BELIZE CITY, Tues. Sept. 22, 2015–The Opposition People’s United Party leader, Hon. Francis Fonseca, in his brief Independence Day address, spoke about national unity, sovereignty, and the challenge of independence, as defined by the Rt. Hon. George Cadle Price, Belize’s Father of Independence.
“Belize has claimed its place in the global community as a proud, sovereign nation deeply committed to justice and equality for all people,” Hon. Fonseca said.
Hon. Fonseca, whose party has lost all elections since 2008, and is faced with early general elections, used the national platform his Independence Day address afforded him, to highlight governance reform.
Before making the call for governance reform, however, the Leader of the Opposition said, “Nation- building is not about wishful thinking; it is about hard work, commitment and participation. Each of us, as citizens of our beloved Belize, has a duty and obligation to be engaged in its growth and development. This, after all, is the central message of independence. One nation, one people, united to build a strong society in which hope and opportunity abound.”
“The spirit of unity and sense of purpose was on full display for all the world to see just a month ago, on August 16, when a group of some 200 Belizeans, under the banner of the Belize Territorial Volunteers, gathered in Barranco, Toledo, and journeyed to the southernmost boundary of Belize on the Sarstoon. This journey was a peaceful, powerful statement, that Belize, all of Belize from Rio Hondo to Sarstoon, from our cayes and atolls to our western border is ours to protect and defend, a clear, strong message of unity and determination in the face of the unfounded Guatemalan claim,” Hon. Fonseca declared.
He added, “I repeat today what I said only last year on this occasion: Without the ability to quickly reach our borders, patrol our seas and safeguard our natural resources, proclaiming our sovereignty and territorial integrity risk becoming nothing more than empty, clamorous rhetoric.”
Hon. Fonseca, before delving into the thesis of his demand for governance reform said, “34 years into independence our efforts to combat poverty and inequality demand and require an equal sense of purpose and unity; true development calls for profound, qualitative change, not only of the economy but also of the society.”
He went on to state, “The United Democratic Party government of Prime Minister Dean O. Barrow has spent the first term in office without implementing the core reforms it has promised in 2008, before it triumphed at the polls, and now, deep into its second term, there has still been no reform of the governance structure. Throughout its term in office, there has been no Integrity Commission, and the 13th Senator which was signed into an amended Belize Constitution has still not been implemented and is now facing its second challenge in the Supreme Court.”
In addressing the issue of governance, Hon. Fonseca remarked, “Central to change is governance reform. Governance is the hallmark of a peaceful, just society and is fundamental to eradicating poverty and corruption, bringing about economic growth and social progress. It is concerned with the rules, regulations and procedures that apply to the decision-making process.”
Decisions made in our governance system and structures determine how the collective wealth and resources of the nation are managed and allocated and ultimately, the quality of life of each and every Belizean, he said.
“Thirty-four years after independence, 17 years of PUP and 17 years of UDP, our responsibility and obligation is to work together in good faith, to change, improve and strengthen the failing systems and structures we have in place to govern and develop Belize. On this Independence Day, let us embrace governance reform by committing to the appointment of the 13th Senator, to reactivating the Integrity Commission and to restructuring the Public Accounts Committee.
“On this 21st day of September, let us resolve our commitment as a nation and people to build a society based upon equality, justice and opportunity. This must not only be our hope and dream; it must be the foundation of who we are as a people,” Hon. Fonseca said.
Hon. Fonseca went on to quote the September 10, 1962 address of then Premier George Price: “Full internal self-government and independence are neither easily achieved nor successfully maintained without great effort on our part. We must work harder, produce more and improve our skills more quickly and extensively.”