Political leadership dictates that the leaders must return the trust he invites the populace to bestow on him at election time.
In the 2008 election, the Prime Minister Dean Oliver Barrow and the United Democratic Party (UDP) mandated to the electorate three (3) vital elements for a responsible government in exchange for the voters currency of trust.
The echoing UDP mantra of transparency, accountability and good governance is today a hollowed empty promise. It was Barrow and the UDP’s political carrot on the stick. The Party’s propaganda. Clearly soundbites over substance.
The currency of trust given to the UDP by the voting populace has been squandered and misspent, transformed into immoral acts and a trail of corruption. Some of the more egregious acts are:
- The cultural vandalism of our cultural heritage Noh Mul by UDP political candidate and crony Denny Grijalva to satisfy the cheap political work in the then Deputy Prime Minister Gaspar Vega’s constituency. The Mayan site that was 2,600 years old was transformed literally into ground for construction. International news agencies CNN, Fox News, NBC and National Geographic all chided the Belizean people for losing respect for the kind of cultural heritage treated as treasures elsewhere. To date, no one has seriously been held accountable and the matter remains unquestioned in the public forum.
- The Rosewood scandal to which then Minister Lisel Alamilla had lamented about corruption in her ministry. Thereafter, the very Rosewood was sold to a special exporter who turned out to be no other than Gaspar Vega’s brother.
- The allegation of UDP elected area representative for Cayo North East Elvin Penner: This involved the issuing of Nationality Certificates to a South Korean criminal Kim Won Hong. To date, the matter remains under the cloak of darkness. The Senate Inquiry Report on the Immigration scandal is yet to be made public.
- The issuing of lands to friends and families admitted by Deputy Prime Minister Gaspar Vega created another callous and atrocious scandal. This prompted the Prime Minister Dean Barrow to utter the famous words “I believe that the Lands Department, unfortunately, is another hot-bed of corruption….” However, to Gaspar Vega’s behaviour, as one against better moral judgment, Vega reacted “I am not a normal person in Belize.”
- The misappropriation of monies from Belize Airport Authority by Edmund Castro to whimsical sorts, such as funding his cycling team and other personal matters. The sanction applied was the game of political musical chairs of shifting portfolios.
- Sanctuary Bay: The largest real estate fraud in US history caused the heartbeat of Belize’s Financial System to stop. This multi-layered scam resulted in the Federal authorities in the US jurisdiction questioning the leadership of Belize, Honourable Dean Barrow. A dark, heavy cloud continues to loom over the Jewel’s financial system. Notwithstanding, the PM lauded a secret settlement he attempted to grandstand with, in the National Assembly. Will the normal Belizeans, Barrow’s peasant class, have to give another pound of flesh for shylock’s settlement?
- Now comes General Sales Tax Department: The revelation of underreporting and non-payment of GST by Barrow’s manipulated, nationalized, Belizean-owned communication entity, Belize Telemedia Limited, is the latest egregious act committed under the United Democratic Party administration. There is also an additional allegation of under-payment to the Income and Business Tax Department. Nestor Vasquez, chairman of BTL Board has attempted to dispel GST summary of assessment. Curiously, a leaked correspondence highlights Net Vasquez asking a write-off of the same. The web becomes entangled.
At the same time, the Minister of Finance has been mum regarding liability to GST. Consequentially, the lack of true leadership. The dignity of the high stool of office have been severely undermined under the red regime.
Hope for restoring true leadership lays in the horizon—the 20/20 General Election. A new mandate will be given to the masses, the normal Belizeans, the peasant, and the common man, with a People’s United Party victory in 20/20. It will be one of substance and definitely not of soundbites. Briceño intends to engage vigorously economic and social reforms. Importantly, political reform is priority to ensure that the check and balances, the safeguard mechanism works.
The intention is to render autonomy to the institutions of the Public Accounts Committee, and The Integrity Commission, and that due respect is given to the Auditor General and Contractor General offices.
The United Democratic Party has begun its courtship with the electorate. Nonetheless, the citizenry will not forget the trails of empty promises utilized in swindling their votes. “Raise Up,” “From the Boardroom to the Bases,” “The Best is Yet to Come,” “Believe in the Transformation” and the camel’s straw, “Transparency, Accountability and Good Governance.” These are simply soundbites over substance, all glitter and gloss. The result, the dreams and aspiration of the populace relegated to but a dying dream.
Barrow your time is up, you got to go!