THINK ABOUT IT (Jan 21)

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CORDEL – REVOLUTIONARY

What the Honourable Cordel Hyde has done is as close to revolutionary as a government Minister can do.

Last week he visited Dangriga to personally meet and discuss with citizens their aspirations to own a piece of land.

Imagine, the Deputy Prime Minister of the nation, with all the burden and pressures of his high office and other portfolio responsibilities, finds the time, no, makes time to travel to Griga to work. He took a portion of his Ministry staff to process applications. Over two hundred Belizeans relished the golden opportunity to see and converse with their new Minister of Lands.

Other land Ministers have turned up in constituencies to hand out land papers. But it was always just before an election as part of vote bribery and political gimmickry.

There ain’t no general elections for the next five years and Cordel certainly does not need a few handful of votes.

What Cordel has done sets a high bar. He has indicated he would wish to visit other districts for the same purpose. This is a new policy direction. For a Minister, in this case the Deputy Prime Minister, to personally go out to serve the people directly is a new phenomenon for our former colonial country.

This is huge and transformational. It speaks volume for the new government. It can only be compared to the great George Price. He constantly toured the country meeting people and listening to their concerns.

We understand the new Prime Minister is considering requesting all his Ministers and area representatives to set aside Wednesday mornings for meeting any citizens who have problems which the government bureaucracy is not solving. Meeting constituents should be an on-going process at the paid-for constituency offices.

The significance of Cordel’s working tour with regards to empowering citizens with land is a major initiative. Major!

Respect Deputy.

HUGO PATT COMMITTED A CRIME

At the first working meeting of the National Assembly two Fridays ago, the on-going revelations of the UDP government corruption, wrong doing and shenanigans continue to pour out.

The shocking and disgraceful dealings with the country’s land is appalling. Wishing to paint a different picture on one of the many misdeeds, former lands Minister Hugo Patt explained that he gave a SIX MILLION dollars worth of land to a UDP crony for twenty six thousand dollar. He said this was because government might have changed and the PUP would give away the land.

The big problem for the Ex-Minister Hugo Pat is that he had no authority to give away SIX MILLION dollars worth of land. The land was bought from a private owner for SIX MILLION dollars. There is no authority for Hugo Patt to give away the people’s property to a single individual just before election. That is defrauding the revenue.

The police recently charged two public officers for defrauding government of thirty five thousand dollars.

But the police have not yet arrested ex-UDP Minister Herman Longsworth who stole thousands of dollars of Sports Council monies. Nor have they even interviewed or charged John Saldivar for evading income taxes, money laundering or any crime for the tranches of over one hundred thousand dollars from Dermen.

Neither has the police brought any charges against ex-UDP Minister Rene Montero. To our knowledge the police have not even obtained a statement from the Whistleblower De La Rosa, who has explosive explanations and allegations against Montero.

So maybe we can understand why Hugo Patt can publicly admit to a crime and the police look the other way.

SHORT OF JUDGES

Not one but two judges have resigned from the criminal division of the Supreme Court. One of these is Colin Williams who was a champion for the liberty of citizens locked up in prison without a trial and those who face trial without having a lawyer. There is now no judge doing criminal cases in Belize City. The situation is dread.

There are four candidates who may be interested to be judges. Among the best lawyers practicing in court is Anthony Sylvestre. He has also successfully challenged several Constitutional issues affecting fair trial and the justice of accused persons. The Caribbean Court of Appeal most times rule in favour of Mr. Sylvestre’s submissions.

Second is Merlene Moody who has worked in the court system all her life.  For Prosecutor, Crown Counsel, Magistrate and private practice attorney, she has a wealth of knowledge and experience.

There is also the DPP Mrs. Cheryl Lynn Vidal, very knowledgeable in the criminal law. And there is the current Chief Magistrate Sharon Fraser who is highly experienced.

The shortage situation in the Magistrate court is a little better.

No Magistrate in Benque, San Ignacio, Independence, one short in Belmopan and Belize City is limping along. Two persons fresh out of law school have been appointed. But to place green lawyers as Magistrates in the districts is an injustice to citizens.

We need to ask, why is attorney Selgado being repeatedly denied an opportunity to serve as a Magistrate? And why aren’t more lawyers volunteering to help resolve the shortage by serving a one year or two years stint.

BARROW’S DISGRACEFUL TREATMENT OF MINITA GORDON

To the everlasting shame of Dean Barrow, among the long list of shameful things he has done, was his treatment of Minita Gordon.

In 1993, the UDP won the general election by four votes. It was the second time UDP won an election. Their first was in 1984, by 1989 the people kicked them out of office, primarily because of the unbearable arrogance of Dean Barrow and the cold hearted behavior of then Prime Minister Esquivel.

The 1993 election was so close that the UDP was an insecure government. There was talk of UDP Ministers crossing over to the PUP. Like in communist countries, a “plot” was uncovered to induce UDP Ministers to join the PUP and so cause a change of government.

Said Musa was arrested and as was a Don from Dangriga, the indefatigable Clinton Pele Hernandez. They were charged and taken to court.

An alleged part of the “plot” was that once two or three elected UDPs changed and joined the PUP, the Governor General would have no choice but to recognize that the PUP now have a majority and would replace the UDP as the government.

Barrow and Esquivel were in panic. They removed Minita Gordon and replaced her with Colville Young a former candidate who lost to Lindy Rogers. Way back in the 1960’s.

Dame Minita Gordon, who had a University degree, then obtained a Master’s degree and further obtained a Doctorate degree was unceremoniously thrown out of office and treated like dirt. Over the past thirteen years she was left to fend for herself. No pension, no driver, no medical insurance. It is shocking.

On Wednesday 20th January, 2021, our first Governor General was buried, Former Prime Minister Dean Barrow did not attend. Quite rightly. Of the few persons Jesus condemned were hypocrites. Even Love FM commented in their Wednesday newscast of the insult of Mr. Barrow. Opposition Leader Patrick Faber turned up at the church service late. Oh mein! Disrespectful.

SMART STREAM

The government service replaced the old manual voucher system of paying out public monies, for a computerized modern system called the Smart Stream.

Smart Stream is a bonanza for crooks, thieves and embezzlers who have been robbing public funds from day one. Now and then some are caught. Last week, two public officers were taken to court for easily defrauding the Smart Stream of thirty five thousand dollars. The month before that over fifty thousand dollars were embezzled. As easy as Sunday morning.

Obviously there are flaws and serious loopholes in the Smart Stream.

Time to tackle it.

ANOTHER ONE BITES THE DUST

Gregory Bowen 38 years of age was detained at the Queen Street Police Station on the weekend of 2nd and 3rd January, 2021. He was found dead in the cell. Police say he hung himself with his pants. There is no cause to disbelieve the story. It turned out the police are familiar with Bowen and according to his family they knew from past experiences that Bowen had a mental problem.

This is not the first dearth in custody of the mentally ill.

Two things need to change urgently. The bad habit of police detaining persons for up to two days then releasing them without any charge. An open violation of their constitutionally-protected right to their freedom.

The second one is the urgent need for the new Minister of Health to get involved and put in place a proper, effective procedure to deal with mental persons outside of office hours. In the evening, night and weekend when the Port Loyola clinic is closed, these poor sick persons are left to the mercy of the world.

IF CHANGES ARE TO MADE, IT’S UP TO WE

“The question isn’t who is going to let me, it is who is going to stop me. ”– Ayn Rand.