Features — 09 September 2017
Right to the Point

Pro-corruption supporters emboldened

“The accomplice to the crime of corruption is frequently our own indifference.” – Bess Myerson

I had seen a notice that the PUP were holding an anti-corruption march in Orange Walk and wanted to attend. I wanted to attend because I am tired of the passive nature of our people in the face of all this corruption and it’s like at the core we are all corrupt and are comfortable in it. I honestly did not mind that it was a political party that was doing it, even though I am not a supporter of that party and really have only had a card membership in the United Democratic Party. Nevertheless, I am fully aware that Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition needs to act, otherwise it is best they be removed as the official opposition in our government, as they too form part of our system of governance and cannot continue to fail us in denouncing the ills and corruption of this Barrow/Vega/Faber administration.

I know lots of people cannot appreciate this finer point of our governance because they are too caught up in the divide-and rule political tribalism… but I am beyond that… I can stand with the PUP against corruption in a rally, and I know that my standing alongside them does not mean I join their party or even would wish to be a card-carrying member. I would join them on the one issue where we meet agreement and that is on the issue of corruption. You see, I can stand with the PUP against corruption and stand against them in any wrong they have done and do, and I have stood against them, against their corruption and campaigned to see them out of office in 2008 and before that.

Likewise, I fought with the UDP while they were in opposition after they lost the 1998 election because of their own corruption, but I had to stand with them because they promised reform and then, like now, Dean Barrow had promised to have his machete ready to cut off the head of corruption as soon as it reared is ugly head…. But he never bought the machete and I am yet to buy one for him! But not because I stood with the UDP against the ills and corruption of the PUP it means that I cannot stand against the UDP when they too have fallen into the very same ills and corruption that once swept them out of office and also swept the PUP out of office. Corruption by any party is still corruption and our people really need to take off their political blinders. As voters and right-thinking members of society, we need to appreciate that our alliances with any political party are temporary and for the moment are only to our interest when we have the same goals as theirs. So if our goal is anti-corruption, we stand with them, but when they too become corrupt we stand against them and align ourselves with whomever is fighting their corruption then. There is no loyalty to the corrupt agents, only loyalty to what is right and good for country. Sadly, it seems my people are yet to learn that!

For God’s intervention, a personal setback occurred that did not allow me to attend the anti-corruption rally and I just went with the flow as things happen. However, the morning of the rally, I subsequently found out that the ruling UDP was actually holding a counter-rally to the PUP’s anti-corruption rally and I became very much concerned and realized that God knows best why I should not be there. In effect, what the UDP did when they countered the anti-corruption rally, is that they had a pro-corruption rally and that is a sign of how emboldened they have become about the corruption in this country and how “in- your-face” the likes of Gapi Vega and his “40 Thieves” are.

Corruption not a big deal

Sadly, the issue of corruption cannot be discussed soberly in Belize, because I believe that innately we have a culture of corruption and our people believe they can only survive with corruption. You see, corruption is not only when Vega pulls off a land deal and pays off his son almost half million of our tax dollars in one swipe, or when bloated contracts are given for poorly constructed roads: it is also when the average man doesn’t want to pay their land tax and gets a friend to undervalue their property, or when a person knows they do not qualify for a job but asks the Minister to put in a word for him and so they got the job. I can give countless examples of our corrupt nature as Belizeans and so we, in large part, are to blame for the now entrenched mode of corruption of any government we elect and continue to support despite their corrupt ways, because their ways are our ways. Did you see the masses of Belizeans come out and support the teachers when they stood against corruption? On the contrary, some of the very same so-called educated teachers fought against their own and held forth in classrooms and showed their preference of party over country! Imagine, we have reached the point where we cannot get the police to act to investigate corrupt leaders, but instead shield them. Did you see how the police, knowing the UDP/Vega crowd did not have a permit to protest, barricaded and protected his people???? That is because even the police are corrupt!

Of recent the Elvin Penner saga and corruption was the perfect example of the new norm of how police operate when dealing with corrupt leaders. The Supreme Court had to issue a mandamus to Commissioner of Police Allen Whylie to act to investigate Penner’s involvement in the issuing of a passport to Citizen Kim while Kim could have never set foot in Belize as he was sitting in a jail in Taiwan seeking to avoid deportation to his country of origin and thus, if he claimed Belizean citizenship he would have then been deported to Belize instead and not face his criminal charges in his country.

But even more recent is the case of Gaspar Vega and his family regarding the land scams. So far, what has been uncovered is a land scam where government, through Minister Gaspar Vega, issued private land owned by some other person to one of his cronies, in the first known case, to his son Andre Vega, and then pretended not to realize that the government had no authority to even sell him that land. So the Government then turns around and compensates Vega’s son $400,000.00 of our taxpayers’ money. Instead of bringing criminal charges against him, Dean Barrow as Party Leader and Minister of Finance, instead allows Gaspar Vega to resign with the hope that these issues will just disappear, but instead what has appeared is yet another land scandal with the Vegas’ name called again. This time involving Amy Forte, who denies doing the alleged land transaction. Even with Vega’s signature on the documents he is yet to be held accountable and now he is giving interviews indicating he would return to politics and run for office again and assure us the people would vote for him! My Lord, then it’s the people who like the corruption! These land scams are only the tip of the iceberg as more such land scams are being uncovered. As Dean Barrow warned, Lands Department is a “hot bed of corruption”!

As these new corrupt deals are being unravelled, the Senate Select Committee is still holding sittings purportedly investigating the Auditor General’s report that deals with 55 thousand passports that seem to have been issued under not legitimate circumstances and in default of compliance with the proper checks and balances, and again the names of Ministers such as Dean Barrow, Edmond Castro, Boots Martinez, Elvin Penner and officials such as Carlos Perdomo, Michael Peyrefitte, Ruth Meighan and more have been mentioned.

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