Saturday, October 24, 2020
“Man did not receive the gift of the word to hide his thought.” — Jose Saramago
“To be independent is not an absolute concept” — Quevedo
Silence is not a logical option at this time of our history, because the truth will make us free of Belizean myths, because when a society is living under the influence of myths, it cannot change its destiny.
Let’s start with this first myth: Belize is an independent state.
No, Belize is, in fact, a neo-colonial state. Politically, our model of government is the same model of the UK, the Westminster model, the “Parliamentary Democracy”. Under this model, the Belizean head of state is the English Queen. She is represented by a Governor General, who has no kind of real power. His function is mainly ceremonial. Second, the economical model in Belize is totally a colonial system. Belize is mainly a consumer society and a weak producer of raw products. The exportation of our products is cheap, and to maintain a high level of social consumption, the importation of expensive manufactured products is high (the parking lots of imported brand new vehicles is a clear example), and consequently, Belize suffers a chronic trade deficit. Third, Belize has the social model of a colonial state. The minority of the population at the top, especially those associated with political power, enjoy a very good standard of life, but the majority at the bottom are living marginalized and suffering severe poverty.
Second myth: Belize is a democratic state. It is obvious that our “parliamentary democracy” is false, because in reality, it functions as a parliamentary dictatorship. Due to the lack of a check-and-balance, we have institutional abuse by our Prime Ministers. The rules of political games can be changed with absolute impunity. To make matters worse, the lack of separation of powers again allows the Prime Minister all kinds of political gains. In Belize, the legislative branch and the executive branch are in monolithic association. The legislators make the law and simultaneously apply the same law as members of the Cabinet, and using a metaphorical phrase, our legislators act at the same time as prosecutor, judge and jury.
This duplicity is one of the main reasons for the high level of corruption in Belize. The most aberrant example of lack of separation of power and lack of checks and balances is the case of an unelected member of the sphere of power who has suffered an extraordinary metamorphosis, “Kafkiana,” and now has become an omnipotent “political Superman”.
Actually, he is the Attorney General, Minister of National Security, a Senator and the chairman of the ruling party. Under this kind of situation, Belizeans cannot expect any kind of transparent, honest and just investigations of the controversial conduct of the current administration.
This horrendous violation of democratic principles is an enormous insult to the collective intelligence of the Belizean people, and I am astounded that this bizarre status has not been severely criticized by the opposing party, the media, and especially by the well-learned professionals, our many Belizean lawyers.
Belize is an independent state? From my perspective, Belize is heavily influenced by foreign external powers financially and politically. A clear example is the IMF. It is Vox Populi that the IMF is an oppressive financial institution that uses brutal “recommendations” that most of the time violate national sovereignty.
Internally, dominant domestic entities such as FIRE (finance, insurance and real estate) are present in our public life. Those external and internal powers play key roles in the decision-making of the Belizean government. An example of heavy influence or great impact in our society is the significant heavy lobbying on behalf of the agenda of the LGBT group by foreign hands behind the scenes, and the same exists in relation to the issue of capital punishment. Belize is an independent state?
Let’s be clear: Belize is desperately dependent on tourism, mainly from the US, and the constant borrowing of monies from foreign institutions with dangerous consequences. There has been an increase of the external debt and grants from friendly countries that come at times with a price, the hidden agenda. Let’s not forget the remittances from the Belizean Diaspora, and the daily line at the Western Unions is always long. Belize imports essential services and products such as electricity, LPG, fuel, and construction materials of all kinds, and agricultural products, to name a few. These imports are oxygen to our existence, because without them, we would be totally paralyzed.
Why do we live under such sad circumstances? Is it because our leaders are still under the influence of the colonial mentality that is geared toward primary importation and secondary production and exportation? The industrial mentality of our leaders is poor. Belize has oil: why not a small, efficient refinery? Why doesn’t Belize have a thermo-electric plant and a cement factory, and why not an agro-industrial complex? Is it acceptable that the stores sell coconut milk from Thailand? And Belize imports processed meats from Jamaica, but we export live cattle! We have abundant chickens, but we import chicken sausage!
Obviously, for Belize to progress, there have to be changes. The nation needs leaders with a different mindset. We need a leader with a strong industrial and agricultural mentality who will create a wide job market. If the nation has another leader with a civil engineer mentality who is a specialist in building roads and bridges, the Belizean destiny will be dark. Belize needs investors, but no more Chinese/ Taiwanese supermarkets that have flooded Belize from the Rio Hondo to the Sarstoon.
We need investors to expand the productive sector to provide jobs for our growing young population. Dangriga is the cultural capital: Dangriga, by its own merit, has earned the title of the cultural capital of Belize because the Garifuna artists, dancers, musicians, singers, painters, craftsman, etc., have shone internationally, placing Belize in a prominent place.
At the same time, Dangriga has not been awarded the same recognition by the UDP-PUP administrations for decades. By negligence, forgetfulness and abandonment, it has been made the “Cinderella” of Belize. But the worst has been the last 12 years of the current administration under the poor leadership of the incompetent area representative. In conclusion: State amnesia has been chronic with regards to Dangriga. A new red or blue administration may be able to recover the memory.
Dr. Eduardo Carbonell