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Belize – The Individual, Society, and Renaissance

Belize City roundabout

Posted: Sunday, October 1, 2017. 11:40 am CST.

Saint John’s College Students protest

By Richard Harrison:

Renaissance means “rebirth” or “reawakening”.

Belizeans of today, in general; perhaps through learning by experience; have reached a point where they feel they must be politically correct in what they say and do…they do not want to rock the boat too hard…they do not want to offend…they do not want violent change….and to them, the word revolution has that connotation.

This is why the vocabulary of the desired change process should be “renaissance”….instead of “revolution”….

Belizeans of today are not the same as the Belizeans of the PEACEFUL, CONSTRUCTIVE, BELIZEAN REVOLUTION.

Every Belizean I know want many things about Belize to change….but very few, if any, know exactly, specifically, what to do to achieve that rebirth and reawakening…and what role they must play as individuals or groups.

Belizeans generally want more people living better off and less living worse off…they want their Belize to be a sovereign and independent nation state respected in the world, and especially by the neighbor, Guatemala…they want better governance that will deliver more and better education, health and public services, with a lot less corruption….they want better infrastructure, transportation, industries and honest employment/income opportunities…but more than anything else, they want more and better peace, safety and security.

Belizeans have become more individualistic…than socialistic. Their individual and group interests have become more important than the societal and national interests. This may be driven by the survival mode that kicks in when poverty surges past 40% of the population.

However, most of the change described above can only come about through societal consensus, planning and action…..no unilateral, individual/group action will achieve the desired societal and national outcomes.

Therefore, if any rebirth or reawakening is to take place….the individual and group interests must progressively give way to societal and national interests, optimally becoming one and the same.

Today our Chinese brothers, who now own the lion’s share of the distribution trade, are closed…to respect and honor one of their own that was recently killed in an armed robbery….and rightfully so. They routinely do this as a show of protest, when one of their own is killed innocently…obviously wanting and deserving more and better peace, safety and security. They do not routinely participate in protesting the concerns of other sectors of the population.

BNTU Protest

This week….the students of St. Johns College Junior College walked out of classes and staged a peaceful protest in response to a situation where one of their own disappeared for 4 days after an encounter he and his father had with the Gang Suppression Unit of the Belize Police, where bullets were admittedly fired…and rightly so. Belizeans from all walks of life lamented this sad situation, and supported the action of the students, mostly on social media. Fortunately, the youth reappeared safe. The students do not routinely react in this way when other sectors of the society are protesting their grievances.

In the recent past….Belize has seen protest from tour operators and guides when they felt cheated in the cruise tourism sector….the people of Las Flores who lost lands targeted for expansion of their community school to a political decision to sell the parcel of land to a privileged political person….the cane farmers protesting the sour deal they got from the sell-out of their industry to the big multi-national ASR….the environmental groups protesting the decision of government to allow seismic testing for offshore oil exploration near the Great Belize Barrier Reef and marine protected areas….the people of San Ignacio and Santa Elena protesting the rising crime and violence in their community, as well as the reckless comments of the Minister of Foreign Affairs regarding the sovereignty and integrity of Belize….the utility unions protesting the bad deal they got in the various ownership and benefits arrangements of the major utility companies….the people of San Pedro and Belize City protesting the abuse of force by the police…the territorial volunteers and others protesting the annexation by Guatemala of the Sarstoon island and presence of Guatemalan military exercising control over that part of Belizean territory with apparent approval from their very own Belize government, and especially the Minister of Foreign Affairs….among many others protests.

All of these protests were specific group actions limited to specific group interests….and no one moved to join or support the other.

In 2005, the Belize National Teachers Union (BNTU) and the Public Services Union protested the rising cost of living and the failure of government to make appropriate adjustments in salaries. Their demands were specifically self-centered around their group interests, and after their salary increases were negotiated and agreed to….the protests ended. They were accused of looking after themselves, as they addressed none of the national issues of concern to other sectors.

In 2016, the BNTU again decided to take strike action….for reasons that included, but were not limited to, the rising cost of living and their promised salary adjustments. This time….when they included the concerns of the general population about over rampant corruption in government…and demanded specific changes that would attempt to curb it….the rest of the population….the Chinese…the cane farmers…the utility unions….the Public Services Union….the environmentalists….the people of Las Flores…people of San Ignacio and Santa Elena….the tour operators and guides….preferred to stand on the sidelines and cheer or criticize….left the teachers to protest on their own, although with silent support from most parents and students.

The teachers got their salary adjustments….but those that participated in the 11-day strike were forced to take salary cuts…and basically, none of the other NATIONAL INTEREST demands agreed to by the Government of Belize have been met…..almost exactly one year after the fact.

The teachers of Belize have made progress….they have come to understand, as a group entity, that the rebirth and reawakening that Belize needs….requires having empathy for the needs, wants and desires of other sectors that serve COMMON PURPOSE….that we all have to look beyond our individual and group interests….and participate with each other in working towards and achieving social and national objectives.

All other individuals and groups need to make this progress…

The Prime Minister and Government of Belize, to end the strike of the BNTU, agreed publicly to a list of things to do within certain time periods….all Belizeans know this.

All of those things serve COMMON PURPOSE….they serve the social and national interest of ALL Belizeans.

ALL Belizeans MUST come together NOW to ensure that the Government of Belize lives up to its agreements….to be an honorable government. If Belizeans do not want and demand HONOR from its government….then they should not expect their social and national interests to be best served…neither their individual or group interests.

Only an honorable people deserves an honorable government.

The time for Belizean RENAISSANCE is now!

“When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” ~ Paolo Coelho

The views expressed in this article are those of the writer and not necessarily those of Breaking Belize News.


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