At this point in time, everything indicates that the referendum to decide Belize’s destiny will be held on the 8th of May as the Government has announced. With only a few days remaining, it is fair to say that the Government, with assistance from our disingenuous “friends” and their hired guns, has done everything in their power to blindly herd us to the ICJ’s chopping block. Even Guatemala has turned up the pressure by preventing the territorial volunteers from entering the Sarstoon. Yet despite all this, the most recent polls still indicate that an overwhelming majority of voters have decided to vote “No to the ICJ”.
We also know that the ruling political party has committed all their considerable resources and well- financed election machinery to ensure a “Yes” vote. This is in addition to the massive and sustained brainwashing campaign partly funded by taxpayer’s money but mainly by donations from our foreign adversaries.
Although the government has apparently succeeded in circumventing the injunction, one beneficial consequence is that it has caused some of their foreign puppeteers to show their hand. I refer to the joint statement recently issued by the US, the UK and the EU in which they overtly expressed their support for the Government’s position. Indeed there is extant a naked and unmitigated desperation to win at any cost, the likes of which has never been seen in Belize.
Obscene, illegal and undemocratic measures have been engaged from every conceivable angle to favor the Government’s position. Over one hundred thousand Belizeans living abroad who are not deemed to be susceptible to the Government’s continuous and blatant propaganda barrage or their unbridled financial incentives and who reside beyond the reach of Government victimization have been effectively prevented from voting by the imposition of unjustifiable and unreasonable reregistration conditions. Nevertheless, it was reported that plane-loads of selected diaspora government supporters were seen at foreign airports ready to fly in to vote on the original April 10th referendum date.
Locally, the usually vocal unions have been ominously silent in the face of impending disaster and glaring injustice. They have failed to denounce the one-sided education campaign, the unjust disenfranchisement of suspected “No” voters and the mad rush to disrespect the law in order to hold a referendum based on a Special Agreement whose constitutionality may well be refuted by the Court of Appeal or the CCJ. The least they should have done is to poll their membership for a clear position on this most important of issues.
Even some media houses have been compromised. There is one in particular which pretends to be unbiased but constantly promotes the Government’s propaganda and unfairly describes any advertisement from the “No” proponents as “a paid political announcement”.
Less than 75% of formally registered voters have successfully registered and it is alleged that the Government-controlled Vital Statistics and Elections and Boundaries departments have actively frustrated the reregistration of thousands of suspected “No” voters while over ten thousand unconstitutionally registered Guatemalans are able to vote. Yet the Government refuses to delay the referendum until these legitimate concerns are resolved. Can the result of such a referendum truly reflect the will of the Belizean people?
Even more alarming is the fact that the referendum result will only be binding if a “Yes” vote is declared. If a “No” vote is declared, the Government will be able to have future reruns until they obtain the desired outcome. This is why we should insist that the referendum result is made binding on the Government.
Under the new referendum law hastily enacted by our undemocratic executive rulers to circumvent the CJ’s injunction, there is no easy way to verify that the result announced will have been fairly arrived at. Counting will be conducted at each of the 344 polling stations and the results of these counts will not be made available to the media. Only the final tally