Belize suffers from political corruption that has created massive problems that are a great detriment to the future of Belize. Among the problems is the great indebtedness that must be paid off by Belizeans, their children, and their children’s children, the virtual destruction of Belize’s once great fisheries and the devastation done to Belize’s forests. Political reform, that establishes an elected Senate, is the most effective means of stopping such destruction of Belize’s assets and further corruption. Without an elected Senate the destruction and corruption will continue.
There is nothing that can be said against an elected Senate that is appropriate. An elected Senate was previously approved by the Political Reform Commission and by the people through referendum. The former Prime Minister, the Hon. Said Musa, advocated an elected Senate in 2006 and again during the 2008 election. The present Prime Minister, the Hon. Dean Barrow, has publicly spoken against an elected Senate.
An elected Senate would take away the dictatorial powers of the Prime Minister. A recent newspaper article referred to the present Prime Minister as an emperor. He earned such title, as everything has to be his way regardless of what the people want. An elected Senate would do away with the what is in it for me politicians and public officials.
For the most effective government, the present 5-year term of office for Representatives should be reduced to 4 years with the terms of office for elected Senators to also be 4 years. However, the commencement of the terms of office for Representatives and elected Senators should be staggered. That is, there should be a 2-year difference from the date of commencement of the terms of Representatives and the terms of office of the elected Senators.
In that manner, 2 years would be the longest that the power of a corrupt government could prevail, as the power in the Government could be changed at 2-year intervals, with either new Representatives or new Senators, depending on the year.
There have been a number of prominent Belizeans and the VIP that have come forward to support an elected Senate. The timing is perfect for them to combine their efforts to seek such a reform that could soon be a reality. Belize’s gaining democracy depends on immediate action before further impropriate contracts are entered into and additional damage is done.
Members and officials of the UDP, PUP, VIP, and PNP parties should join and work together, with independent voters, to use their collective strengths and efforts to bring about an elected Senate at an early date.
The Leader of the Opposition, Francis Fonseca, has promised political reform. Francis Fonseca appears to be in good faith in respect to reform; however, there is a means of testing his good faith and proving whether or not he is sincerely dedicated to proper reform. Though the PUP does not presently have enough votes to enact a change in the Constitution to provide for an elected Senate, they could prevail in one of two ways. The PUP should immediately commence with the appropriate procedure to bring the matter to a vote. If the vote was sufficient to pass the constitutional amendment an elected Senate would become a reality.
If the vote was not sufficient to pass the constitutional amendment, the public would then know who voted against the provision for an elected Senate and who were, therefore, not interested in stopping corruption and protecting the future of Belize.
In the following election, the seats of those who had voted against an elected Senate could therefore fall to the PUP or a third party. In such manner, there would be enough seats, then held, by those who were interested in providing for an elected Senate, to pass the required constitutional amendment.
The measure to provide an elected Senate could pass on the first attempt if enough of the UDP office holders who wanted to save their positions and be reelected in the next election, voted for an elected Senate. Members of the UDP, or any party, do not have to follow party lines in casting their votes for an elected Senate. They can vote whichever way they believe to be best for the country.
The prohibition against legislators crossing party lines, when voting, that has been advocated in Belize, is contrary to democratic principles and the result of corrupt political thinking. In countries where a true democracy prevails, crossing party lines when voting is an accepted and respected practice. The legislator votes for what he, or she, believes is for the best interest of the country, regardless of what his or her party advocates.
For many years Belize’s Government has been operated in a manner that is tantamount to a dictatorship. Recently, the press referred to the Prime Minister as an emperor. Such a reference is in part due to the fact that Prime Minister has taken the firm position that there will be offshore drilling even though it clearly appears that the vast majority of Belizeans are against offshore drilling.
Serious damages by an oil compay such as happened in Peru could destroy the reef and most of the cayes. The only way to protect Belize from future destructive operations resulting from agreements that are not in the best interest of Belize, is to immediately take the appropriate procedures to put into effect an elected Senate.
Changing political parties has not solved Belize’s problems and put an end to corruption or detrimental contracts. The situation has gone from bad to worse. Only an elected Senate will put an end to corruption, detrimental contracts and protect the interests of Belizeans.
The Leader of the Opposition, Francis Fonseca, has promised reform. There is only one way that the voters can be sure that the promise is not merely political rhetoric that, as usual, will be forgotten as soon as the election is over. The only such way is for the PUP to immediately take such steps that are necessary to implement an elected Senate and fight on for its implementation.
If Francis Fonseca wishes the voters to believe the PUP will bring reform, he should start immediately to cause the elected Senate to be implemented.