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Thursday, April 18, 2024

PWLB officially launched

by Charles Gladden BELMOPAN, Mon. Apr. 15, 2024 The...

Albert Vaughan, new City Administrator

BELIZE CITY, Mon. Apr. 15, 2024 On Monday,...

Belize launches Garifuna Language in Schools Program

by Kristen Ku BELIZE CITY, Mon. Apr. 15,...

Campaign finance stagnation

FeaturesCampaign finance stagnation

by Colin Hyde

The leaders of the dormant Vision Inspired by the People (VIP) – Paul Morgan, Bobby Lopez, Hubert Enriquez, and Patrick Rogers – are heroes. There is no greater accolade than hero. I have wondered about some of the people the American media calls “stars”, some of them being quite unsavory. But that star thing is loose, has some cracks, and through the gaps some disappointing media sorts, who are desperate to get the headline in the news, sneak in – people that are up to no good. There can be no mix up with hero. A hero is always a force for good.

All of those VIP leaders could have jumped on the PUDP wagon and become government ministers. But they saw some serious flaws in our governance, and for the greater good of Belize they sacrificed themselves in an electoral system that doesn’t have space for three parties. They deserve praise especially because they didn’t have to do it.

It could be said that their years championing the business of the people was only about paying our country back for all the blessings they have received. That four, they could afford to make the sacrifice. But again, we must exalt them bikaaz they didn’t have to do it. It goes for something that they didn’t have to, and they did. Because of their selflessness, the things they stood and still stand for, we must give them a full ear whenever they call out our leaders who took the easy road under the red and blue tents. I didn’t say we have to agree with all their positions.

A law to address how political parties financed election campaigns was at the top of the VIP list of recommendations to improve our governance. The VIP absolutely refused to take undeclared money. Those brothers flat out refused to march into hell for a heavenly cause, their position being that once you took a financier’s money, you were beholden.

With municipal elections less than three weeks away and no campaign financing legislation in place yet, people who are unhappy with this electoral system, that has no checks on campaign spending, are putting in their pound to make the government make good on its election promise to “introduce campaign finance reform with legislation to ensure disclosure of campaign contributions.” This is a cat that is taking a long time to bell.

About this necessary legislation, I think I heard Cordel say their people were working on it. Dean Barrow definitely wasn’t excited about getting anything in place. 13 years at the wheel and nada, means you didn’t believe in it. It did happen that when John S. fell into disgrace for his association with fraudsters from foreign, Dean used the word “chagrin” to describe our failure to have this important legislation to guide the process.

All of Belize now accepts that our famous democracy without campaign finance legislation is like the soup that’s long on water. We would have been much further along with delivering the prize to the nation if we hadn’t scattered our forces with this full revision of our Constitution, all because Leviticus haters want God out, and some persons are obsessed with trading the titular king for a titular president.

The opportunity for those special interests came when Henry Charles very sensibly went to the House and tried to get into law a set of standards for membership. Well now, just look at the world’s most famous and powerful democracy and the strain it is under. Because the Americans didn’t put in the black and white bold enough, spell things out so clearly that they wouldn’t need judges to tell them what certain words meant, they are presently wrestling with presidential rights to immunity, and how to deal with insurrection.

Henry Charles will battle to keep Fort George; and Tracy, Sista B – our no-show representative, and Shyne are interested parties because all four are in the crosshairs of the VIPs Belize Peace Movement. Campaign finance legislation got delayed because we got sidetracked.

I expected the Reporter to call him out too

When I saw Boots’ recall gambit make the headline in the Reporter, I was hopeful that he was going to get called out for his frivolous challenge. You know how it is when you want something to be so. But the Reporter’s Michelle Sutherland wasn’t on that page; no, she was all about the process. Sutherland noted Section 7(2) of the Recall of Elected Representatives Act, which says “at least sixty-five per cent (65%) of the registered electors” in the division have to cast their votes to make it valid. Sutherland said that was a “relatively large threshold for turnout”, and that it was likely Martinez had timed “his submission to overlap with the municipal elections.”

The Reporter also dealt with Boots’ recall in its editorial. The editorialist there thought the recall law had a “notable set of hurdles”, and that those were about preventing “frivolous and abusive usage” of the law. The Reporter called for the law to be examined so that it doesn’t lose its original purpose.

I don’t see that 65% being too high. But getting 30% of electors to sign on to trigger a referendum is way too low. That should be 50%. For that recall tool to be in play, it should be across party lines. The people in a division should REALLY want to dismiss their representative.

The Reporter said the way how the Boots recall is handled “will speak to the quality of our democratic institutions and the ability to effectively implement them.” We have to feel that if the government was in on the exercise to see an opponent ousted, beside the list of candidates in the upcoming Municipals, there’d be an additional decision for the folk of Port Loyola to make. Yap, if the PUP had a fish they wanted to fry, they would have been leaning on the GG and the EBC to get this thing on the ballot for March 6.

I think the Reporter’s position/observation would be a more serious concern if the present recall attempt wasn’t such a joke. There would have been a lot more interest and legitimacy if the move had been made on the absent Sista B. Still, the letter of the law does say to honor it.

The UDP passed the recall law, and it needs to be amended. Another UDP reform was three terms for a prime minister. That should be amended to make it two. The UDP did amend the Referendum Act, took away the threshold, that to accommodate the vote on the ICJ, whether we should go or not go.

Home of The Hague says no more plane parts for Israeli fighter jets

Tim Martin, in a story in BreakingDefense at the webpage breakingdefense.com, said Patrick Bolder, a defense analyst at The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies think tank, described an order from The Dutch Court of Appeal in The Hague to the Netherlands government to “stop exporting F-35 fighter jet parts to Israel inside the next 7 days”, as symbolic because Israel doesn’t need that jet “for the operations they are currently conducting over Gaza.” Well, okay, but the world must say thanks to the Dutch Court of Appeal anyway, for its giant statement.

Martin said “Human rights groups, led by Oxfam, brought the case to the Court of Appeal, calling for the ban of the parts to Tel Aviv after the Hague District Court refused to do so in a December 2023 judgment.” Lawyers are big in these human rights groups. Three lawyers – Mahatma Ghandi, Fidel Castro, and Nelson Mandela – number among the world’s greatest freedom fighters of the last century.

Senator Bernie Sanders, a perennial contender for the job of president of the United States, said in an opinion piece published in The Guardian (UK): “This war is being fought primarily with US arms and equipment. That means the United States is complicit in this nightmare.” Bernie Sanders is Jewish; he represents the state of Vermont in the US senate.

Belize isn’t into weapons manufacture. Our contribution to end the horror in Gaza was to ask the Israeli diplomats to kindly leave our shores, and return when they end their barbarism.

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PWLB officially launched

Albert Vaughan, new City Administrator

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