By: Hilly Bennett
The global community, inclusive of Belize, will be observing International Anti-Corruption Day on the 9th of December, 2018. This day has been observed annually upon the passage of the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) on the 31st October 2003 to bring awareness to the public regarding anti-corruption
Prime Minister Dean Oliver Barrow signed an instrument of Accession. The instrument was ratified by the Senate on November 30th, 2016 and was subsequently submitted to the United Nations Secretary General.
However, measures have been nonexistent in curbing, the voracious appetite of the vultures of corruption, which remains rampant within the ranks of the UDP’s Barrow catalogue of corruption over floweth with his political cohorts.
Carl J. Friedrich, in his book, The Pathology of Politics defines corruption as “a kind of behavior, which deviates from the norm actually prevalent or believed to prevail in a given context, such as the political. It is deviant behavior associated with a particular motivation, namely that of private gains at the public expense.” The crux is of that of private gains at the People’s expense. The trending UDP land hustle, and the Andre Vega/Sharon Pitts “grabtub” are a vivid example.
Friedrich continued his lengthy approach to define corruption in noting that “such private gain may be a monetary one, and in the minds of the general public it usually is, but may take other forms. It may be rapid promotions, an order, decorations, and the like.” This type of gain may not have been personal, but could benefit a family or other group. Friedrich went on to proffer that corruption exist when a power holder, a functionary or office holder is induced to take actions, which favor individuals providing the reward, resulting in damages to the organization to which the functionary belongs, more specifically the government.
The late Kofi Anan former secretary-general of the United Nations General Assembly referred to corruption as an insidious plague, that undermines democracy and the rule of law, leads to violations of human rights, distorts markets, erode the quality of life and allow organized crime, terrorism, and other threats to human security to flourish. Corruption also erodes international confidence and discourages foreign aid. Presently, the United States government has decided to cut areas of foreign assistance to Belize possibly from the lens of perceived corruption to combatting Human Trafficking.
It is the writer’s opinion that this government, this United Democratic Party administration and its lame-duck leadership cannot in clear, and sincere conscience recognize Anti-Corruption Day on this 9th December, 2018. Although, UNCAC the legally binding instrument is designed to promote measures to prevent and combat corruption, the dictates of this noble institution have not been adhered to by the Dean Barrow government. Notwithstanding, the existing local institutions and safeguard mechanism of public finances – the Financial Orders, the Stores Order, the Contractor General office, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) and the Integrity Commission.
The President of Mexico Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador suggested that the battle against corruption will necessitate “not only political will but more importantly erecting effective institutions.” Obviously, for Belize to recover from the stunted growth of development of country and people, being experienced under the corrupt regime, it will take more than political will and effective institutions. Clearly, even with a bigger “rat-trap” a more powerful political rodent will circumvent the intended purpose.
Fortunately, the cure for this political anomaly is embedded in the will of the people and the power of the vote. Unless the United Democratic Party (UDP), the Dean Barrow administration, this political swamp is drained, the corruption will not cease. The worthless, heartless UDP dregs must be removed from the “haven of democracy” to be restored.
The People’s United Party (PUP) under the Leadership of Honorable John Briceno has embarked on a 20/20 vision for Belize that will bring back the sparkle to the Jewel. Additionally, Briceno has embraced the asset recovery frame-work which is a special feature of UNCAC. The established principle is embedded in UNCAC Article 52. Asset recovery is one of the fundamental principles of the convention. It ranges from tracing, freezing, confiscation, forfeiture and recovery of assets derived from covert offences.
In his pronouncement, John Briceno also declared war against corruption placing Gaspar Vega, Anthony “Boots” Martinez, Edmund Castro, Elvin Penner, Pablo Marin, Junior Heredia and the whole lot in the crosshairs of the Asset Recovery Act. The tyrants, the despots and the traitors will be uprooted and replaced with a prudent and pragmatic People’s United Party Government. “Building a Belize that works for everyone.”
Voice of the Common Man