Posted: Saturday, June 13, 2020. 8:37 am CST.
The views expressed in this article are those of the writer and not necessarily those of Breaking Belize News.
By Lisa Shoman: The post-COVID19 economic recovery is as critical as our response before the outbreak, if not more so.
According to The Hon. John Briceño, “As the country faced the global pandemic of the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) it was imperative that both government and opposition work together for the benefit of all Belizeans. Fully satisfied that we have contributed to the best of our ability and with Cabinet and the CEO caucus making final determination on all issues I believe it is now time for me to return to my full- time duties as Leader of the Opposition.”
I do not agree with the Leader of the Opposition.
For a decade I have said that his office is a critical constitutionally-mandated part of government. And I thought this was common ground within the PUP.
What then to make of the departure of the LOO at this juncture?
What “full time duties as Leader of the Opposition” does Briceño have at this time that ARE more important than being a managing director of the economic recovery of the Jewel?
What possible justification for walking away now, could he have, when his voice and influence on a national level are needed more than ever, as we move inexorably towards a general election where everything becomes politically polarized?
Well, apparently those very elections themselves… On the interview aired on Channel 5 News last night, Briceño expounded on what he saw as “the way forward” and to him, the political imperative is foremost.
He said, “It is now time for the P.U.P. to roll out our plans to rescue our country, to put our economy back on a path to growth and to look ahead so that we can present our plans for good jobs, better educations, less crime and more opportunity.”
In other words, the PUP 2020 Manifesto is more critical than national bipartisan management of the current crisis.
I can’t say that I’m really surprised. I can say that I’m really disappointed.
The Hon. Briceño is singly one of the most hardworking politicians I have ever known. He understands the need for policy and planning. And I have faith in his capacity to carry out BOTH of his functions as LOO – his National Oversight Committee role and his PUP Party Leader role at the same time.
Unfortunately there are those in his party, more narrowly focused on partisan gains, who have convinced him that the time is NOW to abandon his national role, for his partisan duties as head of a political opposition party.
This is a fundamental error. At a time when Briceño is most needed, he’s been made to step down from his national platform- from a place where he can convincingly persuade Belizeans that he is the most worthy contender for the upcoming vacancy in the post of Prime Minister.
Instead, he has been persuaded (by his own party) to permit himself to be demoted to the sole and parochial role of DI PAATY LEEDA.
This may prove to be a costly miscalculation in the political fight ahead.
As Belizeans, we are uncertain, worried, depressed and concerned in various degrees about the weeks, months and years ahead.
We are suffering sleepless nights over the stability of our currency, and the loss of our livelihoods.
We are frightened at the loss in our ability to pay bills no matter how hard we sacrifice and work, and about the potential loss of homes and hard earned businesses -and about the tough global economic road ahead of us
We worry about the economy, but also about our health, crime and violence, the future of our children, the environment and climate change.
All of these are reasons why Briceño should have stayed, right where he was to persuade Belizeans that he has what it takes to take us to the tough times ahead.
I can’t help but wonder if there was no voice of reason in the PUP telling Briceño that when the going gets tough, the tough get going – to work to fix the ‘ish’ as best they can.
In my opinion, this move, made to satisfy the partisan hawks in his party will prove in the arc of history, to be an error. It will be a major opportunity missed.
And that is a great pity indeed.
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