To say that this year, 2021, was a tumultuous year would be a gross understatement. Last year, around this time, we offered our best hopes and well wishes that this 2021 would have been a great year. Resolutions were made and fervent hopes were expressed that great things would spring anew. We believed with hopeful hearts that this 2021 would have been a great year, a year of wonder — our year. But contrary to our best hopes and well wishes for this year, 2021 was a tempestuous and turbulent year: a year of reckoning! This year the ails and plagues that were incipient in 2020 were further exacerbated and proliferated throughout 2021. And as the end of this year draws nigh, all things considered, 2021 was weighed in the balance and found wanting!
Throughout this year, the country continued to grapple with the effects of Covid-19. Marred by a deadly and highly contagious Delta variant, the country soon found itself facing a deadly third wave of the virus. Infection rates soared, propelling a dangerously high hospitalization rate which in turn contributed to many more souls being lost to this virus. Contrary to how the pundits may spin it, the third wave of the Covid-19 virus in Belize was poorly and perfunctorily handled. Infections, hospitalizations and the death toll rose steadily during that wave. And the little and ineffective measures that were enacted to stem the spread of the virus yielded little to no results, and we simply had to ride it out the best way we knew how.
On the matter of the economy, admittedly, even myself was stunned. Economically, the country performed fairly well. All things considered, one would expect no less, given the well-learned and astute economic czar that sits high in the Ministry of Finance. If nothing else, the country’s economic state improved significantly this year, but we are still plagued by economic ails. Teachers and public servants who, when combined, equate to a large chunk of the employment pool, are still feeling the pinch. That 10% salary reduction coupled with the increment freeze is contributing to the economic bounce-back of the country, but the proletariats of the country are taking a lick! The meager $100 Christmas bonus barely afforded them a decent Christmas dinner, and it was a blue, blue Christmas as the masses continue to suffer.
On the employment front, with more lax restrictions and a gradual return of tourism, unemployment has been slowly trending downwards. That, however, doesn’t negate the fact that many thousands of people are still without work and many thousands more are grappling with underemployment and reduced salaries and wages. Poverty continues to plague us this year, and thousands of families are still going to bed hungry and lacking the basic supplies and necessities for their sustenance and survival. Yes, as a country, the economy improved. But the masses of the people who were flung into the poverty pool continue to wallow in indigence and penury! Destitution has plagued us, and this year, poverty remains a real issue as many remain below the fighting line and many more are at risk of falling under.
Despite a protracted curfew and quarantine orders as a result of the pandemic, crime and violence continued to plague us this year and have rocked us to our core. This year saw an alarming number of murders and heinous acts of violence. Crimes perpetrated against our youths and young people this year were astounding, and the severity of the violence was disheartening. Law enforcement struggled to keep up and avert a lot of these major crimes and, despite having the curfew to their advantage, crime and violence continued unabated in 2021. Conviction rates remain disproportionately low, and although many more boots were just added on the ground for the Police Department, these persons still require requisite training and appropriate crime-fighting materials and tools, coupled with the necessary skills and aptitude to get a hold of crime in Belize.
Overall, this year 2021 has been a hard and challenging year. Many thousands of people struggled to find work. Many thousands more are working but are struggling to make ends meet as a result of being underemployed or being placed on a reduced salary. Poverty continues to plague us and thousands of families are struggling to even put food on the table while thousands more too often go to bed without. Our nation’s children are still out of school and the pedagogical gap is being disproportionately widened. Many people were infected with and affected by Covid-19; some of whom even lost their lives. Crime and violence continue to plague us, and our country lacks the very rudimentary thing that can unify us: love. When put all together, all things considered, this year, 2021, was weighed in the balance and found wanting.
Unchained Reflections Of A Liberal Pragmatist.