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Props for the churches, weed for the British

FeaturesProps for the churches, weed for the British

By Colin Hyde

   Wanting to believe the best, I believe the church lobbyists have agreed to give the GoB space to improve the marijuana law before it is brought before the people in a referendum. There’s no feeling like being vindicated, no feeling like being able to say, I told you so. Well I did, I told you that these church folk are good people and that with a little guidance they would make us proud. Boy, they came though the smoke triumphant, like Nebuchadnezzar’s three prisoners.

   It pays to be good. The government quite easily could have interfered in the process, like the UDP did to save Penner’s hide. I hear that for penance Penner has become involved in a lot of charity work, sponsoring canoe races to keep the young people active, and such. Community service is so much better than going to jail.

   I don’t want this government to be resting on its laurels. Wait, it’s not the government that deserves the praise, it’s the churches — what the government needs to do now is give thanks, show gratitude for receiving a good turn, and I have just about the best Good Samaritan job for them to repay their debt.

   Have you heard about the poor British? They say charity begins with your own, and the British who once loaned us their flag and anthem are being forced to get draconian on marijuana. That’s what I heard. If so, we all know why. It’s their climate; they can’t grow it. Damn these hard times. They’ve never been soft on weed, but now they have to get the other way with users because those Europeans know that the economic staple, grow what you eat and eat what you grow, goes for what you smoke too.

   This is a big opportunity for us to make the British glad we are their friends. We solved their dye problems, their fine furniture problems, and their banana problems; why not solve their weed problems too? They’ve always had to pay for the yellow fruit that Minor Keith turned into a gold mine, but in the old days the wood things were all on us. I say, let this one be on us too, except for the labor. Let us grow them all the marijuana they need.  

    Bah, the US was against weed, and oh how quickly they changed their tune when in their vast country they found a few areas where it could grow. Now big “Cabinet” people in that country are growing, selling, and smoking holy bush. The poor British, they can’t, but lucky for them, we can. Our friend is in need, and I want our leaders to seize the moment. Oh boy, I’m so excited I can see the label on the bales – Belize Weed for the British.

Clinton isn’t soft on violent crime

   In one of his most recent columns, Brother Clinton Canul Luna said he agreed with El Salvador president, Nayib Bukele, who, reacting to criticism from the “civilized” world about his bringing down the hammer on gangs, told them if their love and compassion was so great for ruthless gang members they should take them to their country. Brother Clinton said sometimes the way to make men behave like human beings is by taking away their freedoms and democracy, and if not that, then it must be an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, pain. Brother Canul Luna suggested that some particularly vicious individuals deserved to be burned alive.

   There is tremendous frustration in our land. Everywhere there is violence, and this has prompted our authorities to copy the El Salvador blueprint with a recent roundup of persons believed to be involved in criminal business. We can expect local human rights activist lawyers and intellectuals to holler foul, and maybe we will get some bruising in the foreign press as the defenders of human rights reach out to add clout to their cause.

   If he hasn’t, Brother Canul needs to explore our justice system and its giant failure in all of this. Foolishly, Belizeans embraced criminal lawyers when they started beating the system in the courts. Oh, we were quick to blame the police. In truth, they had a big share in the problem, a number of them being corrupted because of the insane drug laws. But the big fault is the system. We shouldn’t cheer for the acquittal of a person accused of murder. On every acquittal we must lament; if not the accused, then who?

   Justice died in Belize when we got independence. There are a number of reasons why civilians become violent, many of them economic – poverty, disparate wealth, and corruption. The number one cause for people becoming violent is injustice, and the worst injustice is unpunished violent crime.

   We have been averaging nearly 125 murders per year in our little country over the last two decades, with less than 200 convictions. What an unjust country we live in. If we kept a record, the most used term in these past two decades within our justice system would be nolle pros, insufficient evidence.

   I would like Brother Canul Luna to explore what fellow Amandala columnists Janus and I recommended to fix this justice disaster. Janus, in his “New Jurisprudence,” said the defense and the prosecution must work together in all murder cases, and he wasn’t talking about the little fraud thing they do in evidence sharing.

   I suggested that we build a comfortable prison specifically for individuals who would have been let go on the nolle pros, the insufficient evidence. I suggested that the state hire a battery of lawyers and detectives totally dedicated to unearthing new evidence in these cases. No one should walk away from a murder charge for iffy reasons. We need every stone to be turned in cases where blood is shed. 

Worse will follow molasses truck accidents if we don’t step in

   It was a disappointing decision by ASR/BSI to truck sugar instead of ship it by river and sea. No one can be happy about the wear and tear increased trucking will cause on the highways, and the worry that more huge trucks on our highways will lead to more accidents. No amount of prayers can stop the road wear and tear, and they aren’t working in accident prevention either. ASR/BSI trucks have been involved in a couple spectacular smashups recently, fortunately neither fatal. We have to act before it gets worse.

   We have a problem here, and luckily the remedy isn’t expensive. After the most recent accident, Shawn Chavarria of BSI told Channel Five that the company is very conscious about safety, and among their safety measures are limiting and monitoring the speed of their trucks. Chavarria said their trucks are fitted with GPS equipment so they can monitor their drivers from the factory, and they have set maximum speeds of 45 mph for truck drivers transporting sugar and 35 mph for molasses trucks.

   We all know about the dangers of speeding, but you can also travel too slowly. Some years ago I told a story about my friend getting pulled over on the Mexican highway for driving at what he considered a brisk 45 mph. If you don’t know about the dangers of going too slow, just get in a vehicle and feel the pain of traveling behind a big truck doing 35. Those BSI speeds won’t work. They will cause traffic to gum up on the highway, and that will lead to frustration, and bad decisions will follow.

   These big trucks need to travel at night, between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. They’ll need a fleet of drivers, so they can have a good rotation of fresh guys behind the wheels. They must select drivers who have good night sight and equip them with goggles that enhance night vision and every other aid that is available. They will wreck the roads, but the felony shouldn’t be compounded by accidents too.

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