I must confess I believe women can truly make a difference in improving the world – but while I believe in the power of women – I too do not ever want to detract from the importance of men in harnessing and displaying true leadership. After all men are called to make the world a better place but it is after they mess things up that us women are forced to step in. Historically, men did us a dis-service by relegating women to the status of second class citizens and thereby idiotically they failed to realize that they shorted themselves because they could only be as strong as their “weakest” link. A true and equal partnership would have done the world more good. Now women must fight to elevate themselves to the equal status God always intended them to be and women must do it with respect to men and thus not to the chasm we are trying to close..
MEN – We are ALL equal!
Speaking about MEN – this Friday Belize bode Farwell to a true Belizean man who did not only talk the talk but also walked the walk of us all being equal. Dr. Leroy Taegar dead at 74 was a visionary and a man who obviously understood the need to elevate our brothers and sisters to a position of equality. I did not know him in his younger years and truly only got to interact with him in the past two years of his life. By then he was already ailing and then suffered his first stroke, but my first impression when I first met and spoke with him was that I was in the presence of a humble yet great man. He seemed very course around the edges but once he engages you into those conversations that go beyond the mundane then you realize that he has a genuine care for mankind and earnestly has great aspirations for others an his beloved Belize.
However, I surely learnt more about this iconic Belizean upon his death than I learnt in those two years… and I guess that is reasonable since his conversations never centered around him aggrandizing himself. At his memorial service, which was reflective of this man I felt hopeful and knew he had ensured he passed on the most important message – that we are all equal!
His instruction to his family was simple – to cremate him and sprinkle his ashes into our Caribbean shores… but no church service. The no church service was not because he did not believe and accept God as his savior but rather because he saw where denominational religion helped to divide people while indoctrinating them. He was totally against any form of the “divide and conquer” system and understood that a true relationship with God was a personal affair between a man and his creator… so unlike many who go about espousing piousness – he lived what he believed and even in death ensured that it was expressed.
As I listened keenly I cried tears of joy and sorrow – joy to know that in my lifetime there were still men who had principles and stood for what they believed even at the cost of being party-political outcasts. Men like Leroy Taegar who cared for others, mentored others, and most of all was willing to share his knowledge with others – he was selfless and forever working towards seeing our people liberated from the mental bondage brought on us by slavery, colonialism, no education and partisan politics. One of the songs song at this funeral which touched me was Imagine by Jon Lennon. Those words are deep and epitomized the dream of Leroy Taegar with lyrics such as “Imagine there’s no countries , it isn’t hard to do, nothing to kill or die for no religion, too. Imagine all the people living life in peace…imagine no possession I wonder if you can. No need for greed or hunger, a brotherhood of man…”
Creating mice and not men
But it is the greed that has turned men to mice and the system of the privileged preying on the weak seems to be a norm of life. Seeking equality and justice seems to be a utopist ideal because mankind and its greed and injustices to each other have served to demean our own. I use mice figuratively, because it is a strange animal – is can appear to be prey for larger creatures, they too are intolerable as they may invade houses, destroy crops and they can also cause such structural damage to any building and worst yet they even spread disease through their parasites and feces…yuck!
But even the hunter can become the hunted and men can fall from greatness in the blink of an eye… and this is the case of Johnny Briceño who one day was party leader and the Constitutional leader of the opposition. All eyes were on him but it is those same eyes that have scrutinized him, undermined him and found ways to tear him down.
Before Friday Oct 7, 2011 I had begun an article in which I was calling for the resignation of Johnny, not because I dislike him and mean ill for him but because as an on-the-fence observe I was seeing how he was not able to build his party and his recent moves just showed that the stars were not aligned in his favour. Contagiously, what I now call the Golding Flare has caught on in Belize and Johnny’s resignation mirrors Jamaican PM Bruce Golding’s decision to step down… he gave interesting reasons but the truth is we all know it is because he defended gang/drug-baron Dudus whom the US wanted extradited.. and you all know the rest of the bloody story.
Johnny in about a week caught the flare and I surmise the true reason for his demise is not fully his health… but I could be wrong… but rather it is greatly because of three major factors: 1. the Espat/Hyde factor have not supported him while the old Musa/Fonseca Factor has done everything to undermine him and he being insecure in his position has played into their hands; 2. his recent speech at the funeral of George Price did not sound like anything a statesman and much less a future PM would say at such solemn occasion especially seeing that as a successor of George Price all he had to do is be positive and praise his mentor but instead he allowed PM Barrow to steal his thunder; 3. and the fatal blow is his recent comment of the “millionaire club” because it suggest he knows that the past PUP politicians and cronies did rob this country of its wealth which are stored in offshore accounts …hmm… and instead of him telling them to be accountable for their acts, he is rather calling them to feed money into the party to support their upcoming work …. not palpable at all.
By the throw of a dice
Johnny was the perfect target for the UDP and this government and while as a person he is charming and far more compassionate, as a leader he went into battle with too many chips against him and the UDP propaganda machinery did not play to work against him until his demise. It thus seems as though by just the throw of a dice the PUP is in a new era – good or bad is yet to be seen… but it is one to keep an eye on.
It may be that now we will see the full uniting of the PUDP if we are to take for face value some obvious realities. It is no secret that I do not support the Ninth Amendment not because it gives majority share in our utilities to the state, but because of the wider all encompassing nature of Sec. 2 and then Sec. 69 and their outright threat to our already shaky democracy. I will admit there are key changes I would want to make to the Constitution – but it is surely not one which prevents me form asking the court to deem a constitutional provision incapable of being inconsistent with our constitution, thus void as is being provided by the news section 2(2). People I warn you by the introduction of this section ANYTHING in the Constitution can be changed – even if it is your basic rights .. I am not kidding nor exaggerating nor deceiving you… but sadly only time will tell.
However this brings me to the Ninth from the PUP perspective. Remember now that the official PUP position is that they do not support the Ninth Amendment, but do not have an in principle problem with “nationalization” or majority share as it has turned out to be. The very recent PUP position on the Ninth was August 22, 2011 as exposed by Briceño after the Council of Churches intervened. He said: “with section 2 where the Prime Minister now is adding a news section and when you look at that and the constitution – basically what is happening is that parliament is still going to be supreme over the constitution”
It is interesting for me to see now how Mark Espat, if remains party leader and as the interim party leader of the PUP will now juggle his balls (no pun intended) when Dean Barrow has given him credit for the creation of the Ninth Amendment.
In early July a joint press release issued by Espat and Hyde read:
And the Government should amend the Belize Constitution so that the major utilities including water, electricity and telephone are majority owned and controlled by the Government and people of Belize.
So Espat and Hyde threw out their position…
Barrow and his minister’s and SolGen have told the nation that the only way they can achieve this is by the inclusion of Section 2 and 69 in the Constitution, which in my professional opinion are the most offensive part.
Interestingly, Espat has never gone on record to clarify if his recommendation included the wholesale package of the Ninth Amendment as was originally proposed and remains, until it is taken back to the House, or if his intention was simply the principle of “nationalization” which he did not even get – because it’s a majority share that the Bill is about. But Barrow was crafty enough to weave a web around him and thus give credit to Espat/Hyde. This can work in PM’s favor because from the outside looking in it will not appear that Espat can back off on the position in his press release and his tacit support for the Ninth as it was rolled out. I guess, finally the line between the Government and the opposition will be blurred, if not removed totally.
But can Espat impose his press release view on the party he now leads? I will sit back and look with interest on how this seemingly conflict of interest in this matter will be resolved. Before Espat’s ascension into the seat of PUP party leader the government had an opposition voice to the Ninth, this may change.
The down side to the UDP of having Johnny gone, is that the next leader may not be as weak and an easy piñata to hit. If it is Espat, he is not a push-over and will turn tiger in their “a%#” and can also prove to be a force to reckon with unless their was a secret understanding and hand-shaking with the UDP as a result of the Ninth – Will the party feel Espat/Hyde can be trusted? Are they viewed as traitors?
Strategically speaking, I dare say it would have benefited the UDP not to throw this dice for this round so as to keep Johnny there and bring him down until near a general election when the PUP has no chance to recover…that could have guaranteed them a sure victory. However, the PUP now have a genuine opportunity to reform and re-energize, if they play their cards well and avoid two major pitfalls: 1. do to give any semblance of the resurrection of the maligned old-guard; 2) go back to their moorings of social justice and people first and so stop buying support but rather earn the respect of the voters… it is not all of us that are fanatic.
The PUP has been known to heal, unite and work to move their collective interest forward…. We’ll wait and see how this plays out….
Author: Audrey Matura-Shepherd