I write because I want to be part of the historians of this country and thus I have to record what is happening in this country in real time through my writings. I don’t want to have the story told through the eyes only of the leaders who have corrupted the country and have benefitted from corruption. We the people, who live daily lives struggling to make it a better country and who have a greater vision for a greater country, need to place in the annals of history the reality of where we are and how we got here and what is being done, if anything, to change things for the better or the worse. Change is constant, and be it for good or bad, change keeps happening.
Last week I wrote about the agony I felt as a Belizean, when I read in real time about the many news reports on the new murders and body count. Our words of lament are meaningless if we do not act, and I feel that we the people are not acting enough, if at all. It is as if we are all paralyzed and unable to break from this sleep paralysis that we are going through. I ask what can I say or do to motivate our people to act en masse to halt the cruel reality we are living throughout this country.
Police lies and more lies
It’s absurd that the police department is part of the cover-up when it uses statistics saying violent crimes this year are 18% down compared to last year, instead of compared to 1994 when there were only nine murders for the year. However, they have moved the goal posts and what constitutes major crimes. Sadly, statistics can be manipulated, as our people are likewise being manipulated. When did we jump from the single-digit murder count to the double digits, and now to the triple digits? How did we evolve in the last decade and a half from being a country where there was not even a murder per month to one where there are up to a dozen murders per month? June and July right now seem so deadly because the murders are not just single murders, as we have had double murders, triple murders and up to a quintuple murder. Also we have had the most senseless and gruesome murders; thus as the numbers increase, the nature of the killings also worsen.
July is no different from June, because we have had the recent senseless killing of a teacher, Allyson Major, at the hands of the police, for allegedly driving “up-stop”. Sounds like an action movie. Action: a car chase downtown…. Speeding vehicle being pursued by the police…. Shots fired at the vehicle as crowd scrambles…. Driver shot in the head and chaos ensues. Sirens, yellow-tape, medics, police, by-standers, all on the scene and the script continues, as the driver loses consciousness within one hour of being shot. No weapon found on him. Imagine! The lie is that he provoked the incident … ha???? Provocation using a vehicle???? Provocation is a defense for murder, so is the use of provocation an admission that Allyson Major was murdered? He did not shoot at the pursuing police officers, so why did they have to shoot, and why shoot where his head was most likely located?
Deadly headlines dominate!
As I write, the headlines are deadly again this week. No hope and joy of summer news and children’s laughter and fun fun fun… only cries for justice as more children become fatherless. Here are a few News5 headlines for today, 17th July, 2019, that you must read and let the reality on our streets sink in:
1. Vendor Murdered in Belize City; Police Don’t Know Why He Was Killed: Fifty-three-year-old Jose Hilario Diaz was inside his wooden and zinc structure on Cemetery Road in Belize City, where he owns a small clothing and footwear business, when he was killed around 4:30 p.m. A man walked up, pulled out a gun and fired a single gunshot in the jaw and Diaz fell and died on the spot.
2. Ghanaian Cabbie Emmanuel Ampomah is Murdered By His Fare: 52-year-old Ghanaian taxi driver, Emmanuel Ampomah, is usually stationed across from KHMH in his silver Toyota four-runner SUV. On Tuesday night he picked up two men and was driving in the Buttonwood Bay area, Belize City, heading towards Seashore Drive, when he was fatally stabbed. Per surveillance camera footage his two passengers were seen fleeing the vehicle and the SUV then plunged into the drain near a fence, after he lost control of the vehicle after being fatally stabbed inside his taxi. An eight-inch knife was retrieved from the driver’s seat.
3. Nixon Pinto is Stabbed to Death During Antelope Street Beef: Around 6:00 p.m. Pinto and 19-year-old Jovi Hernandez, got into an altercation at the Lord Ridge Cemetery in the vicinity of Western Avenue. Hernandez, a resident of Hattieville, used a sharp instrument to inflict a single stab wound to the right side of Pinto’s chest. Pinto was transported to the K.H.M.H., where he was pronounced dead on arrival.
4. Fake Cops Target Mayor Earl Trapp in Brazen Home Invasion: Mayor Trapp and his wife were inside their house in San Ignacio, when armed thieves, who were posing as police officers, came knocking on their door and told the mayor they were on a routine mobile patrol but stopped at his house to get water because they were feeling dehydrated. Believing their story, Mayor Trapp unlocked the burglar-barred door and thereafter they held him and his wife at gunpoint and a struggle ensued, but the men eventually got away with his safe containing about $3K US dollars and $1K Bz Dollars.
5. Police Move Quickly to Defuse Dispute between Warring Groups in Sandhill Village: According to police there is a drug and turf feud that led to the shooting of Ivan Hyde, who was shot multiple times Tuesday morning. He was treated and released from the K.H.M.H. on Tuesday and investigators are rounding up members of the feuding groups to de-escalate the situation and prevent any retaliation.
6. 17-Year-Old Charged with Manslaughter for Fidel Bardalez’s Death: On Saturday, 13th July, 2019, 36-year-old Fidel Edilberto Bardalez was found brutally murdered in Alta Vista Village, Stann Creek District. He had been beaten and chopped to death by a minor with whom he was socializing earlier, when they got into a fight, which resulted in the minor using a machete to chop Bardalez to death. The minor was arrested and charged with manslaughter.
These are only the news reports for one day, and I still did not deal with the abetment to murder charges against one of my colleagues from the legal fraternity, Oscar Selgado, nor the narco-plane that was found burnt in Blue Creek Village, Toledo District, nor the major marijuana and money bust made on the PSWG highway, nor the updates on the biggest land scam in Belize which implicate officials of our government and sitting members of parliament.
However, it would be negligent of me not to address the headlines about the biggest land fraud in Southern Belize, known as the Sanctuary Bay Enterprise and other names. This headline is loaded, as there is so much information to be uncovered about this scheme, and the players are both within and outside the Government. The recent threat by the PM Barrow through his same law firm from which he presumably still receives benefits as a partner, seems to indicate a need to quiet any and everyone at all cost.
To have to go to the extent to issue a letter and threaten to slap all local media houses with defamation suits before any has even published anything reeks of desperation to suppress information, in my books. The irony of it is that he did not go to the USA to hire himself some big-time lawyers and sue the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) for having stated what he calls untruths about him. In the same way he got a law firm here to issue written threats to the local media, he needs to go do the same to the FTC, which is the source of the information he says is defamatory.
He knows as a lawyer he can also choose to join in the lawsuit of the FTC and have his name cleared. He can even ask to be named as an interested party, or on behalf of either party, give evidence to dispute any involvement. But he is not taking these practical steps that can truly clear his name and that of any of his ministers, if he really wanted.
Instead, he comes to poor little Belize, where he thinks he is master and king, and is cracking his proverbial whip on the local media, which does not have the monies to hire big legal guns, as his firm is the biggest and possibly the richest law firm in Belize, but we may never know its net worth!
Mind you, the law requires that all politicians declare all their assets! You think any government department dares to go audit the powerful Barrow & Williams law firm and check his declarations and search the proper records to determine the money value and to follow the money?
Sadly in Belize, our system is designed to operate under the belief that people will have principles and ethics, so there is no need to spell out all provisions in law. However, the reality is quite the contrary, and this has been proven time and time again.
Further, our system of a two-party government is not conducive to accountability and transparency, because it’s not in the interest of either party to put in place any legal changes to ensure that an Opposition can serve as a check and balance, or that there are strong institutions to ensure accountability.
On the contrary, when in power, these various parties have done all possible to quash the effectiveness of systems of transparency and institutions seeking accountability, and have not made way for the Opposition to be diligent. Only when the party is in Opposition does it lament, but once in government, it forgets the impotence it suffered while in Opposition!
This government has been one that has been most effective at ensuring the destruction of institutions. They have been able to effectively infiltrate unions (with the exception of two), and entities under Government control, such as BEL, BTL, BWS, because they appoint boards and managers who do their bidding.
Those same employers are able to either intimidate or buy over workers with favours or place them in yearly contracts, and thus joining a union can result in your yearly contract not being renewed. Sadly, no one is fighting these injustices because we now have weak institutions.
Correction to an error
In last week’s column I made a terrible error in stating that the attorney of Barrow and Williams who has gone to court for Sanctuary Belize under its several names, along with Rodwell Williams, is Ms. Tanya Moody, instead of Lissette Staines. I sincerely apologize to Ms. Moody for such an error, as I wish to at all times be fully accurate. I cannot figure out how I confused her name with the name of her other colleague at the same law firm, as I know both equally.
Upon realizing the error, I reached out to Ms. Moody and acknowledged the error and apologized, as there was no malice in the said error. I know from court records that in connection with my case, she did not go to court, as my court orders, which I went to review, show that only Rodwell Williams and Lissette Staines made such an appearance in connection with my case.
As I mentioned to Ms. Moody when I wrote her, her only involvement, according to the material I have, was the brokering of the sale agreement for lots at Sanctuary Belize per records of a mutual client whose matter I dealt with, and from whom I got permission to share this bit of information. So I truly apologize for the error and hope it caused her no harm.
As we keep writing the history of our country, through our personal accounts and experiences, I say our words are meaningless, if we do not have the fortitude to stand up and take action to make changes.
Stand up, Belize!