Letter to the Editor

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REACH UP! REACH OUT! REVITALIZE AND REVOLUTIONIZE DANGRIGA!!!

Now that the New Year is underway, people in Dangriga, Belize and all over the world are in anxious expectation of better things to come. 2020 was marked by challenges of unparalleled proportions, but 2021 has been ushered in with matchless hope that by the power of the Divine Hand, recovery and even prosperity are not only possible, but inevitable.

Dangriga will not be left out of the revolution that will come upon the world. This revolution will embrace innovative technologies to transform the way we communicate, work, engage, produce, and live as a human family. We must prioritize urban and community planning; economic development; environment and natural resources; health and human services; as well as land administration.

Even amid the chaos and confusion happening in our world today, the human spirit is undergoing a transformation like never before in modern history. These birth-pains of humanity are a sign of new and greater things to come. As Dangrigans too experience our own struggles—including job losses and loss of loved ones—the indomitable will to survive, thrive and pay homage to those who have gone before us, will ignite a fire in those who will not give up; who will propel themselves from unemployed to employer, from jobless to creating jobs for others.

A resilient people will not shrink in the face of hardships. By reaching up, we will birth new ways of doing things, and reach out to others who will join in the mission to transform our lives and our communities. This movement will revitalize our economy and revolutionize our industries.

Your next Dangriga Town Council must not shrink the payroll, but find innovative ways to empower people to tap into their true potential to produce the kind of wealth that will confound the existing trends. Those in leadership positions must set the example by channeling those resources which they have been using for luxurious living, into the hands that have been emptied by the COVID-19 pandemic and the scourge of persistent poverty. The Council’s Management must be prudent enough to give Dangriga ‘bang for its buck’.

The entire community must take ownership of this effort. Everyone has a part to play in this revolution: from businesses to churches; from schools to NGOs; from political leaders to the leaders of the next generation. Women and men; youth and elders; Belizean and migrant – it does not matter who you are or where you came from, every resident of Dangriga Town has a vested interest in its progress.

This revitalization must see a raise to the minimum wage so that dignity can be restored to all workers; it must empower those who have stood at the fringes of society for far too long; it must respect the role of women and their right to be treated equally, regardless of conventional gender norms; it must ensure that elders are not treated as dispensable, and ‘only one foot away from the grave’; it must provide an enabling environment for farmers and fishers to take advantage of technological innovations and emerging markets; it must protect especially women and girls from sex trafficking, sexual violence, or any other form of gender-based violence; there must be a social safety net for all Belizeans, and especially those elders who have built this community over the past decades. Can you envision the revitalization and revolution that will birth the City of Dangriga?

This is the overarching vision – to realize the kind of transformation that will not just get us through the COVID-19 pandemic, but that will take us to higher heights as a model for the rest of Belize and the world. Imagine a community where uncommon people can tap their power to be the true drivers and engines of economic growth; where Dangriga’s women pool their talents and resources to dominate markets – even the unconventional ones; where sewing cooperatives and modern business franchises—rather than handouts and feeding programs—put food on the dinner table. The power lies in all of us upon whose backs this community has been built; community leaders and political leaders are your humble servants, placed in positions of authority to enable and empower every citizen to bring out the best out in themselves.

Reclaim your power; reclaim your destiny! Reach Up! Reach Out! Revitalize and Revolutionize Dangriga!!!

Thanks

Derrick Velasquez