The Struggle

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Orange Walk South

Today, June 15, we caught up with Hon. Jose Mai in San Carlos Village. This is a part of the Orange Walk Town constituency which he represents now for a second term. The community of San Carlos is both typical and unique. Typical because it is small, cultural, humble, progressing, and Belizean at its core. The village is unique for many reasons including its Red Clay soils, and it hearty dedication to Agriculture. San Carlos residents have been educating themselves with the proceeds of their yields—an example for Belize to follow.

They villagers of San Carlos plant onions, watermelons, and pineapple among other crops. They live alongside the Mennonites who are just across the main road. San Carlos is near, a couple miles, from the famous Lamanai Mayan temples. A visit to the village will give you a small taste of how our struggle to become self-sufficient is lived by the people of San Carlos. They are a shining example of the utter rejection of urbanization—the real enemy of the economic growth of our fledgling country.

Today, they were seen putting their hands into action showing that San Carlos grit is for real. The San Carlos government schools were being helped by a Longbeach College students from California who were part of a ‘Courts for Kids’ organization. Brianna Thompson, the assigned Jesuit Volunteer, was at the helm of making sure that Courts for Kids, local funding, village labour, and time come together in the quest of getting a court done.

This was definitely no usual court. It was designed to host basketball, volleyball, small-goal football(soccer in the USA), and some running. The local men along with a cadre of young college American students donated their time usually dedicated to agriculture to build this multipurpose court. Their motivation was the obvious benefit this would have for their children attending school. The future of their beautiful village is only enhanced by this project.

Hon. Mai was visiting this and his presence showed that he cared. He was very eloquent as he provided the previous village description in synopsis here. His being is opposition straps the amount of support that he can give. His presence though is definitely a morale lifter and thus invaluable. The visit was definitely only one of his countless ones as he looks forward to the end of frustration and the continuation of the normal struggle involved while building Belize.

On a national scale, Mr. Mai expounded on his budget speech where he put forth an important suggestion for the sugar industry in Orange Walk. These are some of his words at the debate: Madam Speaker, do you know how much it cost to transport one tonne of sugar from Tower Hill to the sea? $116.00/ton- shipping out 95,700 tons…. That’s a total of $11,105,000… Do you know Madam Speaker who pays for that?? The farmer pays 65% and ASR pays 35%. But why? If the cane belongs to ASR once it reaches the scale… the sugar belongs to ASR why are you charging me to transport your sugar. Of that $116.00 cost per ton the farmer is paying $75.40.

Hon. Mai feels strongly on the idea that the UDP government of the day is wasting resources and at the same time not helping the farmers with subsidies for them to survive the drought, plant disease, plant parasites, market declines and upgrading machinery whenever possible. The UDP government does not care for the farmers and definitely does not have the political will to help. They easily ignore the economic reality that without a vibrant agricultural sector foreign exchange would plummet catastrophically. Such a happening would trigger a domino effect that would sweep all Belize in its path. Orange Walk South is poised to be a shining light with Hon. Mai. The people of the area know it too well.