This piece was first published on Facebook using its Notes feature on February 19, 2020. It is entitled “An Open Letter to Belizean Youth”. The first time it was published, it featured a photo of the 2005 civil unrests in Belmopan in which a protester was seen holding a Belizean Flag in the face of the Belize Police Department’s Riot Unit:
It is a very charged time in Belize, and some may think it is because it is an election year, but I beg to differ. I believe it is because times are ripe with raging inequality and lack of opportunity; our nation is being brought to its knees because of the painful bite of corruption and all its tentacles. We are in the burning heat of very fragile times. The question then becomes, “What will we the people do about it?” We the people. We the majority. We the youth. The question can be answered in several ways, but I think it first starts with the flexing of our numbers as it is an expression of our collective power.
Tomorrow the unions are hosting a march that finishes with a demonstration that is to end at the Memorial Park in Belize City, a people movement made out of those that hold our economy up. Our teachers, our public servants, our stevedores and everyone in between. They have made clear to our elected officials some demands, including that of implementation of the United Nations Convention against Corruption and the creation of Campaign Financing Regulations. These demands, though very specific, speak to all of us because of money lost in corrupt dealings and dirty money that wields purchasing power in elections. All of it is DEVASTATING to the bottom-line development outcomes of nations.
The more leaks in the system, the more we all lose. Lose in our schools, lose in hospitals, lose in the job market, lose in our transport systems, and lose in life. We are deprived and starved of our own resources to serve the selfish interests of a few politicians, their families, and cronies from well before 1981 and into 2020. You don’t have to look far to see it — look at the table in your kitchen, look at the conditions of your streets and drains, reflect on that time you needed a job and how hard it was for you to get one, think about the time you needed that scholarship you were qualified for and didn’t get it, remember that time when you were denied of an opportunity at the discretion of a minister, think about your neighbor, friend, and family that have been murdered.
It is on this background that I ask every person that reads this letter, especially those under 30, to join me at the union demonstration tomorrow, February 20th, 2020 at 9:00 a.m. at the Constitution Park. This is not the time for blue nor red loyalty, nor the time for fear, nor the time to sit idly by and be spectators to our own demise. We cannot let this opportunity to take action slip by us. We must be agents of urgency that refuse to loiter on colonial premises of racial, ethnic, social and economic division.
So sacrifice one vacation day at work or call in sick, skip a class to save your country, walk the city streets with a purpose.
This is for the country, this is for those yet unborn, this is for US! #ForTheRiceandBeans
For more on support or to lend your expertise and time to various people-driven and nation-building causes and discussions reach out: [email protected]