Just as you can’t develop a nation’s economy during a pandemic, you can’t develop a part of a city during a murder spree, which is the story of Southside and inner Northside Belize City. It is just incredible what our leaders have allowed to happen in our country. If there were 1,500 murders, as some estimate, during the years of the last administration, then there could be as many as 1,500 dead people walking about Belize, because to take a human life is to die.
Almost everyone knows that the big story here is poverty, and our leaders’ great guilt is their failure to deliver for the people. In the absence of good leadership, only the people can save the people, but the people can’t save themselves in an environment that is dominated by fear and sorrow.
I remember when I was a very young man working at HHL (Hummingbird Hershey Ltd.), a cacao plantation by the Sibun River, that my boss gave me at least one, maybe two men who were guilty of the crime, to supervise. The one who I know for sure was convicted of the crime was a sixtyish man who had done twenty years in jail. He worked alone. The other was from across the line, and it is another supervisor and the workers at HHL who told me to be careful around him because he had come over to escape the law. That man, about forty, was in charge of a gang that had come to do a contract.
I had a respectful relationship with the younger man; and I had a good relationship with the older man, though I didn’t banter with him as much as I did with others on the farm.
There are two things that happen when the “rehabilitated” murderer is returned to society, and one of them isn’t indifference. There is caution/fear, and there is adulation. Everything we do in this world has a flip side, but it would seem that the human rightists aren’t aware of that.
In the interest of space, I sometimes cut off my thoughts, but I’ll add this about rehabilitation before anyone thinks I’m wholesale against it. Nyet. That old man was remorseful, and we don’t know the circumstances of his crime. There can be rehabilitation, but I think if you are “rehabilitated” and you get your freedom, you should make your life away from populated areas, like the heroes in the movie Shawshank Redemption.
The UDP minister who said the UDP had failed to deliver for the young people of Belize City had some ideas about saving inner city youth. Some Belizeans took offense at the suggestion that we give the Police Commissioner’s job to someone from abroad; they described it as not nationalistic, but when it comes to the most terrible crime, and all that it does to your people, nationalism takes a back seat — get the job done.
Many say that the present commissioner is doing a good job, me too, but at those junctures where he has been frustrated, a Barbadian, Jamaican, or Trinidadian police commissioner would have threatened to let it all hang out, thereby forcing a serious response from our political leaders. I had my differences with Sedi, but never about his sincerity, and unlike a lot of people who win elections and don’t know a whit about good leadership, I believe he had some understanding of what it takes to get the job done. Maybe he did spend time with the great hero, Philip Goldson, as he claimed.
Many leaders, they go and read Machiavelli, and while it is good to investigate every source to improve yourself, the focus of his writings that I’ve read, is only on winning and holding on to power, not about delivering our people from poverty and crime. If you don’t know, a good leader loves to serve, a good leader loves to listen and observe, and a good leader wants for his or her people to be happy. He/she tells the people the truth, except at those rare times when ih haffu lai.
A leader who wants to deliver for their people knows the impact of foul murder on a people, knows that it is all negative, and so they put the brake on it by any means necessary.
The spike — was it the buses or the election?
I’m with the move by the new authorities to limit the number of passengers on buses, something the old authorities should have done a long time ago. There are stories that some passengers were not pressured when they took off their masks on the bus, a violation that absolutely should not have been tolerated.
All the evidence is that the major mode of transmission of the virus is through the air; the buses carry the most Belizeans and so everything must be done to make them as safe as possible. Limiting the number of passengers is an important measure, but we also have to consider the problem that arises when traveling in rainy weather. At the beginning of the pandemic, my sister, whom I usually travel with to Belize City once each week, and I agreed that she would shut down the AC in her vehicle and we would travel with the fresh air that comes in when the windows are opened.
When it rains the buses travel with their windows closed, and when that happens the air inside there can be a hotbed of disease, maybe even worse than it is in an air-conditioned space. There were a lot of rainy days in Belize from mid-October to early November, and so the buses were traveling with the windows closed much of the time. This might have contributed to the spike in cases in November and December, as much as the election season did.
The authorities might contemplate shutting down the bus system when the days are rainy. Our professionals at the weather bureau know their business; they could provide the information to the authorities so that they make the call in the evenings, for the upcoming day. Hopefully we don’t have many such days in the next few months.
Another solution would be for buses to travel with their front door and backdoor opened when it is raining. When the front door of a bus is open, it allows some fresh air to come in and it blocks much of the rain. An opened front door and back door would allow fresh air to flush through the bus, though it would be a little dangerous for passengers at the front and at the back, if they are careless. Covid-19 is a bad disease; some experts say it is 3-4 times worse than the flu, and it is also terrible for our economy, so we must fight it with every tool we have.
Respect to three heroes
I take off my hat to acknowledge the passing this week of our most famous novelist, Zee Edgell; a famous government minister from the self-government days, Fred Hunter; and George Gonzalez, an adopted son who was an indefatigable defender of our environment. Thanks, respect, and RIP.
I believe it was Pastor Scott Stirm on Louis Wade’s Plus TV morning show that started touting the virtues of Ivermectin in the fight against Covid-19. Many in the religious crowd have bought in, and now it looks like our medical people have too.
The information I have from my independent sources says unlikely, but not impossible. For the record, the drug is antiviral, and besides its original use, which is to control parasites in livestock and pets, it has been used to treat river blindness and experimentally to treat dengue. Ah, lemon grass, ginger, papaya leaf and garlic are known antivirals too.