REPORT #245 May 2000
GROWING POVERTY IN BELIZE AND LATIN AMERICA IS THREATENING THE TIDE OF DEMOCRACY, USA SECRETARY OF STATE MADELINE ALBRIGHT CLAIMS IN A SPEECH LAST MONDAY


Produced by the Belize Development Trust

PERSISTANT POVERTY and INEFFECTIVE GOVERNMENT are threatening the democratic tide that began 20 years ago in Latin America, said Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright on Monday last. ( End of April, 2000)

Too often government policy and programs serve to increase poverty, not reduce it. She went on to say that countries may once again be lead down the dead-end road of authoritarian rule, strong person leader/ruler style government and the tide is turning wrongly, she said. The big problem with ruler/leader style authoritarian government is bribery and corruption that corrodes the many institutions and transactions from a government that is supposed to serve the public sector.

Belize is included in this review. Belize of course is an authoritarian strong person ruler/leader type of government. The very antithesis of democracy and public service on an equal basis to every voting individual. Belize is a preferential patronage style governing condition. You brown nose the party in power, you get things. You oppose the political party in power, you get punished, persecuted, deprived and do without.

Poverty has come about during the last 20 years in Belize, mostly in the port town of Belize City. Poverty we define in Belize, as possible actual starvation and lack of rudimentary facilities for good health.

Belizean scholars that have done intensive studies of the political cause and effects of the growth of poverty in Belize, blame the root cause as the inherited colonial method of "population representation". The town of Belize City, the old colonial capital on the coast, got the most representative seats in government. The townies control the cabinet and all appointments and disbursements of financial aid, policy programs and allocations without recourse to any checks and balances in the system. Individuals that are blamed for the growth of poverty in Belize; are Esquivel, Lindo, Barrow, Musa, Fonseca, to name a few. They in turn, political scholars studying the political cause and effect methodology of Belizean style authoritarian government say; are simply obeying the rule of human nature. This is first to serve one's self first. Or apply greed! The townies need jobs and government elected representative positions are the best paid individual jobs in Belize for people who are incapable of successful business entrepreneurship. Of these individuals, most would be non-entities in any truly national democracy political campaigning, with checks and balances and a wider spread Federated style of democracy in Belize. They could not compete successfully in national campaigns against well known district figures of reputation. The only ones capable of winning government positions in any democratic Federated national government model would be George Price and Said Musa. The rest are unknowns in the rest of the country. The names and reputations are not national. They are purely a local one-town politician. Thus the fear factor of loss of government jobs, reinforces the growth of the political power of the old town of Belize City. Having to earn a living in the public sector is a frightening scenario for townie politicians and government job seekers. They will not encourage the democratic style of Federated District government that would truly build a nation and eliminate poverty in ten years. Poverty and starvation with the natural wealth of the nation of Belize should be a non-issue under Federated democratic style consensual government.

Because the population representation system gave to the old port town, more elected political party seats in the national government under the colonial inherited population representation system; the situation became a country run for and by townie politicians. They in turn simply obeyed their self interest; which was to cater to their voters and thus the port town of old Belize City, received a disproportionate share of national expenditures and revenues. For decades, everything was funneled to the port, from a Central Bank, to higher education, to Ministry offices. This led to the growth of the city to triple it's size and is expected to continue in the forseeable future.

Yet, the country and nation of Belize has plenty of land, a small population, immense resources and much opportunity. Belize is actually a wealthy country. While people may be poor, they can build houses and shelter and grow their own food if they live in villages, or rural homesteads. There is absolutely no need of POVERTY in Belize the nation, from the definition of STARVATION and lack of normal health services, such as latrines and water supply.

What we do have, in a population representative system, as seen around the world, throughout Africa, Latin America and Asia. Is the growth of cities. With the growth of cities, we see the growth of poverty and social problems. The growth of poverty and starvation is because cities control national politics, which encourages the majority of elected representatives to funnel development into the cities for more votes and more chance for re-election. The cities get larger and the problems of starvation get larger with them.

It is a self-defeating cycle of the growth of poverty, cities, social problems and starvation. When in fact, it never needs to be, at least in the context of the nation of Belize. The answer is to swing from authoritarian ruler/leader style paternilistic patronage politics, to a democractic model, that uses both geographic representation, and population representation in the form of DISTRICT GRANT allocations and city, town and village financial allocations to bring about a home and chance for all equally, to enjoy a reasonable standard of living.

Alas, the townie politicians under the current system are perpetuating the voter population representation power base and thus increasing the social problems, unequal development, poverty and starvation. It is only human nature to serve oneself first. What Belize needs is a political party that can be brand new, to look at a newer way of democratic government; that can be done without the issue of self interest overriding the needs of national development and patriotism. We need patriotic government for a term.

Unfortunately Madeleine Albright; while we in Belize realize the problem and the solutions; it is not likely to change under the guidance of people like Esquivel, Lindo, Barrow, Musa and Fonseca. Our would be ruler/leaders seek self-interest first and the interest of the nation of Belize second. Patriotic development democratic vision is severly distorted because of the vagaries of human nature. It is only natural!

The financial means of creating a new political reform party is lacking in competition with the resources of the old port Belize City.

You truly want to change the way democracy is run in Belize, solve poverty in Belize and create democratic change, put your money where your mouth is!

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