GOVERNMENT SHOOTS DOWN WORKERS
Wednesday 22 July, 2020 – Breaking news – as we are writing the news flash is that government’s brutal GSU, a paramilitary unit which operates outside the law has shot several workers who were peacefully gathered on the compound of the Port of Belize in the Yarborough Area Belize City. This is a sensational development and the fallout will result in the huge black eye to the falling government.
The Port of Belize is engaging in union busting and law breaking. In no democracy can an employer fire two dozen unionized employees whilst the union is in bitter negotiations and has Notified Industrial action.
It is also illegal for the Port or any employer to arbitrarily reduce the salaries of its employees. Not only is this a breach of the terms and conditions of workers contracts, it is a violation of the Constitution of Belize which prohibits the arbitrary deprivation of property and the law says salaries are workers’ property.
This is a story of awesome strength and endurance. It also offers a glimpse into petty political victimization and misogyny.
The Belize Police Department has 2,200 members. It consumes 50 million dollars of taxpayer’s money each year. It is focused on quantity not quality. There is no modern management structure to this large, unwieldy organization.
There is no Ministry oversight, no regulatory mechanism. There are no policy goals. If there exist a mission statement, it is merely paper posted on a notice board.
A research into the Ombudsman’s Annual Reports highlights that the Police occupy the number one slot for citizen’s complaints. Former Police Minister Wilfred Elrington characterized sections as comprised of goons and thugs. Simeon Sampson, former President of the Human Rights Commission says the Police have become a law unto themselves.
There is no zero tolerance for indiscipline, unprofessional conduct and the ever increasing physical abuse of citizens, particularly poor black Belizeans. Two or three weeks ago a massive contingent of three hundred police, many in military uniforms descended on areas of Southside Belize City. Brute force, massive disrespect, breaking down doors in their pre-dawn operation. They carted off ninety odd young men and a few women and ending up unlawfully imprisoning 27 persons.
This latest widening of mutual disrespect between citizens and police could have been handled entirely different. But state sponsored terrorism and beating young people is now the face of policing. Write – “here lies the first casualty, the death of community policing, others to follow.”
There is hope. The vast majority of police are not of that. A change of government is increasingly likely. A new government will bring a new Minister, a new Permanent Secretary and a new police department. The top tier of the Police Department has to go. For it is written in the gospel of Matthew Chapter 9 – Verses 14 to 17- you do not put new wine into old bottles, the bottle will break and the wine will waste.
Belize cannot continue to journey down the road of Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, where the police are the enemy of the people. Police are paid to protect the people. In Belize, the people need to be protected from the police. How did we ever reach such a low?
Against this backdrop is GI Jane. More than a decade ago she must have been starry eyed. She must have wanted to do her duty to help us fight crime. She joined the Police Department. Over the years she diligently served her country. Along the way she obtained a university degree. Then she continued and achieved a Master’s degree—a huge asset to the police.
But (there is always a ‘but’) her family are PUP. Her dad is a famous PUP. Her mom, a heroin in all respects, is blue blood PUP, it runs in her veins. Should the daughter be victimized for who her parents are? Yes, under Dean Barrow’s government that is standard operating procedure.
So the young lady becomes a corporal. Because she passed the police exams. Finally a sergeant. Yes! A Master’s degree wasting away. Diligence, dedication, competence, hard work and brains mean nothing.
There are those who fail the police exams and are promoted. It speaks volumes for any organization to disrespect brains and intelligence.
On Thursday last week the news mentioned several promotions in the department. Our GI Jane was mentioned as “acting Inspector.” Not even an acting Superintendent. There is provision in the law for accelerated promotions. She deserved promotion long ago. Fifteen years of top performance and acting Inspector is all she gets. This is nothing short of injustice. Injustice against a competent and qualified woman officer. The officer suffered her crucifixion in silence. It takes extraordinary strength to suffer 39 lashes, a crown of thorns and vinegar pushed in her mouth, without ever crying out.
The strength of a woman!
Now you know why intelligent young graduates don’t join the police department. And you now know why brute force and ignorance is the preferred method of tackling crime.
CHAMBER CHASTISES ATTORNEY GENERAL
The Chamber of Commerce felt constrained to issue a rare and unusual rebuke to the Attorney General.
It is the first time in Belize’s history that the business and commercial sector felt obliged to publicly chastise a high ranking legal advisor to government.
The Attorney General, who is a government Senator has fallen into a trap in which he behaves as if he is one of the mouth pieces of the UDP radio. He frequently resorts to petty personality attacks and ad hominem against other Senators, both opposition PUP and the social partners’ representative (except a certain pious pastor Senator).
One of the AG’s frequent targets is the Senator for the business and commerce sector of the country, Mark Lizarraga.
Senator Lizarraga uses no bombast, no rhetoric, no pompous performance. His effectiveness is employing facts, figures and data as he speaks truth to power.
No amount of childish insults, false labels and personality attacks will deter Senator Lizarraga from educating the public while holding government to account.
The PUP’s fiery morning show host, Vaughan Gill recently revealed a disturbing piece of information. In exposing the government’s heartless treatment of a police officer injured in his face while seeking to protect citizens from criminal attack, Vaughan raised the question about the past President of the Police Association who has been collecting five dollars monthly from almost one thousand officers.
This collection has been going for almost five years without any accounting by the outgoing President. At $60,000.00 per year for five years, $300,000.00.
The Ministry responsible for police needs to call in the Auditor General immediately. This is the hard earned monies of police officers.