Saturday, May 23, 2009

Apathy vs Bull Crap...Again, Where's the Rage?

When will we get angry? You know the kind of anger: where you feel your head will explode, and you want to throw things, smash stuff, roar epithets at the top of your lungs until your throat becomes sandpaper. When will we get that angry?

Newborn Andy Jones died last week, a victim of a horrendous chain of events that add up to a serious indictment of our healthcare system and its custodians. Aside from a chorus of oh-poor-things, only Amandala seems to be angry enough to say 'Bull Crap!' I think that's an excellent choice of phrase, by the way. But where's OUR anger?

One of our readers mentioned it: Roldan Trapp, a father of five, was killed in a hit-and-run. Oddly enough, even though the pickup was found, no one seems to be able to trace the owner and arrest the culprit, nor have we heard why that's not possible. Mr Trapp has, in the meantime, been relegated to the rank of stray dog -no one cares, for the dead are gone. Where's our anger?

Glenford Williams, a security guard, was shot in an attempted holdup. He lies critical in the hospital. Half a dozen or more surgeries later, he'll never be the same, if he survives. Juan Carlos Castillo and Peter Guenther, the two men murdered in Cayo in the past week might, if they could be asked, regard him as the lucky one. So might Rosa Cornejo, the businesswoman from Belmopan who was tortured and killed. What will come of all of these murders -what is it, 37 so far for 2009? Will anyone ever again hang in this country? Hell, will anyone ever again even be convicted of murder? Where's our anger?

Holdup jacking murder robbery killing mugging rape incest fraud arson shooting theft stabbing assault, it all runs together in the news, a hypnotic, mind-numbing ritualistic nightly repetition of the same damned and deathly chorus. And it has numbed our minds to anger; we're emotional zombies.We do know fear though, it is our friend and constant companion. We lock ourselves in our homes, afraid to go anywhere. We are silent in the face of controversy, afraid to rock the boat even though it's already sinking. And while the schoolyard bullies arm themselves, we cower and hope it'll be the neighbour and not us who gets it when the time comes. Where's our anger?

"Thank God I don't have to go to PG/Dangriga/San Ignacio hospital to deliver my baby. Poor Cenaida."
"That poor man, that's why I never ride my bike on the Northern."
"Ah, security guards have the worst jobs, that poor man."
"Hmm, those people must have been into something, to be murdered like that, poor things."

Not me, never me, it can't, it WON'T happen to me...we are so condescending and selfish and full of false hope in our denials. Remember this, every time something happens to someone else, the odds of it happening to you are shortened. Unless things change, your turn WILL come. And there will be little or no interest or follow-up. And no one will speak up for you...or for me.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Where's the Rage? What's the Recourse?

In modern 21st century Belize, a young mother, Cenaida Raymundo, had to deliver a baby on her own, by herself, all alone, in a hospital, only to have that baby die from brain damage. Little Andy's umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck, something that isn't normally lethal (not in this century, not in a reasonably competent medical facility), something that happens every day. His death was unnecessary and outrageous. All of it boiled down to a hideously perfect combination of neglect and incompetence by medical 'professionals' who apparently are as capable of caring for those consigned to their care as are the vultures 'backa dump.' Well, the vultures would probably deal more tenderly.

The details of Cenaida's ordeal are hideous, even medieval. And they are not, in separate parts, unique stories. Putting the mess before the humans, the non-response to a mother's terrified screams for help, the inept and half-hearted attempts at transport, the cold-blooded quips about praying for another's death in order for a turn at the ventilator, these are not unheard of, not at all without multiple precedents. And each of them on their own is disgusting, unacceptable.  Put together, as in this family's experience, they are scenes in a Halloween movie...horror!

We are all mourning the unnecessary and painful loss of a newborn Belizean who died yesterday before he had a chance to live. This tiny baby, little Andy Jones, one of our citizens, was sentenced to a tortured death through neglect, and I sense that without public outrage, without major outcry, nothing will be done beyond a light slap on a wrist or two. I sense this because I haven't heard any mea culpas yet, not from the PG hospital, not from KHMH, not from any vote-seeking politicians. Even Dr Pitts seemed to think it unnecessary to utter a single word acknowledging the magnitude of the loss, and the horror, that this family has endured. Pathetic! KHMH authorities couldn't even find it fit to break with policy to help an anguished Cenaida get little Andy's body home...their alternate suggestion only piles on the nightmares.

Unless we speak up, unless we stomp our feet and throw a tantrum, nothing will be done to prevent this happening again and again and again. Say something! Let not this child have died in vain!

Click the links below to read the stories:
Mother delivers baby herself in PG hospital - Amandala 
Female farmer's terrible experience in delivering her baby in PG hospital - Amandala Letters to the Editor 
Cenaida Raymundo's Baby Dies - Channel 7 
Director of Health Services Promises Full Investigation - Channel 7
Mother claims negligence in death of newborn - Channel 5

...And investigation into baby's death underway - Channel 5 

 Then make some noise!!!

Friday, May 15, 2009

The Incorruptible Ostrich

The trouble with having lawyers in charge of the country is that they have a different perspective from normal folk. We see right and wrong; lawyers see legal and illegal. And unfortunately, when the lawyers are leaders of the lawmakers, if something is illegal, that's easily fixed. If something is legal, it doesn't really matter whether it's wrong or right, the only thing that matters is that no one will go to jail...ever! Ethics and morality have been put through the shredder and are no longer relevant in our democracy's struggle for survival.

The media is abuzz this week over one TV station's offer of a reward for information leading to the conviction of individuals involved in corruption at the Ministry of Lands. Earlier this week the Prime Minister was on another TV station proclaiming his personal incorruptibility. I don't dispute that the PM himself is not corrupt, but he should be careful for whom he puts his head on the block, as he has now done for the Lands Minister.

The PM has long asked for proof of corruption, and he renewed that request again this week, specifically in relation to the Lands issue. The problem is, being mortal, he suffers from a blind spot where 'friends' are concerned. Being a lawyer, he deals with that blind spot by demanding a level of proof normally reserved for a courtroom. Minister Coy is, to date, the only minister unschooled (let's be polite) enough to leave that kind of proof. You can bet that his colleagues have learned from his mistake, and then go double or nothing that Coy's not the only member of Cabinet who operates in the certain knowledge that Ministerial rank puts you above the law. Remember, he gets to be Minister again after a six-month holiday, and we haven't heard of any real penalties for the constituent he intervened to here to email info about penalties, I'd love to be corrected.

A memorable example of the triumph of denial over doing what's right would be Ms Haylock's contract between NICH and one Gegg. This document was procedurally suspect, ethically questionable, but not actually illegal, and so Ms Haylock, a good friend of our leader, was excused with a light slap on the wrist while the Minister who dared to question the transaction was given das boot, an outcome many pundits predicted. And so it will apparently go into eternity, cyclical but endless.

Let me say very clearly here that "the PUP did way worse," "this is the way it's always been" and all the other similar expressions are absolutely unacceptable to us voters. Equally unacceptable is the notion of a leader who closes his eyes and proclaims his personal innocence while others run rampant. "I didn't burn down the house" does not absolve you if you stood by watching the flames consume it. We fired the PUP because we didn't like what they were doing; doing ten percent less doesn't mean your crowd is better, it just means they aren't (yet) as bad. But yes, I do acknowledge that it is progress to have an incorrupt leader -it just isn't enough progress.

Prime Minister, Edmund Burke said it best: "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." Do you want to go down in history as the incorruptible leader who presided over rampant, unchecked corruption? Or would you prefer our descendants to remember you as the true leader, the statesman who made the hard decisions, who punished even his friends harshly if they did wrong, who made our country a shining example of democracy and discipline? It's not too late for the latter.

What will your legacy be, Honourable Prime Minister? Incorruptible ostrich or exemplary leader?

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Much Ado About Absolutely Nada

So Z loaded her favorite currency into the matrimonial purse. So what? By which I obviously mean, "Congrats Z, on making it official!"  Anyway, other than the fact that after much speculation we are thrilled to know she opted to marry locally, this ain't no big deal in the scheme of current affairs. It doesn't stop crime or lower the cost of living or clean up the city...except for the parking spots along the wedding route for one afternoon.

I do congratulate the Moyas on mixing work and play for their honeymoon in Barbados. Being the above-board lady that she is, I am absolutely certain that Z's paying the tab herself for all the plane fares and hotel and such, so kudos to the newlyweds on not fleecing the country to pay for the pleasure portion...not everybody would be so straight-up, you know?

For the media, can we PLEASE not see anymore wedding pictures? Please, let it go. I mean the fact that the Mayor got married and that the colours were white and cotton candy pink and that they kissed for the paparazzi -that did set tongues wagging though, didn't it- and that all the uppercrust of a specific political hue were, enough! The defiance of swine flu protocols...well, some are more equal than others, according to a story about a certain farm in which the (oops!) swine ruled. So those leading boars et al deemed worthy of attending would automatically be deemed impervious to the virus, no?

As I said, let it go. In a city where the Mayor rules as an absolute monarch over subjects living and dying in unnecessary poverty and squalor, it is somehow fitting that a royal wedding be held in the midst of the misery. Ah, let them eat [wedding] cake!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Democracy Is For Suckers

Oh Dean. Dear old Dean, fourth Honourable Prime Minister, yet to be Right, but Honourable nonetheless. I have a simple question for you, and I hope that you'll be able to provide your voting public with a simple, no-nonsense, monosyllabic kind of answer. The question is, when will you start to really run the country?

It sounds like a funny question, I know, and you're probably inclined to be a little offended. But bear with me here, I'll get right down to making my case.

Ihe first fact is, crime is only getting worse. I'm not sure if you've noticed, but your Cabinet's decision to put Crispin as Top Cop didn't exactly scare the criminals off the street. Hell, what does it matter if the cops do start arresting all the bad guys? They'll get off in court anyway. Between Dickie Bradley and witness intimidation, a criminal has to be pretty stupid (or broke) to get convicted these days -and if he does, he won't hang anyway. Which leads me to a good question: what are your fellow legal eagles doing about crime besides profiting from all the court activity?

That was crime. Now let's talk about Lands and Immigration, both the bane of the common man's existence. All of your friends probably have no problem getting their passport or their land title, but the rest of us look at transactions in either department as less enjoyable than to a trip to Hell in high summer. So when are you gonna get Gapi to start doing his job? Actually, when are you gonna start taking more than a politically-biased look at Gapi? You'd be amazed what you'll find...the rest of us are quite dismayed.

On the business side, judging from the 'railing up' I've been hearing, it looks like all of the business community feels like there's a gigantic bullseye painted on its collective back. The only folks who aren't murmuring are the, um, 'naughty' ones...many of whom are your most boisterous supporters. According to them, life is good, taxes are optional, and who the heck cares if a law or two disintegrates under their treatment? Unethical + immoral + illegal = untouchable due to political connections. And to think we were silly enough to think that you lot would be better than the last -we didn't realize that 'better' meant 'more skilled.'

I really don't mean to lecture, and I admit that armchair quarterbacks and backseat drivers are my least favourite people, but honestly, there is more to governing than trying nonstop to nail the Lord's carcass to the wall -not that I have a problem with that, we just need more from you. Here's what we want: control your ministers; stop defending your friends and overlooking their misdeeds -bad is bad no matter who you are; begin to set an example for the rest of us by starting the cleanup at the top.

Mister Prime Minister, we need Belize to be cleaned up, and in order to achieve that, we need you to start exhibiting that real leadership you promised. When should we expect to see it?