I have been following the dialogue and discourse between Major Lloyd Jones and members of the Belizean Diaspora regarding the responsibilities and political aspirations of the latter, not quite certain that I should join in the fray. This is a very complex issue, and there is no simple cut and dried answer which will resolve it. As a member of the Belizean Diaspora, I may be in danger of losing my Diaspora card, and come under attack by other members of the Diaspora, for agreeing with the Major: Dual citizens should not hold elected political office in Belize. To put it in American terms, dual citizens do not have enough skin in the game.
I’m certain that just about every member of the Belizean Diaspora can offer at least one reason (which they consider valid) why they should be exonerated for abandoning Belize and residing in another country – the excuses run the gamut from economics, education and family, to religious and political. In most cases we found what we were looking for, but in the process, we lost our nation. The fact of the matter is that we cut and ran; abdicating the responsibility of nation-building, and now some of us want to have our cake and eat it too. We wish to continue living our American Dream, while running for political office in the land we deserted, usually for economic gains. I believe that members of the Belizean Diaspora who wish to hold political office in Belize, should move back to Belize and renounce their non-Belizean citizenship – life and politics are already too complicated without attempting to serve two masters at the same time.
The Belizean Diaspora is guilty of being disorganized, disjointed and apathetic towards the plight of Belize. This is true for the majority of the Diaspora, as we find it difficult to care about little else except the pursuit of our American Dream; how many of us actually vote in American elections? There are some of us, however, who keep apprised of events in Belize; hoping desperately that The Jewel will not be completely tarnished before we get the opportunity to retire in Belize with our American pensions. We watch in horror as the crime and politics in Belize continue to worsen, and we question whether we really want to retire in Belize. As members of the Diaspora, our first step towards organizing and uniting is to accept the fact that we left our country for selfish reasons; that is a very distasteful pill to swallow, but until we can look in the mirror and admit our fault, we cannot move forward as a unified, influential community.
I have always admired Belizeans who, for whatever reasons, decided to stay in Belize and make the best of it; if they could do it, then why couldn’t we? Perhaps if we had stayed, then Belize would have a much better quality of policy makers instead of the self-serving narcissists who call themselves politicians. The Major asks the question, “Why should we grant political power to those who do not have to remain in Belize to live with the consequences of their political decisions?”; however, I find that question to be ironic, because Belizeans have granted political power to politicians who remain in Belize, but do not have to live with the consequences of their actions. Instead of being servants of the people, the politicians behave as if they are lords of the people, and are beyond the laws of Belize. In Belize, justice may be blind, but she has an acute sense of smell, and she abhors the smell of the poor and disenfranchised.
The one universal truth about the Diaspora is that our remittances are essential to the economy of Belize; without those remittances, the GDP of Belize would be adversely affected and life for many would be pure hell. Remittances seem to be our only saving grace, so perhaps we should find a way to use that in our favor. I have no education in political science, but since money is the only good thing the Diaspora is known for, then why can’t we create a Political Action Committee to provide funding for the type of candidates who are more in tune with the views of the Diaspora? The majority of the Diaspora agrees that the current two-party system in Belize is detrimental to the long-term survival and integrity of Belize. We have watched with great alarm as both UDP and PUP administrations continue the pillaging of Belize’s natural resources and integrity, and indulge in activities which cause Belize to be ridiculed on the world stage. It is like watching a train wreck, as Belize continues to slide down a long slippery slope to implosion, gaining momentum with each passing year. Belize has been set on a path to self-destruction, but we are praying for a miracle to happen and for the course to change. A Political Action Committee financed by the Diaspora could work in conjunction with a local Belizean political party that is truly nationalistic, and places the concerns of Belize and Belizeans before the concerns of the party; instead of waiting for a chance to gorge at the public trough.
I don’t know the political persuasion of Major Lloyd Jones, but if he is aligned with one of the two major parties, then we have no choice but to question his motives.
I do not agree with the Major that the Diaspora is solely responsible for the Americanization of Belize. That process began with the advent of television in the ‘80s and has since been accelerated by the Internet; needless to say, Belize is not the only country that emulates America. As members of the Belizean Diaspora, we should not engage the Major in the battle of whether we deserted Belize, or why. That ship has already sailed; the fact is we left. This should be a wake-up call for us to organize, unite and make an attempt to rescue Belize before she slides completely into ignominy.
The Major accuses us of being silent in the face of the many challenges and scandals confronting Belize; the fact is we have not been silent. But because we are not organized and united, it seems as if we are spitting into the wind.