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Monday, March 30, 2020
Home Features “Vital Statistics” still bogged down by the past

“Vital Statistics” still bogged down by the past

The truth is that the Vital Statistics Unit should have fixed their game a long time ago. We have to believe that the department made no effort to correct the disenfranchisement of Belizeans during the last exercise, back in the late 1990s. There were people who got disenchanted and just walked away without resolving the issues. A lot of these same issues we failed to address have come back to haunt us.

Mr. Urban Reyes, the Chief Elections Officer during the last voter re-registration, in the 1990s, had much to say about the process in his paper, “VOTING for DEMOCRACY”. Mr. Reyes wrote in that paper:

“In 1996, the Commission again approached Government for the necessary funds to conduct the re-registration of electors exercise. This time the administration made a decision to conduct a national enumeration exercise. Although such decision was made only limited funds were provided for the activity…”

He went on to state, “In March of 1997, the ruling party lost in all seven municipalities. Immediately following this loss a Cabinet decision was made to implement the Commission’s earlier request for re-registration. The necessary legislation was put in place along with the associated funds…

“By the end of November 1997 the new register was approximately 48% of what it was before re-registration and that equated to approximately 66% of the voting age population. To date, 10th March 1998, the figure is approximately 69% of the voting age population.

“One of the major difficulties experienced during the re-registration exercise was that some applicants were unable to provide satisfactory proof of their citizenship and age…The re-registration exercise brought out the fact that the civil registry has not kept up with the times. The registrar of births and deaths has the most unenviable job, that of managing two employees to do manual searches in huge voluminous handwritten books. This, along with the fact that there were many instances where the Deputy Registrar in the rural areas for one reason or another did not forward vital information to the Central Registry in Belize City…

“In an effort to facilitate the registration process, the Election Management Body revived an old policy of allowing electors to register, who could provide a baptismal record along with primary school record or three affidavits of their birth, where at least one is given by a person older than the applicant.”

I can tell you firsthand about these handwritten registers. Penmanship was a subject in primary school and not everyone passed it. We know how the favoritism goes. We also know that in many instances the person who had the best penmanship was not the best with other necessary duties for the office. You couldn’t/shouldn’t get the job as registering officer just because you have the best penmanship, but to write the names down it is essential. The short of that is that some people who really ‘rait bad’, put down the names in the book.

Some time ago, my father-in-law, Elias Torres Banner, told me a story about the registration of the birth of his first sister. At the age of nine he and his three younger brothers lost their mother during a cholera epidemic. About a year later his father married again; the firstborn of the new union was a girl child, and he was sent by his father to register his sister.

Elias said his father wrote down the necessary information on a piece of paper, and gave him to take across the river to the registering officer. He said the registering officer looked at the name on the paper and then he went to his book of names. He said the registering officer looked up from the book and told him that his father had made a mistake¯because the stars said a child born on the date on the paper should be named ——.

My father-in-law said that later that day he had to go across the river again, because his father insisted that the name he had chosen for his daughter was the right one¯because that was the one he had chosen. And so the registering officer compromised. One name for his sister was the one his father had chosen, and the second name was the right name, according to the registering officer’s authoritative book of names.

For many years the registration of births was not an accurate process, especially in the countryside. There are Belizeans who were never registered. Many Belizeans have to depend on baptismal records for proof that they were born in Belize. There is a crazy mix-up with spelling of names because of people who couldn’t spell, people who preferred their own spelling, and people whose fingers are like crab claw.

In 2006, a VITAL REGISTRATION IN BELIZE MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING AND PROCEDURE MANUAL was produced by the Ministry of Health, Transport and Communication and Local Government and the Attorney General’s Ministry, for the purpose of reducing “data redundancy and improve the timeliness, reliability and accuracy of national indicators used for planning and decision making.”

“Registration of births and deaths has become a concern worldwide since data from this process are used to monitor key social, economic and political aspects of a country… It has been noted nationally, that our country under registration rate is high, and there is need to review methods to strengthen and develop an integrated vital registration system for all users and producers of these information. Vital registration in Belize is fundamental for the planning of resource allocation and services to be provided to the population, whether by the public system or by the private sector,” the manual said.

The present re-registration is proving that not enough effort was put in, to do what the people in charge recognized over a decade ago. The proof of this failure is the harassing many Belizeans are being put through in 2019, for their right to vote.

Cindy Crawford has regrets

Most men agree that the most exciting thing on earth since creation is the female body. I say, “since creation”, only for the fact that they weren’t here from the very beginning. If you don’t know that, just go to Mr. Henry Gordon and he will tell you the book in the Bible, the chapter and the verse.

Most women know that they are it. Consider now, there is a peak time for the voluptuous body. For some females, this peak holds for a while. Some females care only for the inner selves and their souls; they don’t really care about their bodies. Those ones eat what they want, sleep late when they want, and don’t like to sweat too much. For them their physical peak doesn’t last very long. We all have the right to choose.

Yes, there is this peak time, and she will never look this great again. Therein lies temptation for some kind of preservation. Someday down the road they’ll be like Sparrow’s Kyaroline and Josephine, but there was a time, ai, when they could have made young male knees buckle. If you don’t believe me about women kind, I know you will believe Minister Louis Farrakhan. He said on Saviors’ Day that things happen to a man when he looks at a woman’s body.

If my arithmetic doesn’t fail me, that’s why they were born with clothes on. We all know what happened in the garden. She was forbidden, yet she took her clothes off. I know someone (maybe the same person I wrote about earlier) who knows the book, chapter and verse of a Bible story that sounds almost identical to that one.

Ah, I read this Yahoo story this week – this Yahoo can have some really weird stories, but this isn’t one of them – yes, the Yahoo (story by Suzy Byrne) said they have heard about a former supermodel, Cindy Crawford, expressing regrets that she didn’t  take all her clothes off for a photo shoot. Miss Cindy reportedly said “I should have gone completely nude”, and “I look back at some of my old Playbïy pictures and I think, ‘Why wasn’t I walking around naked all the time?’”

Yaa, it’s pretty natural stuff for a young woman to be proud about her looks, and so have temptation. Some of them are constrained by society and some of them, I think, are constrained because they can’t limit who will be looking at them if their pictures go public. These are not deterrents for the private shoot.

We can expect more young women to take pictures in the birthday suit. There is some risk that such photos will become public fare because there are seven billion minds on the planet and some of these minds are very dishonest. Even money in a bank’s vault isn’t safe from devious people. People who get caught robbing a vault go to jail. People who expose what isn’t solely theirs should get punished.

Our culture needs to have more respect for privacy. People who violate the privacy of others think they are safe. The man isn’t born whose house doesn’t have glass. The man isn’t born who doesn’t have moments they want to keep private. Someone filled with the same hate or stupidity you have, can do you wrong. You can be brought to heel.

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