by Wellington C. Ramos, Adjunct Professor in Political Science and History
Continued from issue #3650, Friday, May 26, 2023.
I came to this conclusion after monitoring the number of years both parties have governed our country without ever submitting any Bill to amend our Constitution and the Belize Land Act to have the Government of Belize refrain from Using, Granting Leases and Titles to Maya, Garifuna and Indigenous Peoples’ Lands, without obtaining their Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC).
If the Government of Belize was to take this necessary action, this would be a big step towards achieving respect, unity and ethnic cooperation in Belize. In my research that I have conducted, there are a few Creole communities that also qualify for Indigenous status, because they revolted against the evils of British slavery and formed their own autonomous communities during the early years of British colonial rule in the country we know as Belize today.
I want to see the Creole people advocate for their rights as well, because they share a common African heritage with us, the Garifuna people, and this will demonstrate our love and appreciation for one another in the name of Belizean unity. This would be similar to the way that the Maya and Mestizos embrace and welcome their fellow Maya and Mestizo brothers and sisters from the neighboring countries in Central America into Belize and we have been embracing it. Numbers mean a lot as it relates to political representation and the distribution of a nation’s wealth. Our numbers have been and are dwindling very fast, and will dwindle even faster if this trend is allowed to continue.
Belizean nationalism is lacking because, since our Independence our governments have done very little to bring our people closer together. Only to divide them for their own political party’s agendas and purposes. Many Belizeans have little to show in regard to how a political party benefitted them. If anything was given to them, it belongs to the taxpayers of Belize and not to the politicians or political party, so they should not feel guilty about what was given to them. I stand in solidarity with all the people in this world who are victims of European and British colonialism and genocide.
I hereby ask all of my Garifuna people to do the same. Together we shall seek Reparations for all the injustices that were done to us. We owe this struggle to our ancestors who have sacrificed their lives and died for us. I want a Belize where all Belizeans will be treated with respect, but the equal distribution of our nation’s wealth and natural resources is lacking.
A lot is lacking, so we need to address the following issues: the granting of Indigenous peoples’ rights; enforcing our laws against all the people who are involved in this corrupt vote- buying and selling; the ending of land grabs by the wealthy families; equal representation in the House of Representatives; an elected Senate; and employment for all of our citizens in every government agency despite a citizen’s race, color, creed or ethnicity. These are the vehicles that will bring respect, unity and ethnic cooperation in Belize.
Until PUP, UDP and all the political parties in Belize act boldly on these issues, then we will be able to reach a state of “Modus Vivendi” (an arrangement or agreement that allows all the conflicting parties to coexist peacefully until a final settlement is reached). This is what Minister Dolores Balderamos Garcia says she so desires.
The Redistricting and the Constitutional Reform that are taking place currently, will convince Belizeans and myself as to whether the political parties and the Government of Belize are serious about making fundamental changes, or are just playing games with our citizens. When these activities are completed and implemented and Belizeans see fundamental changes that make them happy, they will respond positively.
However, when the two committees submit their recommendations and the Belizeans are not happy, the Belizean people will act proactively against the government, because most Belizeans have had enough of their deplorable living conditions under these two political parties’ governments. The Belizeans in the United States, who are citizens of Belize, can still not vote by proxy in their country-of-birth elections and gain full citizenship rights and privileges due to some ambiguities in our Constitution.
The Belize Government has a Minister of Diaspora Affairs, but he and his government are not doing anything to address the problems facing the Belizean American citizens living in the United States and in Belize since they were elected in 2020. The United States possess the most Belizeans with human, financial, military, academic and all the resources that the country of Belize needs to achieve their long-term goals and objectives. They have also not made any comprehensive approach to tap into these readily available, needed resources.
Yet, the Government of Belize continues to grant amnesty and citizenship to the Guatemalan citizens in violation of our Constitution, while their country is still claiming Belize. They found the time to extend the months to serve these people to grant them amnesty which will lead to permanent residency and Belizean citizenship so that they can vote in our elections. Since 1981 when we gained our Independence, they have not found the time to amend our Constitution so that we, who are Belizean-American citizens, can obtain all of our rights in our country of birth.
Recently, the Belize government excessively increased the price of the Belize passport to $200.00 Belize and US currency. In New York City, since 2020 there is no place for our Belizean citizens to renew and process their Belizean passports so that our people can conduct their business and travel. They are being told to travel to Washington DC to renew them.
Our hardworking and poor Belizeans in this country cannot afford this kind of expense, just like the hardworking and poor Belizeans who live in Belize. All the Belizeans living in the United States should confront the Belize Government about the injustices they are facing. Our government is totally demonstrating their disrespect, neglect and lack of care to us all as citizens of Belize, despite our ethnicity.
Many Belizeans, including myself, are still not convinced that the Government of Belize is truly committed to the Indigenous peoples’ and all of our citizens’ causes in our beloved country of Belize. The people are the government, and without them there can be no government. The Representatives work for us. We do not work for them. When elections are called, we must decide whether they should remain employed, or we should let them join us in the unemployed population.