Money is a very powerful commodity. Money can make people change their beliefs and their behavior. It had appeared to Belizean people during the administrations of the Jesuit-trained Rt. Hon. George Price and Rt. Hon. Manuel Esquivel that these two leaders, our first two Prime Ministers, were not in it for the money. Things began to change in Belize in 1989. Yet, the contrary results of the 1993 general election, in which the PUP’s big money was defeated by an almost ramshackle UDP/NABR coalition, suggested that money, as such, still did not decide elections here on its own.
We have been saying to you for some time that the two-party system in Belize suits the wealthy power structure, what we call the “oligarchy.” The present system is pleasing to the rich people. With respect to philosophy and policies, there is not that much difference between the United Democratic Party (UDP) and the People’s United Party (PUP) today. The PUP threw money around when they were in office from 1998 to 2008: they lived for today, and did not worry about tomorrow. The UDP was elected on a platform of fiscal frugality, which appeared necessary because Belize had entered a debt crisis. So, there are differences in style and approaches between the UDP and the PUP. But they, the political leaders of our sovereign nation, both depend on the goodwill of the rich – the local oligarchy and friendly foreign governments. Belize is a beggar nation.
The masses of the Belizean people have many complaints about the way things have been going in Belize since independence in 1981. Between 1984 and 1998, the Belizean people changed governments in every single general election. But then, in 2003 the people gave Said Musa’s PUP a second term. And then in 2012, the people gave Dean Barrow’s UDP a second term.
In this essay, we want to look at roots initiatives emerging from the base of Belize’s socio-pyramid. Way back in 1950, the original PUP was generally considered a roots initiative emerging from the base of Belize’s socio-pyramid. The original PUP was built on the foundation of the General Workers Union (GWU). The money people in Belize at the time, except for Robert Sydney Turton, were all in opposition to the PUP. The 2014 PUP, however, cannot be considered a “roots initiative.” But we will leave that as it is, for now.
In the last decade or so, several roots socio-political initiatives have sprung up, mostly around specific issues, in Belize. It is relatively easy to gain access to Belize’s electronic media, there are so many of them in the third millennium. But if you want your roots initiative to survive, grow and become stronger, what you will need is money. By definition, however, a roots initiative involves mostly people without wads of money. Some roots initiatives have sources of financing which they keep as their secret. Others have to solicit financial assistance openly and regularly.
In the process of acquiring financial help, roots initiatives immediately encounter problems they did not anticipate. How do you safeguard the money? How do you keep track of the money? What kind of records do you keep so that you can account for the money down the road? The leaders of most roots initiatives enjoy working with their people: they don’t want to be bothered with banking and accounting procedures. So, roots leaders often begin handling the money belonging to the roots initiatives as if it is their own. Mistake. If the leaders do not themselves become careless or corrupt, those who are a notch beneath them in the structure often become tempted.
Money is a problem in roots initiatives because most often there is none. But, money becomes an even bigger problem when roots initiatives actually begin to attract financial support.
In the first phase of a roots initiative, attacks will immediately be made by the two major political parties, because every movement of people, even those below voting age, has electoral implications in political constituencies. If the roots initiative survives the PUDP attacks, then their problem becomes money. No money is a problem. Some money, handling of same, is a bigger problem.
Bankers rule the world. They always have money. That is their professional duty – having liquidity available. Most people are always in need of money. Money makes the world go round. Money is the great weapon of the oligarchy. If they can’t buy the leaders, they can often buy those around them. Money is a very powerful commodity.
Scientific socialists would disdain Belize’s roots initiatives as reformist, because these initiatives do not aim to change our political and economic system. Josef Stalin was a revolutionary: he robbed banks. So did Daniel Ortega. There are no such people in Belize. The oligarchy is safe. They control the money.