Tone Deaf

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By Dolores Balderamos Garcia

Friday, April 12, 2019

My my !! What a difference a week makes. Last week we saw the Prime Minister in full fulmination and grandstanding mode, making his final full-court press for a YES vote from the Belizean people, praying in aid the updated opinion of Judge Schwebel and trotting out diplomat Alexis Rosado and newly-minted lead GOB/UDP counsel Lisa Shoman. I have to say, first of all that even in his ”glorifying” position, the PM was at least cautious in referring to the referendum in which the Belizean people will vote and its actual date. Would that Senior Counsel Shoman had been so. In singing loudly for her supper, she threw caution to the Belizean March and April breezes and opined very confidently that we WILL be having a referendum on April 10. Ouch !! Perhaps we will, but we must remember that it ain’t over until the fat lady sings.

To be clear, at this writing I have no idea whether the plebiscite will actually be held on that date. But indeed, how different the whole complexion is now. I must confess how surprised I am. You could perhaps not knock me over with a feather, but as I sat in the Chief Justice’s courtroom last Monday for most of the submissions of counsel for and against the PUP motion, I could not have foreseen where we would be this weekend as I jot these thoughts. Unfortunately, I was not able to be with colleagues on Wednesday afternoon for the big moment. I was a little under the weather.

Allow me to say that I have been consistent in my view that this whole thing needs to be postponed, for various reasons, chief of which is the unpreparedness of the Elections office and the new voter’s list. I remain bemused that many Belizeans are still being disenfranchised. Errol Gillett of Gales Point Manatee is not on the list through no fault of his own, and the Belize Rural Central registering officers seem unconcerned or unable to fix this. I also am annoyed that born Belizeans from Burrell Boom and so many other municipalities received letters telling them that they do not meet the requirements to be included on the new list. Let us get this right, people.

I look now at a Commentary by Antiguan Sir Ronald Sanders, penned April 5, 2019. It is called “Belize: Put The National Interest First.” Of course we should all respect the views of such an eminent Ambassador of his country and of the whole Caribbean, but I do disagree with some of his views and conclusions. He does NOT know what is happening on the ground here. His thesis is that narrow partisan political ambitions and interests very often trump the national interest in “practically every country.” Without offering any proof or explanations he says in his article that the struggle for supremacy of one party over another in Britain is causing chaos there as the Brexit question continues to play out.

But then he begins to focus his attention on our ICJ referendum issue here at home. He says that Britain is not alone that “this tragedy of political ambition over wider national interest is being displayed.” Hon. Sanders then glosses right over the possible reasons for the Chief Justice’s granting of the interim injunction, and he happily repeats that political divisiveness for short term gain is the order of the day. Says he: “most of the work to hold a referendum was done by the very PUP that sought the April 3 injunction to stop it.” Say I: yes of course. But you, Mr. Sanders, have no real idea why this has been done. I won’t trot out again the reasons our party issued the People’s

Declaration, but I will repeat that a delay to get things right IS in the national interest. Mr. Sanders rightly points out alliteratively that “dissonance, distortions and disinformation” normally permeate political wars, and that the Caribbean, including Belize, is no exception. But I must add that when there are crucial issues of legality and due process, then it is the duty of interested parties to challenge this perceived mad rush by the Government.

Let me say too, that the Prime Minster, due to his usual unfortunate displays of megalomaniacal conduct, is again losing the opportunity to provide leadership and guidance to our people. What a spectacle he created of himself, ranting and railing as he did after the CJ’s decision on Wednesday. He behaved like a spoiled brat, whose toy was taken away or who could not get his own way. What is the magic of April 10, PM ?? Do the right thing, man. Take this matter to the House, where it should rightly be aired properly, and then try, if you can, to be circumspect and respectful. If you do not, I will be forced to say that, once again, YOU ARE TONE DEAF !!