Despotic regimes, in the end, collapse internally. The Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, referred to as the Conducator or “Leader,” ruled through terror and a state-sponsored personality cult. He stood on a balcony in Palace Square in Bucharest on December 20, 1989, before a crowd of one hundred and ten thousand people bused in from factories and offices or press-ganged off the streets of the capital by the Securitate, the state security apparatus. Ceausescu, with his wife Elena at his side, walked out and stood before the crowd at 12:31 in the afternoon and began to speak into a bank of four microphones. The rally of adulation for the leader began the way countless events in the past had begun. There were cheers and applause. But eight minutes into his speech, there were faint sounds of booing and catcalls and a steady chant of TI-MI-SOA-RA, the name of the city where the regime had launched a bloody crackdown on protestors. Ceausescu looked first confused and then frightened as crowds for the first time began to shout him down with the words: “Ceausescu, we are the People!” and “Down with the Killer!” He stopped speaking and hastily ended his speech. He and his wife attempted to flee the city in a helicopter, but they were captured and executed four days later by a firing squad.
– pgs. 241, 242,DAYS OF DESTRUCTION, DAYS OF REVOLT, by Chris Hedges and Joe Sacco, Vintage Canada, 2013
The moment the Belize Ministry of Education announced late Tuesday evening this week that the teachers of Belize, who had just ended eleven days of industrial action demanding good governance, would not be paid for their days on strike, the leaderships of the Public Service Union (PSU) and the Association of Public Service Senior Managers (APSSM) should have swung into action.
After all, the memberships of these two unions, which had been conspicuous by their absence of street support for the Belize National Teachers Unions (BNTU) during the teachers’ strike, had benefited financially from the brave stand taken by the teachers.
The water, electricity, and telecommunications unions, under the umbrella of the National Trade Union Congress of Belize (NTUCB), had not benefited financially, because they are not government workers as such, but they too should have moved to back the teachers, as a matter of principle. The corrupt Government of Belize, which has now been caught brazenly embezzling public funds at the highest levels of their Cabinet leadership, absolutely needed to be put on notice that the working people of Belize, the taxpayers of Belize, do not have rings in their noses.
Immediately the teachers had begun to mobilize and threaten industrial action, the United Democratic Party (UDP) Government of Belize, primarily through their privately owned newspaper, and their radio and television stations, which are heavily financed by taxpayers’ moneys, began to brand and condemn the BNTU leadership as People’s United Party (PUP) operatives, and the UDP organs declared that the BNTU’s aim was to topple the Dean Barrow administration elected to office on November 4, 2015. The UDP propaganda essentially described the masses of Belize’s teachers as dupes of their national leadership.
Now, beloved, let us suppose, just for argument’s sake, that everything the UDP was saying was true. Let us then say that the PSU, the APSSM, and the NTUCB were well-advised not to support the teachers in their industrial action. Today, Thursday, October 20, the PSU, the APSSM, and the NTUCB have no excuse not to raise their voices in support of their brother and sister workers where the matter of their strike pay is concerned. They have no such excuse, because the UDP government they hold so dear, is safe. This government of much ballyhooed honesty, transparency, and accountability, is firmly in power, with all their state security forces in full support of their dirty schemes. PSU, APSSM, and NTUCB, you therefore have no excuse not to support the teachers in the strike pay matter.
As to the Senate Select Committee to investigate the crimes in the Immigration Department exposed by the recently tabled Auditor General’s Report, the machinations carried out by the sanctimonious UDP government to ensure that the Senate inquiry was controlled by themselves should have been loudly denounced by the PSU, the APSSM, and the NTUCB. Yes, the 2005 Social Security Board (SSB) inquiry eleven years ago did not succeed in indicting and imprisoning anyone, but it exposed almost everything the people of Belize needed to know about People’s United Party (PUP) government corruption involving social security funds. The reason that 2005 inquiry did not punish culprits was because the government system in Belize is a monarchical one, structured to protect both the Government of Belize and Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition, whichever of the two major parties serves as such at any given time, from the wrath of the oppressed people of Belize. Something the elite attorneys call “natural justice” protects all PUDP thieves from the fate they deserve.
The 2005 SSB Senate Inquiry, then, did not fail. What failed to produce justice was Belize’s Buckingham Palace system of governance. We do feel we speak for most Belizeans when we say we would have been satisfied with the 2005 format for this 2016 Senate Inquiry – the 2005 format being three social partners, one PUP, and one UDP. (In the case of the 2005 inquiry, the then Opposition UDP actually chose to boycott it, but the three social partner Senators got the job done.)
The Prime Minister arbitrarily chose to change the 2005 format, because that inquiry had been deadly for the ruling PUP at the time. First, the Prime Minister came up with a proposal for a bi-cameral inquiry (Senate plus House of Representatives), but that trial balloon was soon burst.
Prime Minister Barrow’s ruling party, meanwhile, had gained control of the Senator for the Council of Churches. The evidence indicates that Senator Ashley Rocke will vote how the Prime Minister wants. The new Senate Select Inquiry format, which has three social partners, two UDP, and one PUP, in functional reality has two social partners, three UDP, and one PUP. Do the math for yourself. Rocke is demonstrably UDP. This means that when there is a critical decision to be made by the 2016 inquiry, there will be deadlock in the Senate chambers – three versus three.
(NOTE: Subsequent to our writing this editorial early Thursday morning, October 20, we are informed that because one of the two UDP Senators, Aldo Salazar, has become the chairman of the inquiry, he has no vote in the normal course of things. He would only have a casting vote in case of a tie, but since the number of Senate Select Inquiry members is now five, an uneven number, only in the event of an abstention could there be a tie vote. Old-time roots Belizeans would say, “Tu much pork meat fu five cents.”)
In any case, no matter how befuddled or suborned the other unions may be, the emergence of the BNTU as an independent force in Belize’s governance system is very good news for true Belizean nationalists. The BNTU learned something between 2005 and 2016 which this newspaper learned between 1979 and 1984. The circus never changes: the people are only allowed to change the clowns.
For the circus to change, the constitution has to change. In the meantime and in between time, as it is said, we want to say this one more time to the UDP, which initiated violence in Santa Elena on Tuesday and contemplated violence in Belize City at the same time: ruling party violence is the refuge of cowards and idiots. What you rush to do when you are in power, you are afraid to do when you are without the protection of state security. This message goes to the self-righteous ones at the very top.
Power to the people.