“Two men went up into the temple to pray, the one a Pharisee and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself: God, I thank Thee that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week; I give tithes of all I possess.”
– LUKE, Chapter 18, verses 10-12
On Tuesday of this week, the Prime Minister and his Cabinet made a few moves with respect to the disciplinary problems involving Cayo North East area representative, Elvin Penner, and Belize Rural North area representative, Edmond Castro. (The details of the moves are being reported elsewhere in this issue of the newspaper.)
There are two immediate things to note about the Penner and Castro situations. One is that the Penner violations are more serious, and in fact constitute a crime against the nation of Belize. And the second thing to note is that Penner is much weaker politically in his constituency than Castro is.
Many Belizeans have the view that the elected politicians in their particular constituency, when that politician’s political party is also elected to government and he or she becomes a Cabinet Minister, should find ways to use the system so that the constituency and the constituents can gain benefits. If, in acquiring those benefits for the constituency and the constituents, the elected politician also feathers his own nest, many voters will not normally hold that against him. That is how it appears. In the specific case of Mr. Castro, he defended his Belize Rural North seat with a huge margin of victory in 2012, even after the Prime Minister had removed him from Cabinet in his first term because of a misdeed.
When nationalist politics began here in 1950, first there was the People’s United Party (PUP) in 1950, and then in 1951 there was the organized opposition to the PUP, which was the Nationalist Party (NP). The NP became the National Independence Party (NIP) in 1958, and that became the United Democratic Party (UDP) in 1973.
The PUP won all general elections from 1954 until 1979, and the rank-and-file of the NP, the NIP, and the UDP, always considered themselves of higher moral worth than the rank-and-file of the PUP. The Belizeans of the NP, NIP, and UDP, felt that they and their party were honest, and that the Belizeans of the PUP were dishonest. Today, however, if it was the case that the PUP were publicans, then, it is for sure the UDP are Pharisees.
Belize is a small place, and all of us know each other’s business. This is a filthy government. All over the place you can see their hogs snout deep in the public trough, and the people of Belize have a saying for it: “Neva si, cohn si.” The point is that the party culture of the UDP is acquisitive, it is greedy, and it considers itself entitled.
This Tuesday’s moves by Cabinet are therefore to be welcomed. The indications are that sober reality has paid a visit there. Sooner, better.