Over the last 10 years the UDP government has punished us with increases in the cost of living, raising the taxes on everything from electricity and fuel to internet. Now just about forty one percent of Belizeans live in poverty and the number that live in extreme poverty has increased dramatically. It is no surprise then that we suffer increases in crime rates. According to the Belize Crime Observatory there have been one hundred thirty two murders, sixty six rapes, two hundred and sixty seven robberies, seven hundred and twenty burglaries and six hundred and eighty one thefts in the country. These figures are at 30th November 2018. It is easy to see that for many it will not be a Merry Christmas.
This year there were no funds ear marked for the Improvement of Children’s Health and Nutrition in Mayan Communities leaving our most at risk even more vulnerable. In a study done through UNICEF in 2015 it shows that over sixteen percent of children under the age of five suffered from stunting caused by malnutrition. Another report from 2009 concluded that the poverty rate in indigenous Mayan communities was significantly higher than the national average at sixty eight percent. Hon Patrick Faber Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education is at constant odds with the BNTU over working conditions and wages. One of the latest was over hardship allowances to teachers who serve schools in these same communities
We are witness to gross cases of mismanagement and over spending. Let us not forget the 8M mile at Faber’s Road. The several fires in the township of San Pedro that claimed the lives of four people. More recently the fire in Orange Walk that claimed the lives of an entire family. There has been unprecedented negligence of the fire department not to mention the unspeakable conditions of the fire station in the twin towns of San Ignacio and Santa Elena. Equipment and premises have been allowed to deteriorate and this has made our communities even more vulnerable. BWSL has not been able to maintain the fire hydrants and in some cases many that do exist are not functional.
This UDP government would have Belizeans believe that they care for our children. Ministers will line up children for photo ops galore. We will see turkey and ham to their favourite few. A few cheap thrills to brighten a moment or two. On the Boxing Day it is back to harsh reality. They rob our children of a brighter future by taking away all the opportunities that can contribute to a better way of life for them. Health care is a joke if they even make it out alive from the hospital despite the killer bacteria or the ravenous rats, many of our children are plagued by poverty and malnutrition. Education is a luxury many Belizeans simply cannot afford beyond primary school. Our children are murdered in their own beds and disappear without a trace many never to be seen again. They are not safe even in their own beds because we cannot afford even the most basic equipment for the Fire Department. This government cares not for children. The stingy Christmas cheer comes but once a year and is pitifully doled out at the discretion of the PM who ticks off his list those who have been naughty or nice.
If the GOB were serious about love for Belizean children then they would show that love more than once a year. Give our children more than cavities from cheap candy at Christmas time. Give them all equal opportunity for health services by rolling out the NHI nationally. Do not provide cheap tricks for entertainment. Instead give them access to education and the tools to raise up out of poverty. Do not merely use these children for pictures that look beautiful on your official Facebook pages. Keep them safe by providing adequate equipment and buildings for the Fire Department and Police. Keep Belizean children happy year round by providing sporting opportunities and artistic outlets especially in at risk neighborhoods and communities. Establish feeding programs in schools so that they can have food security year round.
It was Saint Francis of Assisi who said “where there is discord, may we bring harmony. Where there is error, may we bring truth. Where there is doubt, may we bring faith. And where there is despair, may we bring hope.” May Harmony, Truth, Faith, and Hope reign in every Belizean home this Christmas Season. Happy Holidays to all!