Features — 24 January 2018
Rebels and negotiators

I had my columns well set up for the week, until I read the Reporter and the Guardian. The Belize Times was a no show Friday afternoon in Belmopan. I wonder what the heck is going on with Rudon. Really, this columnist doesn’t need this. There are so many absorbing stories in Belize to write about. And then some people go and spoil things.

Someone has to have a chat with Clinton Canul Luna. What, he went to look at a Mayan sculpture in Guatemala in 1997, and registered himself as a national? And this Mr. Orosco, who gave him the right to deny the paternal rights of a man who lived with his mom for 20 years. Agh, yu can’t write if yu have to spit. Yu have to spit first.

Spitting, spitting, spitting, you know that spitting is what made some Belizeans feel a little way towards Guatemalans. Ai, Hugo, and we children from the neighborhood still used to buy his polgorong. Miss Cas, and Alamilla, their shops weren’t that much farther away. But we couldn’t pass Hugo if the door to his shop was open. When yu want yu polgorong yu want it quick.

Oh, in the 60’s & 70’s (1900’s) there was a little “stereotype” that people from Guatemala didn’t mind spitting on the floor, in the bus, whenever/wherever dehn feel like du it.

Since the CCJ ruled on the UHS, there have been some very interesting editorials coming out of the Reporter. The first half, no, three-quarters of the editorials, at least, is defiant and not too respectful of the law. The second half, or quarter of the editorials, is much toned down, practical, and somewhat less disrespectful of the rule of law. It is somewhat like a tale being told by two editors.

Last Friday, in the first part of the Reporter’s editorial, the writer says that, “Those who feel that Belize is morally bound to carry this huge debt (UHS) on its back are like the loyalists at the time of King George III, who would rather yield to servitude than take any action which would brand them as rebels, disrespectful of legal and constituted authority … the order of the CCJ, that Belize must find $90 million to pay the Belize Bank for a loan which was concocted in secrecy, without the authority and consent of the National Assembly for a private investment project, is not much different from the tyranny that so upset the Founding Fathers (American).”

My fellow Belizeans at the Reporter, if you don’t respect a court you shouldn’t go there. We can recall the USA ignoring a ruling the ICJ made in a case that Nicaragua brought against them. The USA had declared that the ICJ didn’t have the jurisdiction to handle the matter.

A gambler who enters a game of craps, knowing full well that the dice are loaded, either swallows his losses or becomes erratic. Individuals are unlike the collective. An individual only has one key to wisdom, while the collective has all the heads to draw from. It is no surprise when an individual pulls out a weapon and acts crazy.

Individuals have been known to lose it in court. They don’t like a ruling so they go after the judge. Belize hasn’t forgotten that Charlie Good tried to take out Magistrate Yakub Gaznabbi, because he thought Gaznabbi was dealing with him harshly on a matter that he, Good, was having with his ex-common law wife.

When we saw all of those representatives filing out of a room and declaring, “No, we’re going to vote no,” we were witnessing a G-7ish kind of moment. One of the big differences is that none of the naysayers project anywhere without their leader, Barrow. They are good for their area and not much more.

The very interesting party who was interviewed during the defiant “no”, is the lady, Mrs. Tracy Taegar Panton. She looked absolutely bewildered when she said she hadn’t made up her mind. Recall that Barrow, while sounding like a “no”, had said that some thinking was still in the offing.

I bet Mrs. Panton is having some sleepless nights. Ah, to fall in with rebel colegas, or to respect the law, that is the question.

A name can be a heavy weight for a person. In British culture, females who marry, take the names of their spouses. When Miss Tracy votes, she will be carrying the name, Panton. There have been some Pantons who have earned the respect and love of many in this nation. None of them have made a name in the political arena. To my knowledge, none have even tried to.

The name, Taegar, is a very different story. There have been a number of educated, well-spoken, independent-thinking, outspoken people who have become household names in Belize. A few names that jump out are Godwin Hulse and Sandra Coye, and Miss Tracy’s late dad, Dr. Leroy. There is legacy here. You can bet that when Miss Tracy votes, her dad will be very much in her mind.

There is a party who shouldn’t be a bystander in this saga. The Amandala has mentioned the names of five people who are founding members of the Liberal Party – Vasquez, Esquivel, Rodriguez, Lawrence, and Thompson. Remember they joined with other parties to form the UDP in 1973, and during that party’s first two terms in office, it is this group that was ascendant.

We know that Rodriguez can’t see how the UDP reps will vote NO. Lawrence (if you follow the first 75% of the editorial in his newspaper) can’t see how they will vote YES. Thompson isn’t here anymore. Vasquez is a man who only utters on matters pertaining to BTL and telecommunications. That leaves us with the mighty Esquivel. His comments on this CCJ/UHS business might be buried deep somewhere in the Guardian, but as far as I know, Dr. Esquivel, former Leader of the UDP, two-term Prime Minister of Belize, has not said a peep about this pending vote.

In the first part of the Reporter’s editorial, the writer seems to absolve the present government, seems to make them out as victims, not part villains of this UHS piece. It calls for Area Reps to have no fear of being labeled as “disrespectful of legal and constituted authority.” Really, if the government were to do that it would need the support of the people. But they have squandered the love.

How many times over the last ten years have the people begged, pleaded with the government to stop running our country UDP first, first, first. This is a party that stomped on political reforms; this a party of loyalists of the status quo.

The UDP wanted to punish PUPeez who were after “making a retirement package for the boys”. But the UDP went after PUPeez even into the ranks of school wardens. And any independent who got in the way became “collateral damage.”

Dr. Leroy Taegar told us over two score years ago, that if we wanted a materially well-off nation, we had to create a national bank. Did UDP leaders ever stop working for private banks?

UDP leaders are saying that we don’t know a lot of the innards of the UHS deal, and that’s why we need an enquiry. What, you mean to say that we went to court short of facts? The stark fact is the UDP were so blinded with joy tears in their eyes as they lambasted fat PUPeez on their media, and put the squeeze on their businesses, they forgot to check our change.

The UDP did restore the DFC some, after the PUP bankrupted it, and they started a lending institution for public servants. I don’t know of anyone who says the UDP hasn’t done anything. But they squandered the PetroCaribe like Henry money kyaahn done. Braa, these were people enamored with cement!

I could go on. But let us move on to the last pronouncements of this Reporter editorial. Toward the end of the editorial it says, “Belize can and will manage this debt, onerous and unjust as it is! But we must have a memorandum of understanding setting a lid on the galloping interest accrual. This is not a subject for the CCJ. It is a matter for negotiation between GOB and Ashcroft, the Machiavellian genius who got us into this mess in the first place by demanding a Government guarantee which he knew was illegal and unconstitutional.”

Okay, we can’t ignore the jabs still being thrown at the CCJ. We really must stop disrespecting the court. But yes, absolutely, a lid must be set on the galloping interest accrual (UHS loan). And yes, it is a matter for negotiation between GoB and Ashcroft. We have to negotiate because we can’t afford to pay.

Ah, the UDP, ten years later, wants to do an enquiry into the UHS matter. Belizeans also have interest in another enquiry. Belizeans really want to know why a lid wasn’t put on (the interest) ten years back, and why we didn’t negotiate with Ashcroft or go to contested arbitration from the get go.

Quién sabe, after settling the matter we could have turned devil, turned the tables and pull the wily banker to court with an order that he give us back our money. We would have enjoyed that.

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Deshawn Swasey

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