Posted: Monday, March 19, 2018. 10:49 a.m. CST.
By Richard Harrison: Six lives lost to violence in Belize City over the last few days brought P.M. Hon. Dean Barrow to call an out-of-the-ordinary Sunday press conference yesterday at 4pm to lay out his governments plan to calm nervous tension of the many Belizeans calling for action to improve the safety and security of citizens.
Looking very exhausted, like a man lost in his ways, he confused his way through the press conference to outline the following plan:
1. Amalgamation of the police and BDF ministries under one minister, Hon. John Saldivar.
2. Reshuffling of the same senior police officers.
3. More boots on the ground; including police, BDF and Coast Guard; especially in undeclared “emergency zones”.
All these things have been done before…and everyone in Belize know the results.
The Prime Minister may as well have taken a walk in one of the many parks his government has refurbished (no new ones built) over his last 10 years in government.
The PM did not say if his plan is to form a single “military police” out of the Belize Police Department, the Belize Defense Force and the Belize Coast Guard….which could bring together the human and material resources adequate to provide much improved safety and security for citizens….while improving the security of the country’s borders.
Reshuffling of the same old police senior officers give no one in Belize any hope…most people see them as part and parcel of the chaotic, corrupt, crime-ridden violence that is tormenting Belize. The senior police needs a complete purge, replaced with retired officers that are still capable and willing to serve, especially those that are trained at Sandhurst and West Point…and the rest of the mostly amateur police force needs policing themselves….by a small, well-equipped police unit from the UK. They should request help from the British…but the GOB and some of the anti-colonial left-over mouthpieces in Belize see that as stepping back from Belizean Independence…pretending not to know that the Head of State of Belize is still Queen Elizabeth II…whether they like it or not. Pretending not to know that the natural place where broken families go for help is to their parents. Pretending like Belize and Belizeans can fix this mess on their own.
The PM may not want to admit it….but his wrecking of the Belize economy is paramount cause for this chaos….and he has no plan how to fix it. His budget proposal of March 9 only spells more taxes and more hardships for Belizeans, especially the lower and middle-income….the poorest and most vulnerable of whom live in the areas where the brunt of the violence is being experienced. Desperate, frustrated people; many partially sedated with alcohol and drugs, are seeing no signs of hope.
This plan thus appears to have more political objective than safety/security objectives, to:
1. Reward Hon. John Saldivar for leading the UDP to victory in the west and south recent municipal elections….giving him a big stick to beat down and tame the south side of Belize City, which obviously Hon. Patrick Faber could not keep in the folds of the red party.
2. Wave a big stick in front of any and all who would want to be “troublemakers”….including the Belize National Teachers Union, who are planning a massive march in Belmopan on March 22….to remind the government of the agreement they made to stop the BNTU strike in 2016…and to demand specific measures be taken to improve the safety and security of the children of Belize, who are suffering rampant abuse and undeserved hardships.
In the wake of these disappointing decisions of PM Barrow, Belizeans will likely ask the following questions:
1. Has Hon. Dean Barrow lost his way? Should he resign forthwith and call general elections?
2. What is the status of the Baron Bliss Trust Fund? Who manages this trust? Where are the annual audited financial statements? Should not the representative of the Head of State be the highest example of good governance, transparency and accountability?
3. What do Belizeans have to gain by sticking the middle finger up at the Head of State? Can Belize solve this chaos on its own? Should Belize ask for help from allies and friends?
4. What effect is the legalization of marijuana consumption, without the legalization of production and distribution, causing among the stakeholders fighting for their “fair share” of this big “industry” that Belize has allowed to develop in its bosom? What role is the police and certain political leaders playing in this “business”? Are they not close associates of the Mexican, Colombian, Guatemalan and Peruvian connection?
The views expressed in this article are those of the writer and not necessarily those of Breaking Belize News.
This article was written by Richard Harrison, Belizean investor in production and services businesses in Belize. He holds a Master’s in Business Administration degree from Lancaster University.
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