I write as a former member of the National Assembly (1984–1989) and as a former Senator (1989–1993).
In regard to the public officers and other unions joining the Belize National Teachers Union (BNTU) to defend the hard-earned gains of government workers, it is clear that they do so without any political affiliation, but for a worthy cause.
There has always been corruption in the government apparatus, but it was minimal, not as gross as we have been seeing during the past two administrations since 1998. The hunger for political power, for self-aggrandizement and unlimited enrichment, is what corrupted our system of governance to the point where we are today. This has resulted in a Super Bond with its attendant high interest rates which is sucking the blood of all Belizeans to the bone.
Those in political power today, and just yesterday up to November 11, 2020, have used the 2019 drought and COVID-19 as scapegoats to blame for our current predicament and economic hardships. But NO, it is corruption that is to blame. They never thought of saving for a rainy day.
Both political parties, the PUP and the UDP, renamed by political pundits as the PUDP, have had their inner political struggles by the young tigers who were hungry for power. Political power at the Cabinet level gives the tigers access to the public trough to feed with insatiable greed.
In the 1970s, when Assad Shoman, Said Musa and UBAD were forces to be reckoned with, George Price ensured the dismemberment of UBAD by co-opting Shoman and Musa into the PUP. The Belize Times subliminally discredited UBAD by printing on its front page “Belizean togetherism is better than racism”. They portrayed UBAD as an organization with a racist agenda to scare the Belizean people.
When Manuel Esquivel was Prime Minister, he too had to face an inner power struggle, and he was almost unseated as leader of the UDP first, and then it would have been as Prime Minister. It was a case of uncle and nephew, Dean Lindo and Dean Barrow, working against Esquivel. The vote ended 14-14. Léliz Carballo saved the day for Esquivel. He told those present that when he was PUP that he had only one leader, George Price, and that as a UDP he had only one leader: Manuel Esquivel.
As the representative for Orange Walk Central, one of my duties was to have control of our nation’s check and balances to ensure expenditure control. My leadership was undermined because my UDP colleagues transferred voters from my division to theirs so that Léliz Carballo would not be re-elected in 1989 and would not be an obstacle to their personal designs for corruption, had the UDP won the general elections. It did not. The PUP was returned to government.
It is clear for all to see that the political agenda of the PUDP is to keep the people uneducated, ignorant, poor, hungry and jobless so that when elections are due, they are easy prey to take money, a little pantry, handouts and other goodies to vote for them until the next elections arrive. If this is not corruption, what is?
The BNTU, PSU, NTUCB and APSSM (Association of Public Service Senior Managers) face an uphill battle to avoid the 10% salary cut. The BNTU in particular has done a stellar job in confronting both governments of the PUDP, especially the past Barrow administration, which it forced to sign the UNCAC (United Nations Convention Against Corruption). We must support them. We owe it to them.
There is an age-old adage that says that “the leopard never changes its spots”. The PUDP is such a leopard. In 2021 Belize is in a litmus test. Now is the time to prove to the world that Belizeans do indeed have talent.
POWER TO THE PEOPLE