By Colin Hyde
I understand the disappointment of many when our GoBs have applied states of emergency when the police’s efforts can’t stay the violence in the land. The disappointment is greatest for those who have many friends and family in areas where the brutal measure is applied. Yes, I listened to my nephews, Mose on Krem WuB and Cordel on the television evening news. For them it must be especially difficult, because they know that had our post-independence governments done the right things, which include some of the excellent initiatives that Kremandala has been pushing for decades, there would be hope where there is despair.
Many that live in these areas are victims of terrible injustice. They watched totally greedy elements of the PUP and the UDP make off with the country’s assets so they and their children could drive Floyd Mayweather-type bling rides in the rich streets of the USA, yes, hobnob with the rich and famous in Miami and Los Angeles. For Kremandala, that organization’s sports initiatives that would have created job opportunities were stymied, and their efforts to have African and Maya history included in the curriculum of our schools so that our youth would have greater knowledge of their roots, were ignored.
The disdain for sports is incredible. There are few ball fields and courts in Belize City, and the deficiency is particularly pronounced in the oldest parts of the city. The present government is celebrating its efforts to rehabilitate the old Berger Field on Vernon Street, and kudos are deserving, but they need to explain how they allowed a gas station to be built on a piece of land nearby. There wasn’t any need for a gas station there, because there is one just a couple blocks away. That parcel should have been acquired and used to build a basketball/volleyball court.
The biggest “donor” to our doom is our ineffective justice system. I’ve told you that these young men commit violent crimes, and the guilt is on the nation. They are victims of a system that thinks it can be soft, victims of a Belize that was made by Belizean lawyers. The feeble justice system has led to a Hatfield/McCoy revenge story playing out in our country.
The state is obligated to deliver justice. It hasn’t. The research has not been done to show precisely when our country stopped bringing people who commit murder to justice. We know it began sometime after we became a self-governing country.
In our country which our lawyers made, one of these lawyers, speaking in defense of the pathetic justice system, said that Belizeans are guilty of hypocrisy when they clamor for harsh penalties for those who commit violent crimes, because when a loved one of theirs is accused of a serious misdeed, they seek out the best lawyer they can afford, to get them off. Indeed, many people get soft when the one going to the gallows or facing life imprisonment is their own. But there is no problem there, because we can afford for individuals to break down. In fact, that is expected. What we absolutely cannot afford is for the state to be soft too. And Belize is mashmelo soft. That’s the main root of our violence problem.
We are where we are now: a people in despair. It’s tough; our young men have many reasons to be angry, but they cannot let their anger lead them to commit violent acts. The best laid plans are wasted if there is violence in the neighborhood. It’s no chicken and egg story here. Development won’t come in a land where there is violence.
This violence in our country, there is poverty and lack of education and poor wealth distribution at its root, but the biggest cause of violence is a justice system that’s a miserable failure.
Facts about Belize going to the ICJ
It’s a fact that the Webster’s Proposals, the Heads of Agreement and the Ramphal/Reichler Proposals did not call for changing the Hondo to the Sarstoon and the Benque Viejo to Halfmoon borders of our country. The sinister Webster’s sought to create a situation where we would have needed to get our independence from both Great Britain and Guatemala.
Looking at the last proposal, the Ramphal/Reichler, the disappointing Guatemalans made it plain they wouldn’t entertain that, because there was no offer of land.
The deal for Belize to go to the ICJ was “signed, sealed and delivered” in December 2008, when we signed on to the compromis. What Belizeans agreed to in May 2019, 55% to 45% if I remember correctly, was fait accompli, a done deal 10 years previously. There are Belizeans who think we could have said no. Oy!
Ambassador Martinez explained the decision best. Taking a little liberty with his words, he said we are giving Guatemala an honorable discharge from their ugly claim. Where I agree with the ICJ naysayers is that we prostrated ourselves. Aiyayai, no country has ever put up its entire territory for adjudication! Daam yes our pride is wounded. But I don’t know what it gains us to hate Guatemala for what she made us do.
Guatemala has no land to get. They have no rights here. There are some good neighbor things that we could have agreed on without their mad claim. Hopefully when the court dispenses the sense, those over there who are bullies will stop being covetous.
From too much teaching to Colombia president’s inaugural address
I don’t know why this women’s caucus made such a long speech and felt they had to demand an apology. All they had to say was: we don’t like those words.
So, there are people who are “angry” with the church leaders for agreeing to have the weed referendum postponed. Grrr, but I’ll hold my disappointment there to allow me space for words that hopefully will elicit a Damascus moment in the intransigent set.
In his inaugural address, new Colombian president, Gustavo Petro, said: “It is time for a new international convention that accepts that the drug war has failed.” Petro said over a million Latin Americans have died in the 40 years of the drug war, that “the war on drugs strengthened the mafias and weakened the states… [that] the war on drugs has led states to commit crimes and has evaporated the horizon of democracy.”
Sedi, from 13 years of blanks to buckshot
In the last months of his 13 years as an elected representative of the people of Belize, Mr. Sedi Elrington blasted our failure to address poverty, especially in areas in Belize City, and since leaving office he has been writing regularly in The Reporter, offering ideas about how we could solve our many problems. It’s water under the bridge, the failure of the Barrow government in which he served for so many years. In these dark days in which we live, we have to read through his lines with the hope of finding something that can brighten our present situation.
In a recent column, Mr. Elrington said some very bad things about our justice system. He said that in the era when he sat as a Supreme Court judge, judges for the most part “were knowledgeable … respectful and scrupulously and patently fair … so fair that one could confidently predict the outcome of a case … that is no longer the case …” I will suggest to Mr. Elrington that if he loves and respects us, he should lay his information on the table, give Belizeans a chance to judge for themselves. I don’t think it helps us any for him to be making such serious accusations, and presenting no evidence.
In his most recent column, Sedi said some shocking things about life in some parts of Belize. I guess if mothers are taking their gay sons to strip clubs, it’s normal for some to use pornography to teach their daughters about sex. Whoo! I don’t know about you, but I am ashamed of my sins.