Clientelism and other UDP campaign strategies

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Last minute preparations continue in the deepest corners of Belize for the General Elections which are just two weeks away.  Magically, funds which were readily available to see us through the pandemic and which mysteriously disappeared are now quite suddenly back.  In the very last moments it seems that tablets, pantries, masks, weed eaters and even sewing machines have appeared seemingly out of thin air.  After much protesting about flags and election propaganda, many have had a sudden change of heart and joyfully joined in.

There is a bitter taste in the mouths of many voters over the bonanza of freebies given out by members of the UDP during campaign season.  In fact, this current UDP set has mastered the particular distasteful talent of conditioning access to basic rights, services, and publicly funded social safety nets in exchange for votes and party support.  It is very alarming that those same self-righteous UDP candidates have no compunction about using public funds and tax dollars collected from Belizeans who are now struggling under in this ravaged economy made worse by this pandemic.

It is widely discussed by the World Bank that there is a disproportionate correlation between vote buying and the provision of public funded services.  Khemani et al. 2016 has provided empirical evidence that suggests that “electoral incentives that center on clientelism rather than public goods provision,” promote social fragmentation and those communities receive less than their fair share of public investment.  Belizeans have lived this rough reality for the last twelve years.  Our communities bear the evidence of neglect and symptoms of the greater rot at the base.

The infrastructure projects that have been the hallmark of this UDP administration are crumbling just like their leadership.  We can see that pantries, the Covid relief funds, and even land are being blatantly offered in exchange for votes and party support.  The UDP has had almost thirteen years to make a difference but the experts tell us what we already knew, they keep us face down in the dirt with their foot on the back of our necks.  It is not by coincidence; it is done intentionally to keep us poor and in desperate need with our bellies empty and our hands out.

The UDP is as rabid and voracious as ever.  They would like to sell the idea to Belizeans that they are new and improved like Tide with bleach.  The truth is they remain pretty much the same at the core.  Different demon intent on giving us the very same nightmare.  It is time for the populace to wake up and stay woke.  The time for change is now.  Progress will come only when these practices end and when our people are freed from the despots.  Our resources must be invested in our country and people in its entirety, our next Prime Minister John Briceo and the PUP will ensure that it is so.