The Prime Minister’s speech on the 38th Anniversary of Belize’s independence was decidedly anticlimactic. The delivery was flat and uninspired, but the content was a fantastically woven masterpiece of sci-fi and seemingly drug-induced hallucinations. The greatest rhetorician of our time has finally run out of hot air. There was no evidence of his usual flair and wit, gone are his ganas and gusto.
Perhaps though the bad taste in his mouth has more to do with the fact that his imagined squeaky-clean image is now permanently tarnished, and his legacy will indeed be the corruption scandals that rocked his administration from top to bottom. History will record that he was unable, unwilling and perhaps even complicit both by his actions and inactions in the raping of our country. The annals of Belize will show him as the worst Prime Minister (PM) in history and that it was under his stewardship that the Sanctuary Bay Saga occurred. It was under his watch that two Offshore Banks folded and that two other banks closed their doors and moved on. The PM will have time in his retirement to contemplate why neither the FIU nor the Central Bank, both under his direct supervision, recognized the warning signs and sprung to action to avoid these catastrophes. Even the GST department directly under his authority is recently riddled with extortion and demands for bribes. At the end of the day, he is solely responsible for this gross mess.
Again, the same old refried infrastructure package was served cold to the Belizean people. There was not even a semblance of concern for the suffering of the most vulnerable. Once more, there is a push for infrastructure led investment to save us and drive the economy. The PM boasts 7.6 percent as the lowest recorded unemployment in a decade. However, he does not mention his administration also holds the record for highest rate of unemployment ever, a whopping 14.431 percent in 2012. He wants Belizeans to rejoice because he will spend only $12M for Poverty Alleviation when 41% of Belizeans suffer poverty, and then he chooses to spend $300M on road works. The PM also wants Belizeans to celebrate the fact that this year one hundred houses will be built for first time homeowners, but that is more than were built in all the combined years the UDP was in government.
The PM has just realized that drought affects the livelihood of thousands of families and has declared it a crisis to unlock resources. He has pledged $50M to help farmers who have lost crops and livestock. In April 2011 over 1M pounds of onions were lost to farmers in the North to the tune of 30M, while Government of Belize (GOB) imported onions from Holland. In 2012 and 2015 Belize experienced similar drought conditions even while GOB collected GST on irrigation materials and equipment for over 8 years. Potato farmers again faced a crisis in 2017 because of ill-timed GOB importations. There is no empathy here for the working-class Belizean.
The rest of the careless promises must be the product of some delusional state: electric vehicles, solar energy, laptops and the cultivation of medical marijuana. These make sense only as diversions of funds and desperate election gimmicks. There is an overwhelming majority of young people who never make it to high school or drop out because their families cannot afford to send them to school. The real impact of these programs will never be felt where they are most needed. Just about the only person happy with the introduction of marijuana farming must be the Minister of the Ministry of Health who has a head start on any small farmer in Belize. This history of unbridled greed and corruption, the insatiable appetites for land and power, the lawlessness and violence, nepotism, cronyism…these are the parting gifts of The Red Devil.