I wanted to wait for the festivities to simmer down before I put my thoughts out to my fellow Belizeans. I do not know how you will receive my speech or how it will be scrutinized, but these are my heartfelt convictions.
I heard some of the speeches and for the most part heard a lot of pretty flowers, shiny gems and smelt nice perfume that all masked the reality that our nation faces today, 33 years and a couple days old. I won’t go into the pretties too much, you know that is not me. My idea is to point out the issues we face today because they are there, they are real and they need to be discussed not hidden. It is only through knowing and understanding that we can find real world solutions to them.
The one that stood out to me was the BPF address, not speech; Mrs Marin addressed the issues at the core of our plight as we move ahead as a nation.
In opening she addressed the issue of Guatemala and their claim on Belize and some other issues that I have spoken about over time as well.
The month of September has given us reasons to Celebrate, ever since the Historic September of 1981. Almost 33 years ago, Belize was granted Independence from Great Britain, to be a free and sovereign nation, recognized by the United Nations and its allies; we have a signed treaty that delineates our borders, this is factual, not artificial; yet today we hear of a signed Compromis that is asking us to vote for a referendum to go to the ICJ regarding our sovereignty! This is not our fight! Why should we take on a claim that was already settled by the world’s recognition of our nation, with all its territory intact?
We have allowed our enemy to divide us through party colors…. Greed has poisoned the souls of our leaders, They make us believe we hate those brothers and sister who think differently from us , We have been blinded by Red and Blue Flags…and allowed them to trample our rights .
More than party loyalty we need unity. More than flags our people need food, jobs, and new careers. More than promises we need hope. More than political manifestos we need a sound National Plan; without these, life will continue to be violent and harsh, Our youth will struggle to find its way and our people will lose faith!
Let us fight to free ourselves from partisan bondage – to do away with our common enemy, greed, corruption, abuse of power. Let us fight for a Country that punishes crime, a Country where free education and development of sustainable industries will lead to happiness and food on our tables. Belizeans! , For Our Children, let us all unite! For the loved ones we have lost to crime, Let us Unite ! For Hope , for truth, justice and Prosperity , Let us Unite ! For the Dream of a Better Belize, Let us Unite!
Without any delay, here is my attempt at addressing you my fellow Belizeans.
What is Independence?
The dictionary describes independence as:
- the state or quality of being independent.
- freedom from the control, influence, support, aid, or the like, of others.
Our Independence was defined when we took the oath of working constantly toward a bright and prosperous future for all Belizeans, from the smallest child to the oldest citizen also for the welfare of the poor, oppressed and the exploited; but we strayed from that oath.
It is a time to redefine our plans to rebuild our nations character and that of our own. When we put the interests of our nation and people first, Belize can be taken to newer heights. Independence should be a festival of freedom, growth and inspiration; together we can ensure that every year is exactly that.
A quote that no Belizean should live without, it was one of the statements made in 1950 and still holds true up until today, it will continue to be a true statement until those words have been made into reality. We as a Belizean people need to stop playing the game of Politics and start a new game where all Belizeans are one in the same. I ask all politicians to read this quote and make every effort to bring to reality what was envisioned in those words. It seems that somewhere along the way, this dream was lost in the midst of greed, corruption and victimization.
It is time that we make a stand for a better future and keep these words in our hearts…
“We believe our cause is just. Our strength is in our weakness. Freedom loving peoples look on with sympathy as we struggle with all our hearts and with all our strength for better living conditions and for control of our financial affairs. The struggle may be long, hard and fierce. But the thing to do is to keep a level head as we rise up in courageous and legitimate resistance against economic tyranny and oppression.”
– George Cadle Price
A short history.
Politics in Belize has always been limited to the rich and/or attorney or those that can follow orders without question. Seldom has anyone been allowed that was not rich, an attorney, can follow orders or someone with great ideas and the knowledge to fulfill them. I have seen time and again where standard bearers are hand picked based on how popular they are with the people just to gain that seat then they are pushed to the back of the line not to be heard of and if they do become vocal and do their jobs they are given the boot, the most shining examples of this are
- Philip Goldson – struck down because he lived an anti-corruption way of being and was later to be booted out of his party that he started alongside Dean Lido for his beliefs and honesty to the people.
- Marcel Cardona – put on the back bench in a corner because he spoke out on the corruption and rot in the UDP party. Basically kicked out but not let go so they did not loose that seat and power control.
A long hard 33 years and what do we have to show for it? Sub-par healthcare, average education system, an economy based of borrowing instead of GDP, an oil industry that pays the international companies leaving Belizeans poorer daily and a government steps away from a full militarized dictatorship.
Belize was declared Independent of Britain in 1981; but we have never attained true independence, as even today we are on bended knees in dependency to the International Financial Complex. We are dependent on the US, Taiwan, Venezuela and other nations and institutions for our daily survival at the expense of each and every one of us that are breaking our backs to make ends meet, while the Belizean political complex with it’s friends and families circles live like Kings and Queens. We have always borrowed our structure from other nations, be it our Laws and Constitution, Education, policing or others without taking any real time to dissect what they include and how it will affect us. For the past 33 years, we have been under a political hierarchy that allows for politicians to do as they please; our system is setup on a self-contradictory circle which has been used to exploit Belize with no repercussion.
One example is the selling of our Belizean Nationality:
(3) No person shall be entitled under the provisions of this Part to be a citizen of Belize or be granted citizenship of Belize if such person shows any allegiance to or is a citizen of a country which does not recognise the independence, sovereignty or territorial integrity of Belize
But yet we have Guatemalan citizens getting citizenship and their children becoming citizens at birth, yet as this screen grab of the Guatemalan Constitution states that no matter where you are born you ARE Guatemalan. And they have more rights in Belize than born Belizeans that emigrated for a better life or whatever the reason was. Reading the news recently, Special Constable Danny Conorquie was shot an killed execution style by Guatemalans, ON BELIZEAN SOIL at Caracol and all we got was a press release and condolences; while when Guatemalans that illegally enter Belize to rape and pillage get killed by our Military in self defense, they get paid handsomely and our Defenders are reprimanded for doing their jobs. Then we have those wanting Diplomacy and hiding their hands so as not to let Guatemala and the world see us as aggressors. How many more incursions of our borders will we stand by and watch? How many more of our people will need to be killed? How much more monies will need to be paid to Guatemalan criminals? How much longer will the world stand by and watch all this happen before action is taken either by our Government or the world? I mean it’s not like we have an international organization right in the middle of and seeing it all right?
The intricate web of monetary slavery we weave.
Our nation has been and I see us remaining a nation of borrowers. Just like a habitual spender that never knows how to control his/her spending and keep racking up the credit cards until there is no room to go in any direction and the banks start to take it all back. Let’s look at Greece for a moment because it is an example I have used in the past of what we do not want to end up like. They totaled debt that they could not pay back and after bailouts and other allowances the International Financial complex basically said “That’s it, we’re coming for our pound of flesh and we are setting up shop in your nation.” They literally took over Greece and dictated what the Government did.
Did you happen to notice this segment by the IMF toward Belize? I did …
“Staff encouraged the authorities to undo their recent commitment to allocate half of the annual growth in recurrent revenue to raise public wages” the report goes to say. They also advised the Government of Belize to “freeze spending on goods and services and to limit the wage bill and wage-related outlays, as well as remove exemptions and zero-ratings from the General Sales Tax (GST), to collect more than 1–2 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of additional non-oil revenue”.
Here is the Summary:
- Outlook and risks. The economy will remain vulnerable over the medium term, with sluggish real GDP growth, rising public debt and widening external current account deficits. International reserves could decline to uncomfortably low levels. The financial system would continue to be hampered by high NPLs and low capital buffers, especially at a systemic bank. Main fiscal risks include a court decision that could lead to a larger than expected compensation to the former owners of the nationalized companies, weaknesses in a systemic bank, and the cost of the new public bank.
- Focus of the Consultation. Discussions focused on measures that would place public debt on a sustainable path; address weaknesses in the financial system, particularly in a systemic bank; buttress external sector resilience; and enhance competitiveness and inclusive growth.
- Key policy advice.
- Improve the primary fiscal balance to about 4.5 percent of GDP starting in 2015. This could be achieved mainly by allowing spending on goods and services to rise only in line with inflation; containing the expansion in the wage bill; requiring public workers to contribute to their pensions; and by widening the tax base and strengthening revenue administration. Active debt management, including refinancing of expensive debt with low-earning deposits (essentially from PetroCaribe), would support these efforts.
- Address banking sector vulnerabilities through improving capital buffers.
- Improve public financial management (PFM) to contain low-quality spending, strengthen budget formulation, preparation, and execution, and improve the coverage and accuracy of budget documents.
- Further improve the business environment to attract more private investment, boost competitiveness, and enhance job-creating and inclusive growth.
- Implementation of staff advice. Implementation of recent staff advice is mixed. The breathing room provided by the debt restructuring was not used to improve the primary fiscal balance. The authorities plan to review exemptions and zero-ratings under the GST. (1)2014 Article IV Consultation-Staff Report http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/cat/longres.aspx?sk=41914.0
The leadership pocket.
For decades we have lived under a system that prefers to point the finger of blame and make excuses instead of developing real world solutions to issues plaguing our nation and people. We have been given Amendments that allow Government full control of the Constitution; politicians have been given absolute authority via the “ministerial discretion” clause. Whenever an issue is brought to light, politicians are quick to utter the famous words “well xxx do it too so…” or as Dean Barrow put it.. “Tit fu Tat and Butta fu Fish” or even the one Said Musa said.. “Dis weh blow ova like wah lee breeze”.
Leadership should be about asking meaningful questions…
- Will my decision help the nation or hurt it?
- Will our motto be in the country’s interest?
- Are we safeguarding Belize for future generation?
Unfortunately today, we are faced with leadership that asks questions like,
- What does it mean for me?
- What do I have to gain from this?
and if the answer is nothing or not immediately they ask Why should I even bother?
Today we are burdened with the failures of past leadership that has driven our nation into a debt so immense that we are struggling to make ends meet; our nation is hemorrhaging and slowly dying as we allow it to be pillaged of it’s resources. We have oil in our nation but yet we pay immensely for the byproducts, we see little to nothing in return and corrupt politicians squander the little bit that we do hear about. Our farmers are being shoved aside while international companies come in with free reign to take what rightfully belongs to Belizeans, our local sugar cane farmers have been sold out to Green Tropics and our national Sugar Company is being replaced to feed the greed of the international system. Farmers are being left to fend for themselves, families that have made loans to finance their farms will be left with loans they will not have income to pay because of these measures being put in place. Tell me brothers and sisters, how will our farmers keep their livelihood and their financials up to date and alive? This is the by-product of all these international trade agreements we keep signing into.
Who built Belize?
Realize that our nation has not been built by politicians or governments; it has been built by all Belizeans; farmers, educators, mothers, fathers, social workers and others on the ground; it has been built by each and every one of us that have come before, that is today and it will continue to be built by future generations, should we leave a good foundation for them on which to build of course. Where we are and what we have achieved is not to be credited to any leader or party but the people that have stood shoulder to shoulder throughout our short history, the ones that toil the land and work our fingers to the bones to keep our homes running. It is credited to the mothers that raise their families, send children to school, keeps food on the table, pays the bills and makes ends meet with minimum wages.
We have been plagued recently with an era of rape, abuse, murders and hosts of other crimes including the sale of our Belizeanism and the institution of a new age Nazi Gestapo Regimen called the Gang Suppression Unit (GSU). When someone is abused or raped today we hang our heads in shame of what our nation and people have become, we find excuses as to why it happened instead of finding solutions to stop the practice and empower victims. I want to ask each of you reading today; if you have children, be alert at all times of them. Ask where are you going? When will you be back? Meet your children’s friends and keep and open relationship with them where they can be comfortable to discuss issues with you. I ask communities to look out for the children when you are out and about. This needs to be done to boys and girls, girls get asked lots of questions but boys are treated different and we must realize that boys are abused as well and it can happen to your little boy too. Remember the days when communities would look after the children of others and you could leave your door open when running errands and a neighbor would watch your house until you got back?
As members of society we must educate ourselves on the laws that govern our nation, we have a social responsibility to each other brothers and sisters alike. We cry today that the youths with the guns are terrorists or gangsters, but they are also someone children; I ask and challenge us all to ask the youths why they choose to walk that road, understand their dilemmas and try to offer council and help where you can. Every parent must take responsibility for their children and know why they are misguided and would kill innocent people or choose violence to solve their issues. I want to challenge the youths today to step back and think about where you came from and where you want to go, then decide if where you are today will get you there. Imagine how beautiful our nation would be if youths chose to pick up a tool and work instead of a gun to spill blood across the land. Realize that violence has not granted you any favors except retaliation and more violence against yourselves and your fellow youth.
We have for whatever reason surrendered ourselves to tensions and divisions, we have become a nation divided, we must once again pick live a communal lifestyle, how much longer will we remain divided and suffering? Let us move forward together and resolve in our hearts that to start with, for the next 10 years we shall become a nation free from the tensions that divide us and draw us to violence against each other; we start to find ways around the tensions of separatism, discrimination, racism, social and racial superiority and other such ills that plague our nation. Let us see how much headway and strength we can get from peace, unity and brotherhood regardless of color, race, creed or sex. We are called to love one another without looking back to see who approves or disapproves, who will think better of us for it or if the person is worthy of our love and acceptance.
The African tribes have a saying that I live by and want to share with you as spoken by Archbishop Desmond Tutu:
One of the sayings in our country is Ubuntu – the essence of being human. Ubuntu speaks particularly about the fact that you can’t exist as a human being in isolation. It speaks about our interconnectedness. You can’t be human all by yourself, and when you have this quality – Ubuntu – you are known for your generosity. We think of ourselves far too frequently as just individuals, separated from one another, whereas you are connected and what you do affects the whole world.
When you do well, it spreads out; it is for the whole of humanity.
Let us shun all the ills that have plagued our nation for decades and resolve to move forward with a clean sale and goals of a brighter, prosperous future for ALL Belizeans; let’s resolve to take our nation forward once again shoulder to shoulder. I ask from all our brothers and sisters in Government service to put back the elite status that comes with the word service because it has lost it’s power and identity; being in these positions is not a job but rather a service. Let us stand together for the welfare of the nation and our fellow Belizeans.
We have all seen the poverty, the disillusionment of our nation, the victimization, the raping and killing of our little boys and girls, the failure of our leadership and more for the past 33 years. Today I come before you a fellow Belizean and implore that we raise our heads, straighten our backs and stand shoulder to shoulder again in unison and join forces again, brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, farmers, educators, all Belizeans at home and in the Diaspora; lift up and take our country forward.
Economic resources should be used to improve of our people, for the well being of the poor and for ensuring that our nation can sustain itself in the future. We live in a time where everyone has a phone but not everyone has a bank account with savings for a rainy day. Each person pays into Social Security for their retirement only to have their money used up for political projects. Our country has a high count of youths and we are not taking advantage of it; we need a skilled work force to keep our economy strong and flourishing and it all starts with proper home upbringing and sound education. How many times have you looked around for a good plumber or electrician but could not find one? Look for a legal mind to helm our Supreme Court, we have to import one. We have many youth unemployed but we can’t find ones with the proper skills we need. On this our 33rd year, let us set the precedence to ensure that our youth are becoming skilled citizens, ones with sound education that will allow them to be contributing members of society and be world marketable.
The CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) and other regional groups that we keep shoving ourselves into are being used to further oppress our people. Under the CSME we are under control by member states and can be told what to do by any and all of them.
For example, by 2015 they need to accomplish:
- Harmonisation of taxation systems, incentives and the financial and regulatory environment.
- Harmonisation of fiscal and monetary policies amongst other things.
These two items alone will allow our taxes and other financial regulatory systems to be dictated by outsiders.
Education and the way out.
As for education, we need to remove the current archaic system and put in place a new system that truly educates our children toward a modern world so that when they go abroad, their skills can be on par or superior and appreciated wherever their future may take them. We must head to capacity building of our future, a future where the youth of today can stand shoulder to shoulder and keep our forward momentum going and where they can in turn lay new foundations for future generations. Look around you, the world we live in is not the same world our parents live in and the one our children and their generations will live in will also be different; we cannot isolate them from these facts, instead we must encourage and strengthen them to not only survive but to manipulate the future to their advantage not to suffice and live under the future chosen by those above them.
Schools must start to offer proper Guidance Counseling services to ensure that students are getting the proper support they need to succeed at school and in life. I quote the following from Gustavo Ramirez, a Master Educational Psychologist (Guidance Counseling):
- Church and government policymakers of Education in Belize may not want to consider changing how and what young Belizeans should be learning; nevertheless, many teachers (as witnessed through increasing daily posts on social media Internet networks) now seem ready to address the need to strengthen and revitalize Belize’s Education system — by accepting and embracing change(2)http://fiwebelize.com/belize-embracing-change-in-education/!
- We should NOT be educating our children in the 21st Century the same way I was educated in the 1950’s / 60’s! Yet, that is exactly what we are doing today in Belize. Where is/was the investment in the future of our children today, and our children from the last 30 years? If our graduates today, and from the last 25 years, are not prepared to live and work in today’s Belize, it only follows that tomorrow’s students/graduates will face a similar, even worse, future(3)http://fiwebelize.com/education-in-belize-are-graduates-prepared-today-and-students-being-prepared-for-tomorrow/.
- Most students and educators in Belize know well that since our Independence in 1981 the country’s Education Systems are due for a total revamping and upgrade. Outdated and ineffective Colonial Systems of Education that we (Government and Church) insist on maintaining and following no longer meet all our nation’s pressing needs in this global and digital Age. If indeed they do meet all our nation’s needs, then where is the growing network of successful vocational, technical, and scientific professionals “educated in Belize”(4)http://fiwebelize.com/education-in-belize-next-steps/?
To make a strong Belize we need to create a strong balance between our imports and our exports, we need to support our local producers, we MUST support our youth and we need to build and strengthen our manufacturing and produce sectors. We need to invite world powers to come to Belize and invest in creating jobs for their industries; we need to bring in companies like Dell so that our people can learn to design and build computers, companies like Google, so that our youths can learn to develop software and future technologies. I ask you my youths, why do we have to import even the smallest of things when we have your minds? You can harvest knowledge and grow to produce and create. Ask yourselves, what do we import to Belize and how can I create a new market in Belize for that item, research and build. Create your own outcomes, there is no need to wait for others to create a future for you; by working together, you can even create a structure where in you can start to export your works.
The future is ripe for the picking and we all must want to harvest from it. I would love to see a highly technical Belize, not just for the inner city citizens, but one where a child in the most remote corner of Belize can pull out a computer or a tablet and learn. Imagine the possibilities if we could reach that level where a child can go to school from their homes. Where clinics can be wired in to research an illness and provide proper treatment. Even children have digital devices and are connected online; can we say the same for our Government? We need to create that infrastructure so that we can keep moving ahead. An infrastructure where a poor person has access to a bank account and can manage their funds online, where citizens can go online and get service from the Government, where a person can submit a government application online from anywhere, for example to apply for a parcel of land. We need to introduce a connected and transparent Government in Belize, one where instead of having to buy government vehicles for hundreds of thousands of dollars, government would have online meetings to save money.
Our military brothers or sisters patrol our border and a farmers raise and grow our food and educators fill young minds, it is an ongoing circle that we call life, Belizean life; one that WE must secure together and we must never allow ourselves to be divided again.
On this our 33rd year of Independence and the start of a new year, I want to challenge Belizeans to become independent themselves; independent of partisan politics on both sides. The more you declare your independence, the more political aspirants will have to compete for your votes using reason and true representation rather than relying on psychological warfare, buying votes, using the old divide and conquer method and hateful appeals.
I call on all Belizeans, young and old, at home and in the Diaspora to “Come, make Belize into the nation we want it to be, into the nation that it should have been long ago”. Let US exploit our capacities, our resources, our minds, our endeavors; let us once again stand shoulder to shoulder as a community and raise our nation up proudly. I want this message to reach every corner of the world, I am Belize; this should be our dreams and aspirations; whether it is to serve our country and fellow Belizeans or to lend a helping hand to our communities and troubled youths.
As we move into the future, let us resolve to do what we can for the country and for our brothers and sisters, let us move ahead with the resolve to take our nation and people forward and to keep united. We have a destiny, will we get there? Only the future will tell, but it all starts today, the day WE change our resolve, put the past behind us and march together into the future, a united Belizean people no matter where we live.
I leave you with this quote by John F. Kennedy:
Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.
It was the price yesterday.
It is the price today, and it will ever be the price.
- Belize Unity Alliance: Independence Day Message (caribbeannewsnow.com)
- Belize’s Independence Day A Multicultural Success (belize-travel-blog.chaacreek.com)
- Letter: Given the current state of affairs, what are we truly celebrating in Belize? (caribbeannewsnow.com)
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