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PWLB officially launched

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Albert Vaughan, new City Administrator

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Belize launches Garifuna Language in Schools Program

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But nobody is calling out the UDP

FeaturesBut nobody is calling out the UDP

by Colin Hyde

All respect to Ms. Sandra Coye – educator, historian, nationalist, sage – for insisting that the government join South Africa in this case it has brought before the ICJ against Israel for the horror it is visiting on Gaza. We are a little country, far from perfect, but when it comes to equal rights and justice we cannot afford to trip up; we must stand firm. To date, our government, which made the bold decision to break off diplomatic relations with Israel when it started pulverizing Gaza, has not joined its name to the more than 50 countries that have put theirs on the roll.

I think it is fair to call out the government. I think it is also fair, and necessary to point out the disappointing hand the UDP is playing. Dean Barrow, the party’s former leader, and our prime minister for 13 years, coming out on the side of equal rights and justice does not in any way vindicate the feeble UDP position. Dean Barrow’s position might even be expedient.

There are times when we must speak truth to power. No hate; it is for love of God and His creation that we must tell people who are under head-tek, feelings of divine right, that the God of the heavens is the God of all. How many times does Pope Francis have to say it? Two of our leading pastors have come out against what Israel is doing. The UDP waffled in October, made a shishy statement in November, and haven’t uttered a peep since. They can’t get away with that.

UDP hero, Boots Martinez laid claim to the saying that politics is a big people’s game. Well, it gets no bigger than this. This is the REAL big boys’ game.

Municipal elections are primarily about garbage collection and such, but people don’t have “one track” minds. “Other” things do influence what happens in the cities and towns. On the local front, the people will decide in the upcoming municipal elections if Henry Charles having two jobs is egregious enough to make them switch their vote from the blue to the red. On the international front, the vote is between the government’s support of equal rights and justice in Palestine, and the opposition’s position which accepts the manifest destiny of the Europeans as a superior race, with full justification for what they did in the past, and what they are presently doing, supporting the destruction of Gaza.

Maybe our country can’t go any further than breaking off diplomatic relations with Israel. Our country’s main opposition party must condemn Israel’s atrocities, in the strongest terms.

Bahamas government defending its tourism industry

The government in the Bahamas has stepped up to defend its tourism industry after two white women who stopped over on a cruise ship claimed they were raped while onshore. For its reasons, US authorities on travel put out an advisory in late January for Americans to step carefully when in The Bahamas. The alleged rapes happened in early February. The women said they were at a resort having drinks, and two men laced their refreshments with drugs and then abused them.

The resort fired the two men, and there’s an active investigation into the women’s allegations. There is camera footage for some of what transpired.

Chris Eberhart, in a story for Fox News, said “as the resort fights the women’s allegations with its own statement, the United States Department of State and the Bahamian government exchanged cutting barbs over the department’s level-two travel advisory warning because of rising levels of crime.” He said the “Bahamian Prime Minister Philip Davis came out swinging by saying many tourism locations share the same level two designation.”

Continuing with the prime minister, Eberhart said, “He said the Bahamian government ‘is alert, attentive and proactive to ensure that The Bahamas remains a safe and welcoming destination.’” Eberhart said “nearly the entire Bahamian economy is at stake when it comes to tourism, which accounts for approximately 70% of the country’s gross domestic product, and employs just over half of the workforce, according to an October 2022 report by the International Trade Administration”; and he said that “The Bahamas was on track to welcome over 7 million American tourists by the end of 2023, according to the state department’s most recent Investment Climate Statement, which was released in 2023.”

Okay, thanks for your patience. It’s a terrible incident if it is true, and it’s a terrible incident if it is false. Putting aside the ramifications there for all involved – may truth prevail, and all be as well as they can be – what jumps out at me is the tourism share of the Bahamian economy, 70%. It’s fascinating because this is one of the wealthier nations in the world. My gudnis, all that from embracing visitors! A source says offshore banking, manufactures, and agriculture are also players in their economy.

The Bahamas, an independent island Commonwealth sister, has a population like ours, a little over 400,000. Statista said the per capita income there in 2022 was US$31,520! Wow, were half of such an income well distributed throughout Belize, our leaders could say, job done, everybody win! Why are Belizeans trying so hard to get to the USA? I say, get on a boat and set sail for that island of milk and honey.

So, how does our tourism product compare? Comparing us with them, the physical advantages for the Bahamas are proximity; they’re right next door to Florida, and there’s … Wait, that’s about it there. Their barrier reef is shorter, their blue hole is shallower, they don’t have forests like ours, temples like ours, or jaguars like ours. The explorationjunkie lists their rock iguana, Bahama parrot, Bottlenose dolphin, hawksbill turtle, nurse shark, great hammerhead shark, West Indian manatee, green sea turtle, West Indian flamingo, and the brown pelican as ten of the “fascinating” wildlife you will encounter in The Bahamas. I say, if you’re into wildlife, don’t invest in film for your camera if you’re going there. But here’s a point for them. Our famous grouper that is threatened because of over fishing is named after their capital, Nassau.

Giving respect where it is due, in the line of human resource The Bahamas owns 14 Olympic medals! And a good bet is that their leadership has been and is better than ours. I have pointed out that few countries in this world have had a much larger neighbor breathing down their necks, and that that has cramped our growth. But if you don’t care for explanations, the bare fact is that they have done much better than we have.

We’ll definitely have to explore more; it’s important to study what others are doing. This The Bahamas, it looks like their tourism is largely foreign owned, just like ours. The story, “Paradise for the Americas”, at the webpage geographia.com, says the tourism industry is private sector driven; that in 1992 “some 20% of the hotel room inventory was owned by the government;” but since then “privatization has become central to the government’s new economic policy.” It is so with tourism that people won’t send their people to you if they don’t get a big bite of the pie.

The story says most government hotels have been privatized, “purchased and refurbished by Jamaican, Italian, Danish, Swiss, and other international investors.” I see in the story that a consortium of American, British, and South African investors had acquired “four major hotel properties on Paradise Island.” At the time the article was written – I can’t pick up the story again, but I think it was published in 1995 – government ownership of hotels was down to “5% of the country’s room inventory.”

I couldn’t find out the size of the contributions of the two “tourisms” in The Bahamas. CrusieRadio said almost 80% of tourists to The Bahamas in 2023 arrived on a cruise ship. Looking at our numbers for 2019, we were told by the BTB that 503,000 tourists were of the overnight variety, and 1.17 million came on cruise ships.

Well, well, it just flashed in my head why The Bahamas has 14 medals and we have none, nada, zilch. It’s the money. Since so much money entered sports, it costs a lot more to produce a competitive athlete. They got the loot. And they are obviously spending, investing it in their youth.

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PWLB officially launched

Albert Vaughan, new City Administrator

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