41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.
42 For I was hungry, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink.
43 I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.
44 Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee hungry or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?
45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.
46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.
(MATTHEW: Chapter 25, Verses 41 to 46)
Some people say that all men are born equal, but it’s not true. Ideally, all human beings should have the same rights and opportunities, but all human beings are not born equal. In any field of endeavor, some humans will surge ahead of others, and that is because of intrinsic inequalities in gifts and talents.
No matter the intrinsic inequalities at birth, all human beings are headed towards the same destination. Human beings have the same needs during their mortal lives, and much the same desires. In Belize, as all over planet earth, there are many citizens whose needs are not being met, and these Belizeans are suffering. In Belize, as all over planet earth, there are people who have much more than they need, and for some reason such people are seldom satisfied: they are driven by greed. There are far more Belizeans who are in need than there are those who have in excess of money and resources and still want more.
To repeat, the needy are more numerous than the greedy. In a democratic election setting, then, where all registered adult citizens have the same franchise – one man, one vote, it should be that the needy are able to impose their collective will upon the greedy. After all, in Belize, we have free and fair elections, to the best of our knowledge.
The reason the needy come out of general elections without significant overall empowerment is because the greedy have been able to subvert Belize’s democratic system and use it to their own elitist advantage. In Belize, it has seemed more and more that at general election time, the greedy buy out the needy.
The buying out of the needy is a process which begins with control of the two major political parties. These parties cannot function without financing, and that is what the greedy have and what the needy do not. On general election day, the candidates which are presented by the two major political parties are individuals who have agreed to accept the community and societal status quo, and who are willing to abide by the accepted rules and obey instructions from above.
In August of 2004, Mark Espat and Cordel Hyde formed part of a group of seven People’s United Party (PUP) Cabinet Ministers who challenged the prevailing order of things. The challenge was sensational, but it did not last long. The power structure, however, felt that someone had to be made an example of, and that someone turned out to be Mark Espat. He was expelled from Cabinet on December 28, 2004, whereupon Cordel Hyde resigned from Cabinet in solidarity and in protest.
Remaining in the House of Representatives, Mark and Cordel, representing the people of the Albert and Lake Independence constituencies, respectively, took positions which reflected more of a concern for the needy than subservience to the greedy. For that reason, presumably, their constituencies returned them to office as PUP candidates in February of 2008 in a general election where the PUP won only six of Belize’s 31 seats. The other four PUP candidates who defended their seats were Fort George’s Said Musa; Orange Walk Central’s John Briceño; Freetown’s Francis Fonseca, and Corozal Southeast’s Florencio Marin, Jr., who was actually defending the seat his father had won in 2003.
The internal history of the PUP since that general election of February 2008 has been complex and turbulent. Power struggles have continued inside the PUP for the last seven years. The thing is that it was just four months after major leadership instability in the PUP in late 2011 that the party came within 75 votes of winning the March 2012 general election.
One lesson to be learned from March 2012, a post-independence lesson first presented on June 30 of 1993, is that the incumbent political parties in Belize are always vulnerable, no matter how shaky the party which is challenging them appears to be.
One supposes that this reality of incumbent vulnerability is a testament to the health of Belize’s electoral democracy. But, we are not so optimistic or happy at this newspaper as to so suppose. More and more since independence, it has seemed to us that these general elections are more competitions amongst the consolidated greedy than opportunities for the needy to change the established order.
In pre-independence Belize, the gap between the greedy and the needy was not as alarming as it is today. Whatever his faults, Mr. Price, the Maximum Leader of native Belize from 1956 to 1984, always had a real concern for the poor. Mr. Price used his office to control the rich and protect the poor. In fact, by the 1970s it appeared that Mr. Price had become a socialist.
Now, what do we mean by “socialist”? We mean that Mr. Price believed that the state, the government, should work to ensure that the natural inequalities amongst Belizeans did not become cancerous. In this respect, Mr. Price was a true Christian.
The neoliberal philosophy which swept the so-called “free world” in the 1990s, following the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and what some scholars saw as the collapse of communism in Russia, extolled the inequalities of human beings, institutionalized those inequalities as vehicles for national and international progress. Neoliberalism calls for the rich to be unencumbered by the state. Neoliberalism believes that it is only the investment activities of the rich which can empower the poor. Neoliberalism glorifies and institutionalizes human inequalities.
And yet, neoliberalism masquerades as a Christian philosophy. Everything we have read about Jesus Christ cries out to us that he was the complete opposite of a neoliberal. The economic philosophy of Belize’s two major political parties appears to us to be neoliberal. At this newspaper, we reject neoliberalism. It is a formula designed for the rich nations of the world to become richer and increase the impoverishment of poor countries. As Belize prepares for general elections, the political discussion focuses on personalities. This is as the oligarchy, which controls our political process, would have it. Until the Belizean people are politically educated, the greedy will continue to dominate our general election process.
Power to the people. Remember Danny. Fight for Belize.