In November of each year many Christians celebrate the day of the dead and the most revered finados, as known to Catholics. In Chan Pine Ridge Village, which forms a part of the Orange Walk East constituency, residents are starting to prepare for their very own cabo de año to commemorate one year of neglect and desertion in the very hands of an individual who promised during his political campaign for general elections to “transform OW East”.
Belizeans can vividly recall that this November 4th will mark the first anniversary that Minister Elodio Aragon Jr. was elected by the people of Orange Walk East, including supporters of Chan Pine Ridge Village. It has also been one long, hopeless year that the Orange Walk East constituency and more specifically, Chan Pine Ridge Village has NOT seen or heard from Minister Aragon.
As a member of the Chan Pine Ridge Village Council (assistant treasurer), I write to register my total disenchantment and disappointment in the manner that my village has been abandoned by our current area representative since he won his first election on November 4th, inevitably creating an atmosphere of abandonment and social hollowness amongst our villagers. I categorically and unequivocally state in this reputable medium that our village has NOT in any shape or form been the recipient of a single dollar from the monthly constituency assistance that OW East has been getting since 12 months ago, which is now over approximately $45,000.
To solidify my statements, I must share some examples of what I deem as deliberate and needless neglect of our village and villagers, courtesy of our Area Representative. The road leading from the junction of Come & Go Gas Station off the Philip Goldson Highway to Chan Pine Ridge, for example, is in an unprecedented mess. This is the very same 2-mile stretch that also leads to the recently inaugurated Hon. Alfredo Martinez/Chan Pine Ridge Airstrip, where tens of tourists and locals traverse on a daily basis to board their respective flights to other destinations in Belize, especially the cayes. It is indeed disheartening to see this stretch of road shamefully boast itself as the eyesore not only of a struggling village like Chan Pine Ridge, but also of a significant point of arrival and departure in the name of Hon. Alfredo Martinez/Chan Pine Ridge Airstrip, which I must concur creates a critical axle point for many businesses in the Orange Walk district, especially tourist-oriented enterprises. The promise to pave this very same road made during the inaugural ceremonies of the Hon. Alfredo Martinez/Chan Pine Ridge Airstrip on November 2015 by Minister Aragon still vividly lingers in the hearts and minds of Chan Pine Ridgeños.
Furthermore, when my other colleagues and I won a landslide victory during the Village Council elections in May of this year, we immediately started to raise funds to finance a major project that we have promised our people — the fencing of the village’s cemetery. As was expected, our village council sent out formal and official letters of donations to the business community, including Minister Aragon, requesting support for this humble project. Numerous business houses have positively responded, but up to date, Minister Aragon has not had the courtesy to reply to our letter, an attitude that we as the Village Council deem uncaring and heartless, since he is obviously disenfranchising us of our right of access to the $4,000.00 monthly community vote that he gets for OW East. Our project, nonetheless, will certainly commence in early November and be completed by the end of the month.
As local community advocates in our village, many times we village councilors are bombarded with many rhetorical questions by our villagers: Aren’t we deserving of a part of the $4,000.00 community vote assistance Minister Aragon gets every month? Is Minister Aragon being spiteful to the people of Chan Pine Ridge because of the PUP village council landslide victory earlier this year? Will Minister Aragon ever pave the 2-mile stretch from the entrance of Come & Go gas station up to the entrance of our village or at least up to the Hon. Alfredo Martinez/Chan Pine Ridge Airstrip? We beg Minister Aragon to help us answer these deafening questions and thus end the speculative attitude against him that many villagers have now started to cultivate and shape.
As my beautiful Chan Pine Ridge prepares to celebrate our very own cabo de año under the “stewardship” of Minister Aragon, I challenge our Area Representative to reflect on his commitment or lack thereof he has had towards our village during his first year as our Area Representative. Minister Aragon needs to contemplate his unwillingness and quite conceivably his inability to cement any assistance, project, or opportunity in our village and to come to his full senses that indeed our cabo de año celebration is unquestionably justifiable! It’s high time that you, Mr. Minister, put deeds into your words!
Yours for social justice,
Germán Tzul (signed)
Teacher / Cane farmer / Councilor (Chan Pine Ridge Village Council)