12 October, 2015
Dear Editor Amandala,
Belize’s two political parties may have served out their purpose. They brought Belize to independence and laid the constitutional foundation of the nation. They have improved the basic systems human beings need – running water, sewers, electricity, more up to date government-funded hospitals, infrastructure for travel, transportation, commerce and modern means of communication within the country and with the outside world. They established tertiary education and grew a new industry, tourism. They were stopped short of developing a viable oil industry due to meager oil finds – to date.
However, today Belize is experiencing some serious times, the most serious in its history. The enemy is occupying the southern river border, claiming it as its own territory. How long this has been the case is anybody’s guess. Over the years both UDP and PUP, recently more so the UDP, appear to be stuck, at a loss as to how to resolve what’s hurting the nation most. For starters, the very existence of the nation has been endangered as its guardians nodded off at the wheel in respect to Guatemala’s claim. Adding to that, they’ve offered no cohesive national vision to build on. The lack of permanent living-wage employment for the masses continues to feed an ever-pervasive poverty. Politicians’ personal gains have surfaced as the goals to work towards. The latrines are gone but the filth continues to pile up. The recent House session in which elected officials shamelessly hurled accusations of nepotism and corruption back and forth across the aisle is the video that should have gone viral in worldwide media, not the rat in the hospital incubator. The rat is in the House.
The political parties have outlasted their usefulness. So what are a people to do? The nation is on the verge of electing another government. What will it be? The usual partying, flag-waving Reds and Blues jamming to loud music in the streets, getting high on pretense, hoping that when they finally open their eyes and look around everything will be honky dory, the southern border “rolled” back and all their troubles somehow magically having disappeared?
Many new leaders, men and women, have come forward within the last few weeks to form a new political party (BPP) to give the people a choice other than the monkey or the black dog. Some individuals in the past have stepped up to run as independents or represent a new party but got little support.
Maybe people thought it always was and always will be Red or Blue, even though they remain unhappy with both. They will aim for it, naturally, but know that a third party doesn’t have to start out being the majority party, or ever be the majority party for that matter. They just need enough seats to make a difference, to shut off the air to the rat incubator and give Belizeans a shot at a better government.
Many individuals have been speaking out for years, most of them saying the right things, but Belizeans seemed deaf. The civic group COLA has decided to take Belize down a new road, new at least for Belize, by publicly coming out against one candidate. Will more organized groups step up and play the same role, whether for or against a candidate? They would be doing the country a great service, helping to educate the people politically so they can use their vote wisely and effectively.
What will it be, Belize? I’m asking you who are losing out the most. When push comes to shove the politicians will be well taken care of. They have already seen to that. What will it be? I’m asking you, working man and woman, including you who are presently unhappy with your employment relationship with the government or quasi-government institutions and are using election time to get what you want. Don’t go back to life as usual after you get yours. I’m asking you, poor Belizean, what will it be? I see you busting your you-know-what every day in the fields north to south, in the markets, the cook shops and the roadside stands, even on foot, on the buses, peddling what you can to scratch out a living. I’m asking you, elder.
You have been around the longest, seen a lot. What will it be? Time to make a real difference is running out. I’m asking you, gangbanger. What will it be? You have the guts to use a gun to take lives. Find the guts to use your vote to save lives, to better your own life so you can come back to where you know you want to be. I’m asking you, prisoner sitting in jail waiting for trial. Use your vote for real change (at least I hope, having not yet been found guilty, you did not lose your right to vote when you got locked up and provisions will be made for you to exercise your right). I do hope someone will get this message to you.
What will it be? I’m asking you, youth. You expressed yourselves recently in a press release telling the government about your concerns, the crime, poverty, loss of young lives to violence and so on. Don’t let it end there. You need to be heard, to be encouraged and guided. Organize, organize, and organize some more. Talk is cheap; most times nobody listens. Get feet and bodies in the streets if you have to. You have to move fast; your chance to make a difference in a meaningful way is right around the corner. Become a voting force for what you want. Some may simply vote against what they don’t want. That’s okay. Young man, young woman, even if you are not old enough to vote, watch and learn. One day you will be choosing a government.
What will it be, Belize? Will you refuse to change, fail your own self, and return a party long past its usefulness to the seat of government? It would have been a good thing for the so-called G-11 to break away from the old PUP; that’s what it would take for a party to reinvent itself. Not even the new UDP and PUP aspirants in the coming election are to be trusted. It is not because their intentions and/or their integrity are in doubt. They have the interest of the country and people at heart as most do when they first enter politics.
The problem is that theirs will be an uphill battle going against the old party. Eventually, they will be overpowered by the culture and philosophy in which their respective parties are entrenched. This has happened to many. It is rare when such a politician sticks to principle. He or she falls in line and it is business as usual. The status quo is preserved.
Being only 34 years young Belize can change this state of affairs before it is too late. Many will be afraid of what they could lose if they take a stand. Those people are looking no farther than today. Consider what there is to gain for generations to come by taking a stand. To all who read this: if you are not part of the solution you are part of the problem.