By Charles Leslie Jr.: “Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe.” – Frederick Douglass
The PUDP failed to realize that they could have still become rich without destroying Belize.
The PUP thought they were smart in money management and took huge gambles, using the people of Belize as collateral, and that is how we ended up with super bond 1.0 and not much changed by way of reducing poverty, which is the ultimate report card of any administration when it comes to their success or failure of building Belize the right way.
The UDP came to power in 2008 by riding a wave of discontent of the Belizean people. In their first term they nurtured that discontent into unadulterated hate of the PUP and any other dissenters, to keep the people on their side and focused away from the reality that they did not know how to build a nation. The leadership of the UDP realized early on in their first term that hate could only get them so much mileage and that people desired tangible progress. So, they nationalized Belize Telemedia Limited and Belize Electricity Limited, 2009 and 2011 respectively. This allowed for some hero status for the UDP, however this wasn’t enough. This was a major contributing factor that triggered the pursuit of a new mandate. Belizeans still saw these acquisitions as abstract. They did not translate into many tangible jobs. The UDP knew that the only way they would get a new mandate was with some time-tested political maneuverings. In the case of the 2012 General Elections, almost a year after expropriating BEL: Money talked. The UDP got their new mandate.
The UDP decided that they would give the people what they asked for. With the ‘miracle’ of Petrocaribe coupled with multitudes of other debt instruments, the UDP started a massive nationwide infrastructure development creating a lot of Keynesian jobs, and a few chosen Belizeans turned into overnight millionaires. I will not get into value-for-dollar, cronyism, nepotism and the unwise investments of the Petrocaribe money at this time. Many brilliant Belizeans have written many detailed articles on such topics.
Elaborating on my opening statement, the PUDP failed to realize THE fundamental rule of properly developing a nation, and that rule is: you must first develop and empower the people of a nation, and the people will then build the nation. The PUDP made an axiological mistake when they thought they were developing Belizeans, and that mistake was to think that developing Belizeans was to instill a beggar, dependent mentality that became an innate part of our ethos. This, of course, was intentional. This was all about the PUDP enriching themselves, and remaining in power, even at the cost of the people of Belize and the destruction of the country. This, history will show, has always been the case with petty politicians.
WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE, NOW!
I will not reflect on what should have been done, for that is an exercise in futility. I will, however, point out 6 fundamental changes that are needed, now, for Belize to get on the right track.
#1: It is extremely important that leaders impose upon the Belizean people that this nation is wealthy. For far too long the PUDP politicians, who have benefited handsomely from a supposed poor nation, have been brainwashing Belizeans for decades, that we are a poor people because we are living in a poor nation. A beggar nation. Where Belizeans are taught that we could never become world class. We must stop believing this fallacy.
#2: We must empower our Belizean youths. There is no progressive socioeconomic infrastructure to properly nurture our youths into being progressive in developing their skills that will build the nation of Belize, and they are not currently active enough in the political process to change the system that has starved their potential because they feel that they are not stakeholders of this nation. That can change with a carefully crafted land ownership policy, that guarantees all Belizeans a piece of the jewel upon reaching 18 years old and also do this retroactively, and should be done with other mechanisms such as access to cheap capital and a guidance and support system.
#3: You cannot build a nation on debt without some system in place to protect people from those issuing those debts. The financial lending institutions in Belize have had a free reign since the passing of the Central Bank Act. Too many Belizean dreams, too many Belizean families have been destroyed by crushing debt. An immediate moratorium needs to be enacted to stop all foreclosures. Usury, Truth in Lending and Predatory Lending laws needs to be implemented immediately, and all banks and banksters should be investigated and those found to have participated in insider trading and anything else to have defrauded Belizeans of their homes and businesses, should be jailed. Belizeans, open an account at a credit union a.s.a.p.
#4: Our tax system needs to be restructured for functionality, and not to appease for political purposes. Our current tax system is a disaster. We need a simplified tax system. Belizeans like Richard Harrison has developed a structure that should be taken into serious consideration.
#5: In relation to number four, we need foreign direct investment, however, because of a lack of systems in place to deal with corruption, investors are securing their investment by making sure they get a tax holiday, making money from our resources and keeping most of their profits outside of Belize, while paying little to no taxes in Belize. Thus, the government is pressuring small business owners more and more, due to a lack of taxation on these large corporate investments, they need to fill that void somehow. Just go to any Magistrate Court in this country and you will see the hundreds if not thousands of small businesses owners being hauled off to court because they missed a month’s payment etc. they are struggling to keep their businesses afloat, with no relief in sight, instead, being treated like common criminals, clogging up an already overburdened court system.
We can only begin to fix investor (FDI and local) confidence by signing onto the United Nations Convention Against Corruption, participating with Transparency International, having a functional Public Accounts Committee and Integrity Commission, an independent judiciary and an independent police force, so as to let investors know that we are serious about dealing with corruption, and that their investments are secure. Just take a weekend trip to Mexico, starting from Chetumal to Cancun and see what this has done for them.
#6: All traitors to this nation, who have directly and indirectly put the sovereignty of this nation at risk by pushing to go to the ICJ under this current Compromis to address the Anglo-Guatemalan Dispute, should be identified and exposed. They are all filthy, damned traitorous lepers, and should be treated as such. All these foreigners in Belize who are economic hitmen should be identified and classified as traitors as well, and should be ejected from this country, even if we have to do it ourselves. I am a patriotic Belizean. I will not mince words, nor will I compromise one grain of sand, one blade of grass of this great, wealthy nation, and anyone who does so, is my enemy and the enemy of the great nation state of Belize.
REFLECTING ON REALITY:
Do you really believe, with 100% confidence, that the PUDP do not know what needs to be done to fix Belize? You don’t need to have a law degree to answer that question, you just need to be a patriot, a human being, to have common sense, and compassion for your fellow Belizeans who are suffering because of a broken, corrupt system. I am certain your answer, whether you admit it or not, will be – “Yes, the PUDP knew then and knows now, what needs to be done to fix the issues plaguing Belize. However, greed has infected them, and staying in power is more important.”
Here is the cold hard truth. There are no knights in shining armor that will come and save Belize from itself. To fix Belize, we must begin by accepting the fact that what has been tried has failed, miserably, and we all know the reasons.
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
Belizeans, we must become born again Belizeans. We have to start from scratch if that is what it takes. We need to remember that politics is not an evil thing, it is simply a mechanism developed, where we collectively agree on the best people to run the country with the best methods. Unfortunately, that system has been hijacked to keep the same greedy, corrupt and failed politicians in power.
Politics in its true sense is the science of serving people. Once we collectively focus on creating a brand new political consciousness, based on that fact, Belize will come out of this nightmarish reality sooner than later. But, it will not happen if you do not actually participate in the political process. The Belizeans who have withdrawn from this process, I am especially talking to you. You are the knights in shining armor for which Belize is waiting. You know the system has failed. You know why. You know how it is harming you and even more so, the people who support this system because of fear, apathy and self-preservation.
In conclusion, there is a difference between wishing that Belize would become better and being ready for it to become better. We will never get a better Belize until we believe it. Your state of mind must be BELIEF, not mere hope or wish. Having a closed mind will not inspire you to have faith, courage and belief that Belize can become better. Being open minded to the possibilities that exist outside the reality of the past 34 years post-independent Belize, is essential for belief, essential for you, and essential for Belize to become a better nation.
The views expressed in this article are those of the writer and not necessarily those of Breaking Belize News.
The article was written by Charles Leslie Jr., former independent Chairman of Placencia Village (2010 – 2013). He holds an Associates degree in business, accounting and economics and has over 20 years business experience.
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