Features — 22 October 2016 — by Bilal Morris
With Or Without You: Belize’s BNTU!

When the words of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King comes back to haunt many of us human beings across this globe that, “silence is betrayal”, we begin to find our bearings that we must take on the challenge to resist wrong, no matter where it is, to stand on the side of the poor, the oppressed, and dispossessed in any society including Belize. And as Dr. King would say, “injustice anywhere, is injustice everywhere.”

The present struggle of resistance by Belize’s National Teachers Union, (B.N.T.U), against the Barrow administration and the stream of corruption that has engulfed the Belizean nation state over the three terms of its government has now begun to weaken the bonds of what once appeared to be a strong mandate. It has begun to become a show of declining confidence exemplified by the backbone of the Belizean electorate, a strong union that is an amalgamation of teachers, civil society, and the underserved people of Belizean society.

It is in this spirit of resistance that the Belize diaspora organization, BREDAA, joins the voices of dissent against what is clear to see from any angle you look at it: something seriously wrong with Belizean society in terms of “good governance” and service to its full mass of 300,000 citizens (rather than the greedy quest of a few).

All the evidence of corruption and poor checks and balances are visible, and they expose a corrupt group of people who were elected to serve and not to plunder, rape, and steal a mandate that was justly given through “one man one vote.” But obviously in such parliamentary democracies like Belize and in other parts of the Caribbean and Central America, it appears to be that it is a corrupt system of governance that has continued to betray the people’s sincerity, and has turned the system into “one man and woman without no vote.”

For many a Belizean electorate, the question today is — as it is for their their peers in the United States and elsewhere: why vote for them when that becomes a signal for corruption. It is the same crisis that is confronting Belize’s neighbor to the North, the United States, when both of its candidates in its presidential elections appear to have no credibility and have a very poor show of confidence among its electorate, that is, its people.

It appears, too that the Barrow administration and its weak opposition has become two of the same, and their state of credibility with the people has eroded so fast that it has begin to appear that it is a government that is going out of power as fast as it once came in. All signs are pointing to this regardless of the fact that if you go and see how it operates on the ground in real time it appears that all is well and it’s a government that is functioning, whether on a thin line of scarcity or a false apparatus of borrow and spend, tax and cut, across the board.

When the Belizean electorate, including its diaspora, takes stock of the immigration corruption that continues to run rampant, the Ashcroft boogieman who demands through litigation some $500 million dollars in U.S. currency, obvious corruption among ministers of government, a failed foreign policy against the Guatemalan military oligarchy aggression in its claim to Belize, the heinous crimes of brutality inflicted by its citizens and non-citizens against the other, creeping devaluation of the Belizean dollar, poor quality of education, high cost of living, deep importation of disease-soaked food from abroad that puts pressure on a struggling health system, and a Commander-In-Chief who appears to be having problems in disciplining a run away cabinet, they see a remedy for disaster and poor confidence in that government to rule.

It appears that the Belize Prime Minister, Dean Oliver Barrow, wants good for people and country, but he must adopt Machavelli’s Principle, and must become harsh as a means to be kind. He has got to send a serious message to his bankrupt cabinet that he must stand with the people over their lust for power and worldly desires.

He must say to them that it is the people who had given his government that mandate of confidence to rule and therefore it is the people of Belize who have the power and not them. He must therefore then begin to find some common ground with the list of demands presented by the most powerful union in the country of Belize, the BNTU, and begin to embrace these demands not as an aggression against his government but a test of faith on his ability to rule.

The power belongs to the people. It has been taken away from them through a system of poor governance. Let the Prime Minister of Belize restore that power back to the people of Belize. Until then, it appears that presently in Belize, where there is no justice, there will be no peace. The BNTU resistance to all this, then, should continue.

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