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Belmopan community mourns

FeaturesBelmopan community mourns

by Colin Hyde

There’ll be a memorial service in Belmopan on Friday for the victims of the triple homicide that took place in that city on New Year’s Eve – Jon, David, and Vivian. I wasn’t close to any of the three individuals who died, they’re from another generation, but I knew their families very well. In Belmopan, they are people who are respected and loved. All reports are that their children were deserving of praise, and that is why the hurt goes beyond their immediate families, extends to all Belmopan, all Belize, and even in the greater world.

Belmopan has experienced tragedies, lost many citizens long before their time, most of the losses due to traffic accidents or illness. There have been deaths caused by murder, and the victims were mostly new to Belmopan, not from the original families that settled in the Garden City in the first years. I can think of only one from the core Belmopan clan that we lost that way, and that was basketball star, Aubrey Lopez, the son of former mayor Simeon Lopez, who was brutally murdered in Belize City back in 2010.

Vivian is my cousin, the daughter of my first cousin Lewis “Lewis B” Belisle, and his wife Valerie Pascascio. I knew the Pascascio-Belisle children when they were young — Vivian, Gary, Vanya, and Vashti — but I’m “put up”, rarely go anywhere, so I haven’t seen them, except for Gary, since they grew up.

The Pascascios are a foundation Belmopan family. I think the patriarch was a pastor. The Pascascio boys were avid and good football players. One of the Pascascio girls, Therese, was in my class at Compre, and a younger sister, Jem, was in my younger brother’s class. They are quiet people, very strong, very hardworking, and devout Christians.

Like many Belizeans, Lewis B, and his sister, Betty, who used to work at the Belmopan hospital, went to live in the capital because of their jobs. A good footballer and cyclist, Lewis B worked in the public service as a finance officer. He and I spent much of our growing up years together; during all that time I never saw him in a fight, never heard him cuss, and never heard him tease or say anything bad to or about anyone.

I didn’t know Jon and David’s mom, beyond hellos, but their dad, Holly Ramnarace, was well-known in Belmopan. Holly played some football, but his big sport was lawn tennis. I bet he played cricket too, but I never got around to visiting the pitch in the 1970s, the years when I lived in Belmopan. There were loud hellos between me and Holly whenever we met. Holly died about a decade ago, and I think his wife died fairly recently.

Belizeans are shocked by these murders. I don’t have words to say to my cousin, and Val, over what happened. Sometimes it’s hard to count our blessings. I pray for my cousin and his family, and the Ramnaraces, that they will be sustained by the legacy of their children, their great work for our country and their beautiful memories.

Should big farmers pay for livestock killed by jaguars?

Yes, progress brings problems – belated Happy Birthday to Father of the Nation, George Cadle Price! This story on Channel Five about jaguars killing livestock around Boom, the problem isn’t confined to that area. Small farmers in the Cayo District are feeling the pressure too. The blame might belong to progress. Our government promoted turning Cayo into another sugarcane belt, and all around the sugar plantations in the Cayo District, wild animals are on the rampage.

Belize isn’t a big country. The 30,000 acres that Santander and a few large farmers have planted out to sugarcane might be considered a small development elsewhere, but in Belize the impacts are huge. A slew of wildlife got displaced when we decided it was a good idea to deforest and plant sugarcane, and farmers on the periphery of the development are paying. It’s not a new thing that jaguars are attacking and stealing domesticated animals, but my reports are that there’s been an increase of these incidents. The pest pressure on small corn and ground food producers has increased too. We took away their habitat, and hunger has driven them unto our small farms.

Respect to big developments, but we have to be aware of the impacts. And if our success leads to another’s failure, we have to make amends. All shouldn’t be left up to the Forestry Department. The big farmers must be concerned about the welfare of the small ones. When you felled such a relatively vast swath of forest, you changed our world. The jaguars have turned to our small livestock and the raccoons (coatimundi) to our corn and ground food for their sustenance.

PUP celebrating 2020 election victory

It’s okay, this PUP celebration, because for a while there, like 13 long, tough years, the blue crowd must have been feeling that the party would never taste victory again. And it could have been a real situation, if not for UDP failure to create jobs, wastage of the oil funds, my friend John’s friends, national fatigue with seeing red, Barrow’s arrogance, Barrow’s rampant nepotism, and Barrow’s dull machete.

The session wasn’t considered newsworthy by the real print media, the Amandala and the Reporter. The television stations carried it, of course, but print didn’t have any ink to waste. But I do. Every step the PUP makes, I must report on. Big in my interests included the venue, and the menu. I looked in the Belize Times, but there was no mention of the place. After the fact, I’d think they wouldn’t worry about anyone knowing where they were, had been, but maybe the proprietor only agreed to host their show on condition of anonymity. I can tell you the spacious room where blue royalty congregated was just like the old days, all polished wood, but it didn’t look like mahogany.

People must live what they talk, so everything there to eat and drink, I hope it was from the local factories. They hid the food from view. They all had water bottles before them, from a local company. Belizeans can’t be blamed too much for our foreign palate. We were brought up on pigtail and flour, pork and dough, and just about no one in our country goes a day without eating the wiggly thing at the hind of the pig, or bread. But leaders must show good examples. They must live the change they want to see.

The UDP would say about this all-blue celebration, no, the economic engines aren’t humming, and in other areas the change from UDP to PUP was also a poor decision. Fair-minded people, yes, would say that George Price’s party deserves a break, a little relaxation and recreation to ease their minds from the tough task they inherited. PUPeez would say they have every right to pat themselves on the back for the fantastic work they have done toward making all of us win.

Of course, that party inherited a poisoned chalice. Channel Five said their reports are that the powwow was all serious business, priority things like our economy, inflation, and crime. The Belize Times, which through good deeds and terrible sins boasts that the truth shall make you free, said the boys in blue were on a working retreat, and heaped big praise on the leader, said he was inspirational, and that he employed a George Price-like approach to governing.

On a Wave morning show, Fonso Noble once said our PM kyaahn talk. I don’t know if this is proof for Fonso’s case, or we have to keep a closer eye on the PM for the sutiles. After spouting off about all the wonders under the PUP, how they had curtailed violent crimes, brought unemployment to a record low, restored the confidence of investors, and reduced the deficit by 1 billion, the PM told Channel Five: “So we have to admit, you know, that we have these successes.” Well, really, I don’t know who forced all those glowing things out of you, PM.

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