have a sitting mayor accused of malfeasance, misappropriation of funds and other juicy things, like awarding contracts to family and friends. The remarkable thing about all these revelations is that nobody really looks good at the end of it all, not even her accusers. I think all that this feuding has done is to underscore the mediocrity of today’s Belizean politician.

Now, we haven’t heard all of it, I’m sure, not by a long shot. But so far what we have is a mediocre City Councillor making accusations, some of which have now been backed up ‘anonymously,’ while some have yet to be proven. On the other side, we have a globe-trotting Mayor, supported by her globe-trotting D.J. consort, claiming innocence and hurt feelings…and denigrating that Councilor’s psychological condition as her defense. Crazy or not, who cares? This is truly delicious fodder for us newshounds.

Now, questions I have for the media would include: who pays for her trips, does she travel coach or business class, does Dalla really go with her on every trip, is every trip absolutely necessary? Obviously the New Zealand one paid for itself because it inspired her to build roundabouts all over the city, thereby causing hitherto unheard-of traffic jams. In the end, I’m not sure what other accomplishments she can claim, but certainly we who drive past those roundabouts every day will forever remember her.

The opposition should be thoroughly embarrassed that they cannot yet produce a single worthwhile candidate to run against Z and her cronies. The ruling party should also be embarrassed about the fact that almost none of their candidates are outstanding citizens, and that in fact some of them are, to put it kindly, total opportunists.

Time to wake up, people! As our leadership goes, so do we. Therefore, Z, her cronies and her opponents are all reflections of what Belize has become. We turn the tide only if we demand better.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Time For A Hangin'

Greg Casildo was an animal. Oops, that was offensive and I apologize to all furry, four-legged creatures out there. Anyway, I have nothing nice to say about Casildo and think that the police need make no apologies for doing their jobs this one time. They exchanged gunfire with a dangerous criminal who has brutally and casually taken lives, and yes, in their place I would shoot to kill too.

Let me explain my point of view here, and it’s a simple one. I think the Old Testament had a point with this ‘eye for an eye’ business. If you take a human life, you ought to be ready to give yours in exchange. No, I’m not talking about a car accident or something like that. There is a price to be paid whenever you take a human life, but when you deliberately do so, you imply through your actions that life is cheap. Ergo, you should not break a sweat about giving up your life either. And tell your weeping relatives that they contributed to your downfall, okay? They who benefited from your drug dealing, didn’t attempt to curb your violent nature, wouldn’t accept that there was a serious evil streak in there somewhere; they are as guilty as you. They can keep their crocodile tears to themselves. Better their pain than that of victims’ families.

The problem I find with today’s Belize is that the breaking of laws has no consequences, or it has the wrong ones. You run up-stop in your car, and you might find a police car doing the same thing right in front of you. That cop has lost the right to tell you what to do, right? So you run up-stop whenever you feel like it. You break the speed limit, who’s going to stop you? There you’ll find a Minister’s vehicle overtaking you. Sooo…he races up to Belmopan, passes a law or two to justify his presence there, but he doesn’t have to abide by the law he made, yet he expects you to do so. Oh by the way, don’t get me started on the damned red plates again –if ever a law was dashed to pieces on the rocks of arrogance, it’s the law regarding license plate colors.

Continuing my original train of thought though, if you litter, who cares? If you smuggle Johnny Black or a couple Bensons, so what? Odds are, those who ought to enforce these laws have lost their moral authority to tell you anything, so they can’t enforce them, right? Ever checked what liquor your ministers drink, what cigarettes they smoke? Moral authority gaan, mi bredda!

So the little things become big things, and you commit a murder knowing full well you’ll never be hanged, and if you’re rich enough, cops will develop amnesia for you, witnesses will have laryngitis, and you’ll not see too much time in jail, if any at all. Hell, if you go ‘da back,’ your life ain’t all that rough anyway. Here’s the hint: just pretend a little humility, say ‘God’ and ‘Jesus’ every so often when the Big Boss is in earshot and he’ll go to the hilt for you, battle for early release, you know? Yeah, you’re penned up, but you get three squares, a turn in the air-conditioned computer lab if you play your cards right, and you can maybe even run a business on the side, as long as you cut the guards in on a percentage of the gig.

You might have figured out by now that I’m writing this because I'm angry. Last night, a very nice lady was beaten to death in her own home, the latest of too many horrific murders. Her two little girls are left with serious physical and mental trauma. Tell me, where’s their justice?

Prime Minister, Minister, Attorney General, National Security CEO, DPP, ComPol, you’ve lost every battle so far simply by not showing up to fight. Unless you wake up and get serious, you’re about to lose the war; the body count is piling up on the wrong side. And don’t quote stats back at me, neither I nor the family of Sandra Ruiz are interested. Oh, don’t wave that Preventative Detention flag at me either, you can accomplish the necessary without it, if you’re prepared to crack down and enforce the laws we already have, up to and including hanging. Let me make it simple for you: if people begin to fear that breaking laws have real and serious consequences, we’ll be making progress.

Want me to print it on a red license plate for you?

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Don't Shoot, It's Mexico!

Four of our boys are stuck in Mexico and quite likely to remain there for a few years. Let’s be honest people, they were stupid. And don’t give me crap about “they were just doing their jobs.” They went into the territory of Mexico with guns and without any official –by which I mean documented— permission to carry those guns. Tell you what, if my boss tells me to break the law, especially in a country that has no sense of humor about these things, I’m gonna have to go job hunting!

Now that I’ve said that and you’re all mad at me and drawing breath to shout that it doesn’t matter and they’re not stupid, let me stop you right there and tell you that the anger you’re directing at me is really something else. You want to tell me “it doesn’t matter, these guys are our fellow Belizeans and how dare Mexico treat them like that” right? Yeah, that’s called nationalism, or maybe even patriotism.

For those of you who aren’t feeling it yet, let me give you my view here. What I personally am thinking is that yes, these guys broke the law. But remember this, they did it chasing a couple of guys who broke the law on our side of the border. These bad guys are home safe, maybe not too sound, but they are being painted as victims and no one’s talking of returning them to our authorities to face charges. Fair? I think not.

This is just the latest of hundreds of incidents that have happened to Belizeans over many, many years across the border in our favorite shopping territory. Everybody knows somebody who has some horror story to tell, right? Hey, we built Chet, and after all we’ve done for them, if we get in a car accident and the Mexican driver’s at fault, we still have to pay. Yet, horrified though we claim to be, we keep going across to Mexico to shop, watch movies, eat tacos and drink beer, paying our hard-earned pesos along the way, developing Chetumal more everyday. Obviously we’re not that bothered about how Mexican authorities treat our people, not really.

But if you are one of the few who are angry enough to actually do something, then how best to handle your outrage, how do you most effectively throw your nationalism in Mexican faces? Heck, that’s easy. Just keep your money on this side of the border, boycott Chet; don’t go there. Amandala said it, Mexico’s for the Mexicans, but we keep building up their territory for them and not our own for us.

That nationalistic outrage you’re feeling? Shove it where it’ll hurt them most, in their wallets.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Delivering Justice...When?

Chalk one more up on the criminals’ side of the scoreboard. What? What do you mean you’ve run out of space? But the cops say crime has dropped. Ha! This, my children, is a joke. Do you think the family of Angel and Marco Tulio Xis think that crime is declining? Hell, no. The fact is, justice has been denied to crime victims too many times in too many ways, and the system sleeps on. In fact, picture the entire justice system snoozing in a row of hammocks on a long, shaded, breezy verandah. Because the judges, the prosecutors, the police and all the others involved in delivering justice can’t possibly be awake to our realities.

Okay, kudos to the cops for catching those young monsters who killed the Hills for a few trinkets and a vehicle. But seriously, how many people think like I do, that it’ll be a miracle if these boys end up being found guilty at all? And of course, we know they’ll never, ever hang. Saddest of all, when they get away with it, everyone in the justice system will blame everyone else for the failure, and no one will actually fix it.

I admit, I don’t have the magic bullet solution for the crime problem. I don’t think anyone does if they’re honest about it. I do know that this country’s too small to have this big of a problem, which automatically means that somebody’s not dealing with it as they should.

These days, most cases don’t make it to trial thanks to witness tampering; this needs to be seriously addressed, through punitive measures and by providing protection if required. For those criminals who actually do land up in prison, please, PLEASE put them to do hard labour. The idea is to make sure they don’t ever want to come back to prison, and you can make them think twice about it without treating them like animals. Certainly it cannot be achieved by allowing them to live in relative comfort, playing with computers all day, until it’s time to have a weekend out with the girlfriend –what innocent child ever viewed this as a deterrent?

Incidentally, Honourable Ministers, you need to get to work rectifying that CCJ mess. No, we’re not so naïve as to think that the CCJ will automatically let us hang brutal killers with ease, but at least when their lawyers take us to the highest of mortal courts, that court won’t be the painfully expensive Privy Council.

The fact is, we live in an increasingly dangerous society, which is unhealthy culturally, societally and economically. Any politician worth his votes ought to be seriously, actively, loudly addressing it, as should the citizenry. By the way, did you think that ‘not seeing’ a crime will make it go away? When you’re tempted to play ostrich, ask yourself how you would feel if something happened to you or yours and witnesses refused to speak up. Shouldn’t victims have rights?

Friday, July 4, 2008

Starting Over

I haven’t done this in a while, and to tell you the truth, I almost quit completely. You see, bloggers draw their energy and motivation from their audiences. The comments readers make, whether they agree or disagree, get bloggers going, set their mental juices flowing. If you’re silent, eventually we go silent. Hell, what’s the use of shouting when there’s no one to hear? Mind you, I wasn’t angry at my mute readership, I just figured I was doing it wrong, that I wasn’t being provoking enough. So I'll work on that if you do your part.

The idea behind this little project is to get dialogue going. I figure if you can afford a computer, an internet connection, and know how to surf the web, then you’re capable of rational thought and intellectual discussion. If you’re speaking anonymously you can speak freely, right? So I challenge you to make your comments, forward this blog to everyone you know, get the discussion going. Let’s make this thing so big that the politicians have to take notice. Then, by our anonymity, let’s make them crazy by preventing them from buying us off as they have other advocacy groups.

Use this (as well as Belize Watch) as one more forum to let the guys in charge know that we’re not taking any more abuse from them. Use all forums available, tell everyone about your thoughts, make everything you know public; get the dark stuff into the light. And if you have information you want to share, post it here or email it to belizebeliever@gmail.com.

In the meantime, let’s start this relationship over. Hi, I’m pissed, and you are…?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Deliver us from...the Lord

Lord save us
They said, all those years ago.
He charged in, you see,
Allegedly to save you and me.

Lord be praised
They murmured in hushed tones.
Those who over him fawned
While our heritage they pawned.

Lord only knows
How deeply they bowed.
Following him to wealth,
Trading our economic health.

Lord Voldemort lives.
His Death Eaters thrive.
In Potter’s field our freedom lies
Traded like a cheap tin prize

He Who Must Not Be Named
(For Fear of a Lawsuit)
Bought us lock, stock and barrel
From our leaders, with nary a quarrel

Lord help us?
Never, only ever himself
And while we remain naïve
We’ll earn no reprieve

The Lord will provide
For himself and his kin
Till we send him and his fans
To rot in Azkhaban!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Red, Blue and Shades of Gray

A hilarious thing happened to me the other day. Within the space of a half-day I was, with equal vehemence, called both a PUP and a UDP. Both of my accusers threw their insults at me with similar distaste. I was at first offended; then I shifted gears to amusement because the reason for the accusation was the same on both sides: I had dared to criticize the party they supported!

Now, you need to understand that I’m an average Belizean. Maybe a little more educated than most, but average in that I go out and earn my daily bread in a job that, while spiritually unrewarding, allows me to finance that which fulfills my life. Average citizen that I am, I share in my fellow citizens’ fury every time a politician does something that tarnishes his office. Our angst, you see, is colorblind. And our colorblindness reveals certain negative yet increasingly common traits or habits in politicians of both major parties when they are in office:*

Get a really baaad car. The ministerial ride is a total babe magnet, and your vehicle choice will be one of the most important decisions you make as Minister. Of course, these days, with all the nice cars out there you also ought to slap a red license plate on there so the babes know for sure who you are. Man, does that send them right into your arms!

Taste the power. Hey, you’re a minister now, you must know that means you can do anything you want. Por Dios…and you are Dios…who can stop you from doing it? Go ahead, use your name and rank everywhere, the people will be breathless as you wield your power to give your best friend land, or make sure that your constituent gets that job, appointment or contract, whether or not he deserves it. Incidentally, this is one way to win the working man’s heart, when you give his lazy, shiftless neighbor gifts untold just because said neighbor controls fourteen votes.

Profile, profile, profile. You, by virtue of your victory and subsequent ministerial appointment, have been rendered psychic. You therefore can tell, just by looking at any person in the street, whether they voted for or against you. As the Miss Cleo of politicians you will know with absolute certainty that someone voted against you by their family name, the clothes they wear, the food they eat, and because they didn’t fall on their knees to kiss your butt the moment you walked in the room. If you even think someone voted against you, they are The Enemy, remember this and rough ‘em up accordingly. Odds are your career will be just as successful as Miss Cleo’s if you follow your psychic instincts.

Power = wealth within 5 years. Being omnipotent, and psychic too, you are in a position to take advantage of opportunities, whether or not you deserve them. Be creative, and things being what they are, you will make sure to have a retirement package ready for the end of your five-year contract. Just in case. In short, plan for the day when your friends turn out to be enemies you couldn’t see because they ducked behind your butt and planted kisses there for camouflage.

Criticism is always politically motivated. This is where I came in. Try to discipline yourself to recite the mantra “that’s political.” Whenever someone disapproves of your action, be it media, organization or private citizen, say “that’s political” and the comment will magically be made ineffective. Take care with this one though, as the long term effect has more than once been to make ruling governments jobless.

The day that I was so viciously and bilaterally accused, I went home thinking I had done something wrong because I hadn’t convinced my acquaintances that I was on their side. Then I slapped myself silly for thinking that. Hell, I did good, because I established that I wasn’t a party-line toeing robot. I’m a free thinker and as such an endangered species. When we become extinct and the brainwashed members of the political cults take over completely, the country will be utterly lost.

Who is really The Enemy of Belize? Is it the guy selling out your country or the guy telling the truth about the sellout of your country? Answer that correctly and I’ll be the ‘P’ on your side.

*These traits have been widely observed in our leadership over the last few decades. They can appear in any order, and are not limited to those listed above. If you’ve seen others, please feel free to share with the author and readers by clicking ‘comment’ and making your addition.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Port Security for Dummies

The wall comes tumbling down…well, no, not totally. Let me explain for the benefit of those who have been living in a cave for the past few days. I don’t think tourists realize that the simple act of shopping outside the designated port can be hazardous, but fortunately FSTV has once again stepped up to protect their interest –I mean the tourists’ interests, of course. Once the court insisted that FSTV must ‘Bruk Down DI Wall,’ FSTV also decided to ‘Bruk Down DI Boardwalk.’ This is good news for local ISPS experts, because we knew that the Bad People would only have come from either Brown Sugar or Michael Colin’s ends of the boardwalk.

We know that the Bad People could never get away with landing a boat on a crowded day nor could they have strolled through the landside entrance to FSTV disguised as innocent tourists. We also know that the Really Bad People would never rent a helicopter and approach by air. We totally understand that the only potential danger points that FSTV security can’t guard effectively are the two ends of the boardwalk. Fortunately, the Bad People are lazy and not at all creative, so these are the only ways they would try to get into the ‘designated port’ to harm those poor, unwitting tourists, and therefore their plans have been foiled once more.

We onlookers are relieved to know that folks from FSTV and the Port Authority are being so diligent about port security, and if I may, I’d like to relay a few of our suggestions to keep that ISPS code intact and therefore maintain our status as a secure cruise port so the ships don’t stop coming:

1. Taxi drivers taking people on tour should be encouraged to drive a little faster or stay out of the way of regular traffic flow. Slow taxis can make an inviting target, and Homeland Security would frown on a minivan-load of American citizens suffering from whiplash inflicted by a malicious rear-end collision.

2. Hair braiders should be asked to quietly warn people before they begin that Caucasians with braided hair tend to look ridiculous. We would hate for one of them to look in a mirror after the fact and be terrified by their own reflection, and we suspect that the cruise industry may begin to regard these procedures as random acts of terrorism after enough people have been reduced to cringing masses of well-braided fear.

3. Shops inside FSTV ought to be carefully vetted for tacky yet overpriced souvenirs. Excessive exposure to cheap t-shirts and flimsy imported souvenirs with ‘Belize’ painted on them could be interpreted as a threat to tourism.

4. Another potential problem you might have overlooked: fish. Now, we don’t imagine that there are too many fish hanging around in the water near FSTV, but don’t underestimate their sneakiness…and keep in mind that they travel in gangs, which they call ‘schools.’ Clever, huh? No one can predict what fish will get up to while they hide underwater and swim around the tenders unseen and unheard, probably looking for weak spots.

Now, there are probably many other things we haven’t yet thought of, but since it’s everyone’s duty to protect cruise tourism, we thought it best to speak up. We’ve held back our thoughts for a long time, but once you guys broke through the boardwalk your actions demonstrated your serious dedication to keeping the tourists safe from all harm while they’re visiting. We think that’s commendable and we do hope that our suggestions are helpful.

Oh yes, and watch out for dive-bombing pigeons!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Whither ACB?

Three or four years ago (their website doesn’t say exactly when) a group of Belizean professionals, enraged by the Social Security scandal, decided to take on the PUP government then in power. Believers and cynics alike watched closely as the Association of Concerned Belizeans attacked with vigour, energy, creativity and a great deal of courage. The ACB, as we all came to know them, became a fairly regular discussion topic for the water cooler crowd.

The cynics claimed the ACB was merely a UDP tool, a claim apparently borne out by the forums held in the early days of their existence, which almost exclusively hosted UDP speakers. The believers, defending the ACB, insisted that labeling them UDP was merely a PUP political tactic, and of course all the speakers had to be UDP since the PUP invitees universally refused to attend. That, they said, was the political equivalent of a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Regardless of which side they were on, fair-minded observers had to admire ACB’s dedication, though the cynics clung stubbornly to their labels. However, their last, most epic battle involved taking the government to court over the notorious UHS guarantee, an extremely popular move with the freshly enraged public. Many cynics jumped to the believers’ side of the ACB fence, and public opinion swung decisively against the Musa government.

That court battle is not yet won, as far as we know, but in the meantime, an astounding change of government has taken place and subsequent events, some UHS-related, have dimmed the spotlight that originally shone on that dispute. Immediately after the change the pundits and the public alike began to debate whether the ACB will display similar tenacity in pursuing the actions of the new government if and when the need arises.

According to their website, http://www.acb.org.bz/, we can count on the ACB for exactly that: ‘ACB is primarily established to be a watchdog group on government activities and policies, we also question government's accountability and transparency at any time we feel necessary. Our purpose is to take part in the political process of our nation and to function as a non-partisan organization. We are political without being politicians, everyday our association grows in number and support, based on that philosophy.’

However, as the new government moves its chessmen into place on various boards and representations, we are forced to wonder if the cynics were right. Several of the ACB’s most prominent members have been appointed to key positions, once again dividing the believers and the cynics. The believers contend that these appointments give the ACB the chance to ‘put their money where their mouths were.’ The cynics retort that the view changes when you’re looking from the inside out. Their example is the former ACB President and founder turned UDP campaign manager who now appears to have become everything he once condemned.

The bottom line question we need the ACB to answer is: what is left of their non-partisan organization to question the government’s actions? After all, the change of government and the power it holds combined with the narrow-mindedly partisan habits of Belizean politicians suggests certain predictable actions and therefore requires continued strong vigilance.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Clear the Laws?

I hate to say it. I mean, who wants to seem judgmental? But lately I’ve been feeling like we ought to have a class on leadership that’s mandatory for all the guys who think they can run our country. You might want to argue with me, but here we are again with a minister who, right though he might be in his aims, is going about things the wrong way. I am, of course, referring to one Hon. Castro, who decided to ‘Clear the Land’ without following the proper legal procedures. Check out the story at http://www.channel5belize.com/#a1 or at http://www.7newsbelize.com/index.php#story8.

Minister Castro, no matter how well-intentioned your actions, you are in the business of making and changing laws, not to mention that by your actions you should be encouraging adherence to them. Instead, you proceed to break them to pieces, thereby becoming exactly the kind of person you were elected to replace. Yes, “an EIA sounds like a big word” but we’ve all heard that ‘word’ very often in the last few years. It’s difficult to imagine that in today’s Belize a project costing in excess of $4.5 million didn’t need some kind of clearance. You could have asked.

On Channel 5 tonight, you said “…I know that this would have had to come but if I had gone through all the different processes, it would have been, we would not be here. We would still be talking up to next year, next three, four, five years, we’d still be talking. We are not doing nothing bad in the sense that we are not disturbing the ecosystem. I am environmentally friendly.

Leadership 101, Lesson 1: guess what, mi bredda, if the laws are that cumbersome, and I agree they are, you’re in the perfect position to change them. Make the procedures more efficient while still protecting the environment! You see, I keep saying it, maybe you are doing a good thing for your people here, but you broke the law to do it. This is tantamount to a vigilante killing a known criminal –it might seem like the right thing, but it’s against the law. Hopefully you haven’t killed the environment in the process.

Now that the horse is out of the barn door, and you and the authorities are working to put it back with minimal repercussions, hopefully you’ve learned from this experience. Your assignment then, is as follows: remind your colleagues as often as necessary that the NGOs and ordinary voters are watching, and that we expect better from this government than the treatment we got the last time around. Do the right thing each and every time, no exceptions, no excuses.

Oh, and by the way, Mister Castro, please change your license plates to the legal kind.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

License to Govern

A friend of mine saw something yesterday that made her angry, unreasonably so, I thought at first. She saw a government vehicle with red license plates, front and back, bearing the word ‘MINISTER’ in white letters. “It’s only a small law, I know, but then lawbreaking usually starts with the small ones” she observed. For those of you unfamiliar with these things, Belize government vehicles should have blue ‘B’ plates with numbers on them, not words. Those of you familiar with party politics here will understand why lesser men of the current government would have a problem with blue plates, though I shouldn’t have thought the numbers would be offensive.

Why, I asked myself, was my friend so upset? Against the backdrop of $40 million being given to someone who cares not one jot for the welfare of Belize and her people, why would a license plate costing less than $100 in taxpayer funds matter?

Of course, there’s the practical consideration that if twenty or so of these vehicles are distributed throughout the country, and one of them is in an accident or used in the commission of a crime, the usual method of identification is no longer viable for that vehicle.

But that’s not what had my friend so upset. Even she might not understand the basis for her fury, but I think it’s this: if you are a true leader and interested in the welfare of your people, if you have within you the kind of humility seen in the greatest of world leaders, you require no labels to be recognized in your greatness. Conversely, if you do require labels, your insistence on them indicates an inability to demonstrate the sort of leadership this country requires in order to survive its upcoming trials. It shows weakness of purpose. I think my friend was reacting from a subconscious fear that this kind of trivial thinking leads us down a dangerous road.

Here’s the deal MINISTERS, we need you to pay attention to what matters. Get our $40 million back (and all the other millions), put the thieves in jail, stop the killings, deal with the AIDS and drug epidemics, lock the pedophiles away from our children, make the tax evaders pay, and reduce our cost of living. The time you spend being preoccupied with the colour of a license plate and the newness of the vehicle it’s posted on distracts you from all of that. You want my respect? Make my life and lives of the rest of my countrymen better, and try your damndest to stick to the laws of Belize while you’re at it. That’s the only way to show me that you’re better than the last bunch.

In the meantime, you want to improve the appearance of your nice, new, shiny vehicles? Put Belize flags on them. These might serve as reminders to you of who paid for them.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Requiescant In Pace? Too Soon to Bury the Dead?

At the General Elections of 7th February, the people of Belize resoundingly underscored a message they had tried to send to the Musa/Fonseca conspiracy of dictatorship in the municipal and village council elections. But it appeared that these two could not hear us no matter how loudly we clamored for change from their status quo. Having lost on the national, municipal and rural stages, they tried to set the PUP stage for their victory at least at the party level.
So today, their own party, after years of willing entrapment in a gilded cage of their making, rejected them as we have, only not quite so resoundingly. Questions I have:
  • Will the duo in question learn that their sun has really, truly set? Or will their machinations go into even higher gear?
  • How much did their near-but-not-quite-there victory cost them? Though I imagine party funds oiled that machine, as foreign funds intended for us fueled 7th February’s failure at the national polls. That’s the kind of irony we onlookers enjoy.
  • What role will the Leader Emeritus assume now? Instead of going gently into the good night, he allowed himself to be used to endorse Francis, thereby shooting party democracy in its metaphorical foot. So quo vadis, Mr Price?

I think the greatest service rendered by the People’s United Party between 7th February and today is the shattering of their own myth of immortality. But did they punish the Musa/Fonseca combine enough to crush the philosophy of greed forever?

What’s next for the boys (and girls) in blue? Tell me your thoughts and ideas.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Wish List

I have a wish list for Belize, and it's this:

  1. Give us back all the millions, not just the 40 we're talking about right now...WE WANT IT ALL BACK!
  2. Put a few people in jail (whoever you can catch, I'm not that choosy) as an example of what not to do to our country. Don't make the cells comfortable either.
  3. Make sure that when those people get out of jail, they and their friends are so poor, they have to beg for a job cleaning streets.
  4. Cut the PuppetMaster's strings -he has some around necks, and some attached to sticky, pudgy fingers. Cut them all clean. Leaders must lead for the benefit of the country, not its would-be owner.
  5. Make political leaders understand that their five-year contract with the voters includes a performance clause with regard to the whole economy, not just their individual cronies and constituents. None are more equal than others in the polling booth.
  6. Bring back hanging in a big way...you take my life, society takes yours. Fair exchange is no robbery, right?
  7. Get the opposition party to wake up to its faults. You blues can't blame anyone but yourselves for your downfall, and we need you to accept that and move on to being a viable, strong, vocal opposition.
  8. Have the media keep up the good work, and let the voters continue to learn the power of words to avert misdeeds.

What are your wishes? Send in your comments.

Friday, March 14, 2008

From Fury to Disgust, A Round Trip

At a weekly rate, new and more horrendous horrors are revealed before our eyes. I'm concerned that as the avalanche of revelatory documents piles up above our heads, we may forget the lesser or earlier details. For instance, do you remember the founding of UHS? Yeah, there's a story there, just ask around.

My outrage though, comes from insult. I, along with the Belizean people, have had my intelligence, not to mention my sense of fair play, thoroughly insulted, beyond the obvious financial injury committed. Remember when the former government, with grande temerity, suggested that they had supported UHS because Belize needs a tertiary care institution? How severe is the amnesia which collectively struck them. Francis, our Presumptive Party Leader, the Man, the Voice of Integrity, jumped into the media fray with that excuse when the guarantee story broke. He honestly forgot, poor lost boy, that there was a tertiary care institution with a much longer and less tarnished history than UHS. Any guesses? If Belize Medical Associates was your guess, then congratulations, you've managed to avoid contracting PUP Amnesia, a deadly disease that can kill political ambitions.

Now, having conveniently forgotten the existence of Belize Medical Associates in their quest for tertiary care salvation, the engineers of this debacle also could not carry out simple mathematical calculations. They couldn't even estimate that simply investing in developing the KHMH could give that tertiary care access they were crowing about. Don't quote me on this, but apparently it might even have cost less than 10 million Belize Dollars!

Making matters 40 million times worse, the Prime Minister of Belize, as he then was, decided that the founders/owners of UHS and their private sector lenders needed a government guarantee and loan terms that would ensure that, should they fail, they wouldn't be the ones to suffer. And, this I am willing to admit, he did a sterling job of it. None of them have yet convinced any of us that they are suffering. Nover forget that it's the safety net that takes the licking when the acrobat falls from the trapeze.

When we found out, we weren't our customary complacent selves. We protested mightily, we protested with all our lung power, all our brawn, all the energy we could muster. We told our leaders, the guys who we'd elected to represent our interests, that the whole idea of having taxpayers take on the oversized debt of a gluttonous private sector institution was distasteful, absolutely unacceptable. We told the lender to take our country to court, and warned him that we wouldn't give in without a fight. When the 'lee breeze' showed signs of reaching hurricane strength, the government backed down, or so we thought.

Calmness restored, the government went about the business of selling UHS. When they announced success, the lies began again, assuming they had ever stopped. On that now-famous radio show, the soon-to-be-ousted Prime Minister was forced to reveal that yes, he had condemned, er, committed, the government to spending $3.6 million per year at UHS, whether or not services of equivalent value were received. If that wasn't an election loser, I've no idea what would qualify for the title.

Fast forward to present revelations. We find that our exorbitant debt is paid in full, against our wishes. We further find that we have bought a hospital we do not own, with money we never had. "Curiouser and curiouser," quoth the current Prime Minister.

What could we have done with $40 million dollars? Money that was a gift to help us out of our artificially imposed poverty and misery? It helped, yes. It helped the undeserving few as they continued on their merry way, robbing the poor to give to the dirty rich. I'm outraged, and so should you be, because the moral of this particular story is that morals are increasingly decayed, decomposed in fact, almost beyond recognition. It is the ultimate in safe guesses that none of the major players in this chapter of our tragedy believes that they've done anything wrong. As citizens and taxpayers, it's our duty to point out at every opportunity that we will never accept such cavalier treatment of our resources ever again, by anyone.

If we don't, then the last lines of Edgar Allan Poe's, 'The Raven' becomes our curse. "And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor/Shall be lifted - nevermore!"

Nevermore, that's the watchword and don't you let them forget it.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Are We Awake Yet?

A new day, a new ruling party. The romance of the giant flags recedes, replaced by reality in living color. No one doubts what the truth will be, yet everyone believes a different truth. Can we hope for a happy ending that gives us a new beginning? Is it time? Or will new vehicles be bought once more, favors granted to a fortunate one or too few. Will the spirits of Orwellian swine take over their souls? We wonder aloud, ceaselessly, restlessly; our questions are waves flung against barren, answerless rocks. Ask the oracle, but she's the sphynx; your reward will be another riddle.

"I have six children," the woman cries. "I can't live eena no laptop!" Hallooo, is that reality we hear? A cry for 'sympathization' or of rage? Hope springs eternal, but springs run dry too...and leave us high...on infinite despair.

Nothing to do but wait. And watch. We watch like hawks, ready to swoop down on weakening prey, even as they fall victim to the desire for gain, succumb to the deadly poison that is greed.

It can't go wrong anymore. Do you worship mediocrity? Move on then. Find other game. We'll accept perfection, not a penny less.