The introduction of what is called modernization and civilization brings along with it all kinds of negative effects. With the beginning of the Industrial Revolution in the 1760s, a lot of changes were seen in London due to the migration of people, and as a result the chemical waste of the industries, the human waste, and other things that went into the River Thames caused that river to be officially considered “biologically dead” by the 1830s, and it took 100 years to recover. I believe that the past history of the Industrial Revolution and the damages that were caused because of negligence is something that needs to be studied and looked at when we want to analyze what is taking place today in the rivers, lagoons, bays, etc. in Belize.
Referring to Corozal, we need to recall that the Pembroke Hall sugar factory at today’s Libertad started in 1937, and all the waste was thrown into the river. I can recall that in the 1960s when the factory was closed for maintenance, people would complain about dead fishes in the banks. All kinds of chemicals that are prohibited in the first world countries have been used for agriculture in Belize. With the passing of time, another sugar factory was established in Orange Walk, and many people came from different parts of the country to work and live there. We had never had any sewage treatment in Corozal or Orange Walk, and I don’t think in any other part of the country.
Meanwhile the population has grown to 380,000 to 400,000 people throughout the country. In addition, these companies do not have a purification system that allows the treatment of water that contains poisonous chemicals. I recall that when the papaya industry would spray the trees to protect them from insects, the particles would be picked up by the wind and carried into people’s houses, affecting them with different kinds of diseases. Of course, there will be no official report on such a situation that took place. However, all that which was thrown onto the earth would go back to the rivers, lagoons, bays, and so forth.
These chemicals used are non-friendly to the ecological system. Recently I heard in one of the news commentaries in Chetumal that 15 years ago something similar took place which killed the fishes at the Chetumal Bay and the Hondo River. Again, we won’t find an official report that it was caused by chemicals brought into the country by foreign corporations that had caused damage to our ecological system. After the passing of time, in the northern part of Belize, regardless of the official speeches of goodwill, the New River had been seriously affected due to the chemical residues that were brought from foreign countries for use in their enterprises and were thereafter thrown into the river.
In addition, the extraction of our best woods for exportation, which has been occurring for a long time, the building of ranches, the destruction of our mangroves and many other activities, such as the use of oil for machinery, automobiles, etc., are factors that affect and continue affecting our habitat, which must be stopped. Instead of using all those non-friendly chemicals, trees can be planted. These organizations take out the natural resources with a very low cost of operation and leave us to borrow money to see if we can cure the illnesses that were left or the damages that were inflicted. Belize, it is time to seriously look at a National Plan of Progress which should be included in the constitution so that whichever political party is in power must achieve its objectives, which should be for the benefit of the people on a whole.
October 4, 2019