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Sunday, January 26, 2020
Home Editorial Battering our democracy to hold on to power

Battering our democracy to hold on to power

In a year or so, Belize is going to the International Court of Justice, and you can bet that the judges there will be influenced by the kind of country that we are. Judges, they are only human. Too many members of the ruling United Democratic Party (UDP) brass either don’t care about this country, or they don’t understand why our image in the world is important to us. They are battering our democracy in their fight to hold on to power.

What happened last week at the Lake Independence constituency office of the standard bearer of the UDP, Mrs. Diane Finnegan, does not serve Belize well. There is a process in place for persons in Belize who want to become nationals of the country. All one has to do is go to the Immigration Office, and they will be told what are the steps to follow, the processes they need to go through to become a Belizean citizen.

There is everything right about helping our brothers and sisters who have difficulty understanding how the system works. Politicians don’t do Belize wrong when they provide assistance to persons who seek them out. Properly, if someone wants to know how to improve their status in Belize, that person is directed to the Immigration Office.

The standard bearer, Mrs. Finnegan, said the system is failing, and so she was helping out. She said that entertaining dozens of non-nationals at her office just months before the next general election had nothing to do with furthering her political ambitions. Such innocence belongs in a church.

So, the standard bearer feels that the system is failing. Quite likely one of the standard bearer’s backers/advisers is her husband, Hon. Michael Finnegan, the Minister of Housing and Mesopotamia area representative, and he is considered a master politician in most quarters. If she will have any success at the polls, it’s pretty basic strategy for the standard bearer to attack the faults of the party she is running for, because her party has been in government for three consecutive terms and her UDP has come up short in a number of areas.

It is a practice for our governments to manipulate the nation’s resources to try and win the confidence of targeted voters. You don’t have to be very smart to figure out why favors are given out in an election year. It’s simply because a favor is best remembered when it’s fresh. It is improper, beyond the pale, for politicians to use our citizenship to serve such an end. We must draw a line when citizenship becomes a commodity for politicians in power.

Persons who are interested in permanent residency or citizenship must be directed to the Immigration Department, where, after the proper processing is done, they will receive their permanent residency, if that is what they qualify for, or receive the precious rights of citizenship, if they meet all the requirements.

Disappointingly, no senior leader of the UDP called out their standard bearer for her very unseemly program. In fact, it is likely that her “helping out” had the blessing of all the members of the UDP. The Minister of State, Hon. Beverly Williams, whose portfolio includes immigration and refugees, reportedly promised to lend a hand¯reports are that she will, in effect, take the Immigration Department to the constituency of the UDP Lake I standard bearer.

The claim that the People’s United Party (PUP) did it (tampered with the immigration process when they were in office some years ago) is not sufficient excuse or justification for the UDP corrupting the system in 2020. The UDP needs to check itself. This is not the first time that the party has abused the system. Their most notorious exercise of this kind, previous to the one last week, was carried out by their former representative in Cayo North East, Mr. Elvin Penner. The full details of that dishonorable exercise will be revealed if/when the report of the Senate Select Committee on immigration sees the light of day.

Obviously, one of the aims of the standard bearer in last week’s ignoble maneuver was/is to pander to naturalized Belizeans who are from the Central American republics, and who are mostly Hispanic (Mestizo). Both aspirants for leadership of the United Democratic Party are Creoles (Kriols), and with the party’s highest ranking Mestizo leader, Hon. Gaspar Vega, being seriously disgraced in a number of scandals, the party may consider itself weak here.

The Mestizo/Hispanic group, particularly those who gained citizenship through naturalization, has been considered historically sympathetic to the People’s United Party, because it was under the PUP that a major amnesty program was put in place in the early 1980s. During the civil wars in El Salvador (1980-1992) and in Nicaragua (in the 1970s), and the genocidal war in Guatemala (1960-1996), many persons from these countries sought refuge in Belize and were granted safe haven.

The PUP also profited from having an unbroken reign during the self-government years, from 1964 to 1981. During this period many Belizeans got land under reform programs spearheaded by the PUP. It is natural that Belizeans who were given land or whose children received scholarships to study abroad have some gratitude to the party in power during the period. This gratitude was not evident in 1984 when the PUP was absolutely obliterated at the polls.

It is natural that Salvadorans, Nicaraguans, and Guatemalans who became Belizeans under a PUP government, many of them getting land from that government, have some gratitude. This gratitude was not evident in 2008 when the PUP was absolutely obliterated at the polls.

The simple fact is that leaders cannot survive on their past deeds. The head coach of a football team isn’t ungrateful when he benches the star striker if the player stops producing. The shareholders of a business aren’t being ungrateful when they fire the business manager because the business is failing. Belizeans are grateful if they have been served well in the past, but they have the future to look to, the future for their children and grandchildren.

Belizeans aren’t blind. The playing field balanced out a long time ago: all the UDP is doing now is corruptly trying to gain votes so that they can stay in power. For the good of Belize, we must stomp out this dirty kind of politics.

It seems it doesn’t matter an iota the battering our democracy is taking at home, and the absolute wasting of our image abroad. They are fighting to hold on to power, so it’s greed over country.

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