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Monday, September 28, 2020
Home Letters “Belize is … a country of imports …”

“Belize is … a country of imports …”

Dear Editor,

In response to the question raised by your uncle, “I no know why di British no come tek back dehn country”, I would like to offer my opinion.

Your uncle grew up in a time when Belize was under “colonial” rule by the British. During those years the colonial master took care of all of our needs; economical, educational, and spiritual. Belizeans, then British Hondurans, were happy and carefree; life was good. But when Belize attained self-government in 1964, we found ourselves in the unique position where we were calling the shots, or at least seemingly so. It was our first experience of holding the reins of government and we were filled with hope and the prospect of shaping our own opportunities. Unfortunately, there were those among us who could only see opportunities for their personal wealth and power. This was like leaving the “fox to watch hen house”.

The major problem for Belize is that it is a country of imports, and it is ruled by the merchant class; that holds not only the politicians, but the entire country for ransom. Approximately 90% of goods sold across our country are imported and most often of inferior quality and exorbitant prices. Under these conditions it is impossible to grow the economy. Belize must begin to produce. Government must develop strategies and put policies in place that will create incentives for creating industries. Every leader this country has had to date has done absolutely nothing to improve the daily lives of ordinary Belizeans. But, as you look around, you can easily see that there is a lot of money in Belize. Unfortunately, those monies circulate only within the merchant class, which includes some political leaders on both sides of the isle, as well as, those who are friends of or relatives to this special group.

Tourism alone is not the answer to grow the GDP: there must be a diversification of industries. Most of all, government must be able to collect the tax dollars that it is due so that it can function without having to send its politicians all around the world begging for grants and hand-outs. This is what we have become – a country of “beggars and thieves”. “Nobody know whe di money gahn.”

But keep in mind that when the British were in control, their interest in the country was self-serving.
They developed Belize only to the point that met their needs; extraction of mahogany and logwood from our forest that enriched the British coffers. They did nothing to create any form of industrial development in Belize. The problem your uncle saw was that we had repeated the same negligence the British were guilty of. Both colonial rule and self-government were self-serving; the only difference between the two was that the British had some financial support from England and were better managers of their affairs, while GOB had a small fluctuating GDP that was dependent on transmittance from the USA, grants from foreign governments and aid from anywhere, and were poor managers of their affairs. From your uncle’s point of view, Belize was in decline, and her loyal subjects were suffering; so why not give back the country to the previous owners?

Derrick Coffin

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