By Mayor Kevin Bernard

Friday, April 26, 2019

As a politician who grew up with role models like Father of the Nation George Price, who put the people of Belize, and service to the people of Belize way above himself, I have tried to respect all persons. For me, and the people of Orange Walk can tell you this, political affiliation does not matter. I believe that we have been put here at the whim of the people, and we must serve ALL the people, ALL the time. That is how I was raised, at home, and in the political arena. We must respect all persons, no matter what we consider to be their standing in life.

When I heard the news of the man who was turned back from the Southern Regional Hospital because the morgue was not working, I was shocked. But I know that sometimes unexpected things happen. I understand that sometimes terrible things go wrong. But then I found out, as did the entire country, that the morgue hasn’t been working for more than one month. Now that, my friends, is unacceptable. In other countries, the Minister of Health and his top officials would have been forced to resign. But in Belize, unfortunately, these people never take responsibility for their actions.

I feel for that man who, grieving the death of his wife, took her to the Southern Regional Hospital and was turned back. I got goose bumps as he explained that he had to take her back home, because he took care of her in life and he would take care of her in death too. And this is why I started out this column by talking about respect. Our leaders these days have lost all respect for our people. Nobody in the Ministry of Health bothered to let the people know that the morgue was not working. Nobody cared enough to do so. Nobody cared about that man who took his wife there. Nobody cared enough to respect the remains of his loved one. That is a shame. It is unacceptable. We need to hold our leaders accountable, and we need to do much better than this.

Like a lot of Belizeans, I have watched with embarrassment the antics of our leaders in the House of Representatives. The Minister of Health, Pablo Marin, is always quick to get up to boast about the health system in Belize, but what he speaks is not the truth. It is far from the truth. The problem is that the Ministers of Government do not have to access the health system here. Every single one of them, from the Prime Minister down, can fly out to Miami to seek medical attention if they even catch the common cold. They don’t go through the struggles that the rest of us do. So they don’t care. And because they don’t respect us, and think we are lower than them, they do nothing to fix the problem.

I have seen the issues with health facing the people of Orange Walk East. Elodio Aragon Jr., when he was campaigning, promised a brand new health center. Instead, since he got elected, the dilapidated building which was being used as a health center has been abandoned. That is the reality. That is the truth. It is nothing that any of our leaders should boast about. All across the country it is the same. The poorest of our people have to find a way to reach the larger hospitals when they or their loved ones get sick. And there, too many times, they are denied access to treatment and denied access to basic medication.

In any country in any corner of the world, anybody with a grain of common sense will tell you that development is based strongly on the level of health, and the level of education. It is ridiculous that this government went through more than $400M in PetroCaribe money, and not one dollar was invested in our health system. Not one dollar. None of our hospitals or health centers was upgraded with those hundreds of millions. And yet this government loves to boast.

It is all about respect. We need to respect our people. We need to care for them, and we need to serve them. This government has failed miserably.