The children’s story of Pinocchio and his puppet-maker Geppetto for me was just a story when I was a little girl. But now as I am forced to go back to read kids’ stories for my three year old daughter, I now see that this story was meant to teach us lessons. Not just any lesson but lessons to carry through for life. They teach us about independence, control over us, power, deception, lying, false friends, and the need to take responsibility. But for each reader the story of Pinocchio has its own message.
However, this story has caused me to reflect and an internet search show that Pinocchio really was an allegory written in Italy and was not really intended to be for children but rather was a social commentary on the socio-political times and the disparity between the rich and poor. In the original version Pinocchio is hung to death in the end for the ills he did but in the revised version he is saved by the blue fairy…who gave him his wish and turned him into a real boy. In our society there are some parallel to our local circumstances.
Pulling the Puppet’s string using the Ninth Amendment
There is the Ninth Constitutional Amendment, which is espoused to be for one purpose alone and yet over-reaches like a tsunami to cover all else under the Constitution. I think I can step back and look at the progress on the Ninth Amendment and say two things are so glaringly obvious: one – those of us who unequivocally pointed out the assault it represented on our democratic system of government when it sought to usurp the role of the court have been exonerated by all the external experts who have since written and spoken about this Bill; and two – it is obvious the majority of our people are clueless as to what is the wider ramification of the Bill to their system of governance which is blatantly proven by the battleground that the so-called consultations have become.
On the latter both parties have totally politicized the process and the people in the middle who genuinely want to learn and have a discourse have been locked out. If statistics are right each party has the unwavering support of about 15 to 20% of the voting population which leaves some 60 to 70% on the fence ready to sway depending how they are persuaded…I don’t have figures of how many are disenchanted. Sadly even combined the party faithful cannot outnumber the non-fanatic fraction whom seem to be ruled by the party fanatics on both sides.
The consultations are such farce. People are threatened verbally or by letter or memos at work to go out and support it publicly if they want to keep their jobs. Others are told to just go and say “NO” or “YES” and whether they really fully understand what it is they are supposedly supporting is of least importance to their puppet masters. But maybe even more sad about all of this is the fact that these public shows only truly highlight an even bigger problem – that it is time to take a holistic look at how we are governed and what we really want our Constitution to represent. With 44%of the population living below the poverty line also indicates that we are in really dangerous time socio-politically.
Street puppets have come to life
But amidst the battle of power over the Ninth Amendment there is still a greater battle on the streets of Belize and in the homes of our children. It is beyond sad to hear the weekly updates of who has been shot and killed and who has been freed of charges either because the witness who can give evidence has recanted or there is a nolle prosequi.
The “displaced youths” on the streets, like Pinocchio, wants a life of their own with dreams and aspirations which “Geppetto” cannot give. Like the folkloric character in this kids’ story our Prime Minister has failed to placate the street gangs and they still terrorize our streets and sit back every weekday evening to flick on the TV and admire the mastery of their “bloody” work. There crimes are so well planned because they make sure they hit prime time news and the media laps it up and plays it out on that little magic box or flat screen. But while at least a shooting a week is sure to be featured, with similar certainty the killers also know they will get off as the systems of investigation and prosecution are so darn weak that the deterrence they are supposed to trigger is no more.
Now the sexual predators want to capitalize on the same good fortune of the killers and they now are prowling the home of our children and too many of the culprits are the little girls own fathers, uncles, and family friends. I guess they say if the killers could get away why not them – after all they are not killing anyone. But sadly they do not realize that an assault of that nature is worst than death because and innocent child is left to live this trauma the rest of her life and what makes her “female” by nature is always a reminder of what was robbed of her for the rest of her life.
If we are serious about abating any of these offences lets – investigate them properly, try them quickly and effect the punishment swiftly. But I call that we revisit the penalties for sexual offences and the rules of evidence that govern sexual offences against children. If our females are damaged they cannot be expected to be full functioning members of society – much less mothers and nurturers of well-balanced families, which is the structural foundation of our society.
Whose has Pinocchio nose in Belize
But if we all want to be honest we can look around and see who all now has bigger longer nose both in government and in our opposition party and in the larger community that support their system and machinations. So let me explore some blatant lies that have been told and you decide who the nose fits:
- The ninth amendment is only about nationalization – did you know it is not, that is why the word “nationalization” is not even found in the Bill – rather it is about “majority-share”, and if the Bill is so right, then why give in to the demand of those independent entities opposing it;
- Cell phone registration will help with the growing rate of violent crimes – not so! The police as well as the PM knows who the killers are, which gang they belong to and to some extent the level of criminal activity they are involved in – after all the police, PM and member of Cabinet have all met with these “gangs” and given them legitimate status of a formal group with bargaining power;
- The consultations reflect the will of the people – wow – so then why the people cannot ask questions, only say yes or no, why do they have to wear political T-shirts and get money to attend?
- Bribes did not pass when oil contracts were signed by our government under the PUP – so why the US Embassy will even entertain the allegations and why the complainant would give details of how the money passed and which company was used to legitimize it?
- This present administration said in its 2008 manifesto that it will “offer shares in a national oil company to ordinary Belizean so the masses of the people can collect dividends and have a personal stake in the national petroleum wealth” – yet so how come only BEL. BTL and BWS are in majority share? Not even nationalization – and who are really benefitting personally from these?
- The laws will be changed to ensure political leaders can now be criminally charged for mismanagement of public funds – but where is the law allowing that now, how will we get them convicted?
- Both political parties are all about doing good for the people – so how come both accepted money from Ashcroft, oil companies, and special interest? How this has served the people? Where is the campaign financing reform legislation?
These are only a few to start with. Maybe I should start a site named Belize’s Pinnochio.com so we can post all the lies fed to us by our leaders. Sad for us it is not as thought we can claim one political party is better than the other, but rather that we have to choose the less of two evils…God Save Belize!
Pinocchio is sent to school
As part of the story Pinocchio is sent to school but on his way he is distracted by music that leads him to a puppet show and then hijacked by a cat and a fox who tricked him to take away his money.
Ironically, the cat and fox indeed represent our two political parties. The fox and cat tells Pinocchio that if he buries the gold coins he has (that he should go give his father) at the Field of Miracles it will grow into a tree bearing thousands of gold coins. Sounds familiar – its like give me your votes and I will make life better for you… Foolish boy, he believed and as he walked along the way the cat and fox dressed as bandits ambushed him try to rob him of the coins and later hang him and left him for dead.
Only us the people know what all we have been robbed or attempted to be robbed of by our successive governments, if it is not our social security money which is used for all sort of special interest, or our rights through laws and constitutional amendments, or our privacy through laws that are obscure; or our justice system through pressure on our judiciary, or our safety through lack of training and resources in our investigation system, or our children’s higher education true party-faithful scholarships programs only, or our natural resources through development plans that damage our environment or even our minerals through laws and contracts that benefit oil companies and the list can go on and on.
One lesson was that Pinocchio needed to educate himself and be more discerning so that he cannot be tricked… he ended up working very hard with a farmer and earning money which he used to help his father and the fairy and thus he is later rewarded for taking charge of his destiny.
I can only say to my people lets uplift ourselves, let us inform and educate ourselves…. It is in our interest – it is never in the interest of the oppressor to see you rise above their shackles… so you have to do it for yourself… we have to do it… only so our puppet strings can be cut, and then our innocence and naivety cannot be used against us. I don’t know which fairy will save us and grant us our wish to be indeed real active and enlightened citizens of our country.., but our indomitable spirit within can surely suffice.
I urge you to go back and read the full original version of Pinocchio and consider its parallel to our social circumstances in our beloved Belize.
Author: Audrey Matura-Shepherd