REPORT #375 August 2000
VARIOUS DEVELOPMENT ISSUES & COMMENTARY EFFECTING BELIZE


Produced by the Belize Development Trust

USA GIVES CONFLICTING MESSAGES TO BELIZE AND THE CARIBBEAN!
It seems sometimes that the USA government is dealing with such widespread bureaucracies and departments that there is no unification on programs, ideas and policies. Some of them are so contradictory to Belize and the rest of the Caribbean, you don't know how to intrepret USA policy? The left hand does not seem to know what the right hand is doing?

On the one hand, there is the Agricultural and DEA departments talking up a storm for crop diversification and economic diversification in their WAR ON DRUGS; yet on the other hand, a Presidency that is owned and run by big business interests. We have the WAR ON TAX HAVENS to exclude small countries from getting a piece of the world financial pie. Since it can only come out of the UK and the USA portions of the pie, one can see where big business would be pushing their interests into Presidential policies. Yet on the other hand, Caribbean countries are also told, they should DIVERSIFY their economies and not rely on USA foreign aid.

Then there is the case of crop diversification. In the case of BANANAS, the Europeans have established a different type of foreign aid, based on earning it at subsidized prices, but foreign aid nonetheless. However, it is foreign aid in the finest sense of the word, in that you have to grow and sell something and the money misses the local government and goes directly to farmers who produce. This is foreign aid with human pride and dignity, and limited only by one's ability to work and produce. Fine stuff! But the USA, a none producing banana country, but whose financiers and investors control many countries that do produce bananas, have their political influence through campaign donations effecting and controlling USA foreign policy seeking to eliminate this type of European style foreign aid, which is superior to any that the USA offer. More reliable too! Yet the Agricultural Department and the DEA want countries in the Caribbean to grow diversified agriculture crops to eliminate drug crops. They can't have it both ways! They need to get their act together in the USA and send clear messages on their foreign policies.

One country in the Caribbean has put it plain recently. You close us out of financial market competition with your OECD and IMF control and that of the World Bank, or our banana foreign aid, then we are going to have no choice to go back to making the production of marijuana legal as an export crop.

You can't have it both ways USA! Make up your mind. Quit giving contradictory messages. What the HELL DO YOU WANT?


REPORT SAYS ONLY EIGHT COUNTRIES IN LATIN AMERICA HAVE ANY POTENTIAL TO IMPACT A GLOBAL DIGITAL ECONOMY. BELIZE IS A NON-SHOW!
Bruce W. McConnnel one of the report's authors on the networked world and E-Commerce says only eight countries in Latin America are ready to grab opportunities. These are Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru and Venezuela.

Belize is a non-show due to the BTL monopoly failure to keep up with growth and telecommunications greed for profits. BTL has made their investors rich several times over the original investments, but has failed to supply Belize with the infra-structure to make us a competitor. Propoganda from BTL has always been biased to telling us how better we are as guaged against Honduras, another loser. Instead of comparing progress with Costa Rica, a winner in global e-commerce telecommunication policies.

Belize has not yet created the conditions that permit full participation in the digital economy. McConnell is the President of McConnell International, a global policy and technology consulting firm in Washington, D.C.

42 countries were looked at in the report. High on the list of requirements was; connectivity, e-commerce leadership, information security, human capital investments, the e-business climate and government services by the internet.

Roslyn Docktor, a co-author gives Costa Rica as one of the most welcoming environments for e-business in all of Latin America and the Caribbean. Our own BTL has studiously avoided comparing itself to Costa Rica. For instance, Costa Rica has eliminated import taxes on computer related equipment. While the telecommunications business is still government owned, the internet access rates are the lowest of all the countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Argentina and Chile are starting to open up their telecommunications businesses to competition. Brazil lets citizens file income tax by e-mail. Peru has automated government processes and services by e-mail. Peru also is making great strides to providing telecommunications in even the most remote areas. It is no joke to see a Brazilian indian, with blow pipe for hunting and laptop swinging in his hammock, under his thatch roof palapa on a remote jungle river.

Probably in the world outside the USA, Hungary is the one that has invested heaviest in education. Ireland beats England in this field. Estonia is privatizing government businesses at a rapid rate and providing government by e-mail. The government even provides FREE internet access points. Central and Southern Europe are the most ready.

Belize continues to be consigned to the doldrums for another 1 1/2 years by the BTL MONOPOLY.


ELECTRICITY PRODUCING COMPETITION STILL FLOUNDERS IN BELIZE, BUT SEEMS TO BE ROUGHLY ON TRACK FOR NEW DEVELOPMENTS!
Fortis would like to build another hydro dam, called Chalillo. But since Fortis is now a private electrical producer, who just happens to be the owner of BEL the outfit that is privately owned and runs the national power grid ( who owns that?), their Chalillo dam project is based on getting the same inflated profit making prices for electricity from the Belizean citizen consumer as they get from the Mollejon Dam. Not so, say the critics!

Any new investment into this type of electrical production, as in a hydro dam at Chalillo will have to meet the formula for selling electricity to BEL at a price below that of any current lowest price that BEL now buys at, this is because it is not a new idea, or project. This eliminates it from getting special inflated rates for any electricity produced. The Mennonites have already built a hydro dam in Belize locally financed. This pricing formula is expected to make FORTIS find Chalillo an unprofitable venture. Making Chalillo a dead issue. Passed by in competitive electrical producing events.

BSI the sugar factory in the meantime is seeking a guaranteed quasi-monopoly 20 year contract for 15 megawatts produced by bagasse, a waste product of cane sugar production for six months a year only. This contract idea is worthless! It eliminates other competition from entering the field. Suppose in three years, somebody puts up four windmills of 4 megawatts each. If they will beat the price of electricity produced by BSI shouldnt BEL be allowed to buy what they need from the lowest bidder? Only the nation and the consumer can benefit from lowered prices from competition. Government taxes will stay the same, or increase and profits will rise for BEL. Isn't this what competition is about? Why cut off your nose to spite your face? If BSI cannot invest without a contract, as an investment venture in the traditions of all speculation investment business, then maybe they shouldn't even bother? Would you give six water taxies a 20 year contract and thus eliminate all the other water taxi competion? Doesn't make sense!


BIM AND SPEAR REVERT TO PORT TOWN SOCIAL SCENE!
Seems to be a lot of local activity in the port town Belize City. See BIM is putting on things for local city entrepreneurs. They don't seem to be getting out to the districts, like San Antonio, or Crique Sarco, or Forest Home. Discussion group by SPEAR in the port town for local folks who like to discuss and debate Political Reform. Not much going on in the districts though as to political reform discussions and seminars and such. Pure local social scene stuff in that old colonial capital the port in the coastal middle of the country passed off as national debate. ( chuckle! The pretensions of those city folks )


DANGRIGA RIVER SUPPOSEDLY THE MOST POLLUTED RIVER IN BELIZE?
Dangriga river seems to be widely polluted, from unofficial non-permitted sand mining, run offs from chemicals used in the Pomona Valley citrus orchard industry and citrus waste pond overflows. Probably the insecticide buildup in the river bottom sediments is the worst thing for the future. The only testing apparently is for PH done with Swimming Pool kits used for backyard pools. No bacterial testing, or insecticide buildups in bottom sediments. Looks like the future of the Dangriga River is not going to be good. We are going to join Russia and some Canadian rivers and USA rivers looks like?


FEMALES IN BELIZE FROM DANGRIGA AND BELIZE CITY BETWEEN 14 AND 34 YEARS OF AGE ARE THE MOST INFECTED WITH HIV!
HIV/AIDS statistics are horrendous! Really bad! The biggest places for AIDS infections are Dangriga Town and the port of Belize City. The cultural mores are the problem. In Dangriga, the Garifuna culture is matriarcheal and women can change their men at any time, as they own everything, from houses to farms. In the port city of Belize City, the culture is CREOLE and here it is different. Most sibling children have different fathers. Various reasons. Sex is recreational for one thing. Another, Sex is used to get money by uneducated females in one form or another. There is also the common practice of naming several men as the father, so at least some money might come in from a percentage of them.


Elsewhere in the nation of Belize, there is more emphasis in the cultures to stay at home and some condemnation of promiscuity in the Mestizo and Mayan cultures. Not that it doesn't happen, but the frequency of extra sex is a small fraction, compared to the cultural traditions of Garifuna and Creoles. HIV/AIDS though is a non-cultural/racial pandemic plague that though slow to kill, is fatal nevertheless. People with HIV and people without knowing they have HIV continue to have sex with multiple partners.


EMMIGRATION PATTERNS FROM THE PORT TOWN ARE HIGH!
Over the next ten years, about 20,000 people in Belize will die from AIDS complications. Females are now outnumbering males as to carriers of the plague. The biggest group to be hit are between 14 and 34 years of age. About 50% of which will be dead in ten years from now. Wonder what that will do to census figures?


Migration patterns, mostly from the port towns of Dangriga and the port of Belize City though will probably siphon off about 20,000 a year population as they go to greener pastures. Population is growing, albeit at a slower rate than would be indicated by human reproduction patterns. This indicates an outflow of emmigration.


GOVERNMENT BUREAUCRATS SEEK A PIECE OF THE WATER TAXI AUTHORITY REGULATION SYSTEM
The Water Taxi Association has done a wonderful job of regulation without any government interference, but you know those control freaks from the port city in the bureaucracy, they are talking up a storm about regulating water taxies now. This means more taxes to support their salaried lifestyles. Why don't they build a water taxi and go into business instead? This bureaucratic freeloading has got to stop, or the country will collapse.


CHALILLO DEAD AS A DODO! FORTIS WON'T PUSH IT, IF THEY HAVE TO COMPETE IN ELECTRICAL PRICES WITH CHETUMAL.
The Chalillo Dam idea seems to be an idea that is getting remoter all the time, notwithstanding the FORTIS people who are in favor, for profits. Economically it does not make any sense. It cannot sell electricity at below the lowest cost BEL can now get electricity from private producers, or via Chetumal. If the Chalillo Dam project cannot compete to produce electricity lower than present lowest costs, then it has no economic viability from a government standpoint, or a consumer standpoint either. It doesn't matter if FORTIS own BEL either. Nobody in their right mind are going to be in favor of an electrical producing project, in which the cost of electricity is higher than private competition formulas below the lowest cost of current electrical sources. Only if FORTIS could sell the electricity at higher inflated costs would it be profitable for them. Nobody using common sense would buy that argument.


GULF OF HONDURAS DISASTER FROM ROATAN, BAY ISLANDS.
A 180 foot freight boat going from Cortez to Roatan capsized. Some people washed ashore on Hunting Caye. The boat was called Roatan Express 11.


NEW UNIVERSITY OF BELIZE HAS UPBEAT FIRST ORIENTATION PROGRAM
Real upbeat orientation at the 3 day event for the new University of Belize. 38 programs are being offered. There has been some talk about students not looking for salaried jobs, Belize does not need that. It wants students who will create their own jobs and businesses.


GAMBLING ADDICTS NOW RIVALLING CRACK COCAINE ADDICTS IN BELIZE IN RISING NUMBERS.
Gambling addiction statistically is growing higher in the port town of Belize City from casinos and one armed bandit machines and a couple of the island resort locals. It will soon be on a par with crack cocaine for numbers of addicts in trouble.


NATIONAL LIBRARY SERVICE COULD USE A FEW MILLION DOLLARS TO SERVICE 300 RURAL VILLAGES.
Joy Ysaguirre of the National Library Service, but basically serving the port of Belize City has a neat program for reading students, with well known celebrities reading books on a Saturday. Prime Minister Musa was one such reader for children a couple of Saturdays ago.

In Santa Elena Public Library they are offering computer classes, with volunteer teachers from the Agricultural department. Volunteers are Alfonso Bautista and Ricardo Harrison.

The national libraries out district in regional centers are in dire straits. They are getting buildings, but lack money and resources. Volunteerism is the only way they can make an impact. The total National Library Service budget is a joke, not even the average salary of a single teacher in the USA. Much less trying to build and run 300 libraries nationwide on about $40,000 USA a year. (This figure was accurate about 3 years ago. It may have changed slightly) They need a couple of million dollar grant from some International donor.


FOREIGN DONORS SHOULD GIVE GRANTS DIRECTLY TO THE VILLAGE COUNCIL ASSOCIATION AND BY-PASS THE MIDDLE MAN OF CENTRAL GOVERNMENT IN BELMOPAN, FOR BETTER PRIORITIES AND EFFICIENT SPENDING!
If foreign countries and donors wish to give GRANTS, they would be wise to by-pass Belmopan and the national government, or the port town Belize City system and give the GRANTS directly to rural serving NGO's or the Association of Village Councils. The needs and priorities would be better addressed for the nation this way.


PUP TOWN ACT OF A YEAR AGO, PROVES TO BE A DUD AS FORECAST BY THE BELIZE DEVELOPMENT TRUST.
Apparently the diluted PUP Town Councils ACT is useless pretty much for autonomy. According to the example of the town of Dangriga. They are getting subventions or GRANTS to pay bills and supply services from a centralized administration on town boundaries of 30 years ago, but are expected to give service to a town that has multiplied many times in size since then. But have no authority under a centralized system of governing to change the town boundaries to collect more property taxes. Apparently the TOWN Councils ACT of the PUP only reinforced the centralized methodology of government as in colonial autocracy. The central government as always is inefficient and too busy to look after district problems. Belmopan and Belize City are the centers of attention and finance from national government.


AGRICULTURE DEPARTMENT HOLD FRUIT PROCESSING SEMINAR IN CENTRAL FARM. WHAT A JOKE IN PUBLIC SERVICE!
Taiwanese Food Processing Expert, Mr. Kuo-Shien Tu is giving a seminar on tropical dehydrated fruit processing at Central Farm Agricultural branch of the University of Belize.

If we had a dollar for every time bureaucrats were given seminars, I'd be a rich man. The problem is, that bureaucrats don't do anything. They don't have any need, or interest except curiousity.

If the Agricultural department cannot get this processing seminar to the 288 villages of the nation in person, they are failing at their job. Distribute the information to the 288 villages via Community Center, or School building seminars, or quit your job. Cause you are not doing it and building a nation otherwise. Nuff said! Old message and sore throat.


MEDICAL PRACTICE IN BELIZE IS GETTING WORSE!
Charges have been made, that the government of Belize is adopting too many of the USA big drug company policies in treatments. A sort of after you get sick emergency style treatment, instead of the superior preventative medicine treatment we had before. In world order the USA is low down in medical treatment quality about 37th in rank. I am in Florida today, no health insurance and trying to doctor an ingrown infected toenail for months. You can't get medical treatment in the USA, unless you are a well paid civil servant like in Belize also. Private medicine is outrageously expensive. There is effectively no medical treatment for the majority of people in the USA, other than drugstore over the counter self treatment methods.

European countries, particularly France and Germany are well ahead of the USA in medicine research and development. But the USA FDA, a monopoly for promotion of riches for the US medical industry and drug producers will not recognize European drugs. Yet there are often better drugs from Europe than from the USA. Malaria I am told is preventable by artemisia, but not recognized by the USA FDA. Why? No profit in it! Belize could grow it's own artemisia plants. Same with many other medicines. Belize doctors it is charged are switching to USA style drug emergency medicine and not herbal and preventative medicine, because like their USA counterparts, it shows quick profits to the doctor. Giving antibiotics for a fever, which is malaria is one example. A waste of money and antibiotic.


STERILIZING DRINKING RIVER WATER FOR CHOLERA BACTERIA IN REMOTE VULNERABLE MAYAN VILLAGES.
A new study shows that if you take a plastic 2 liter Coca Cola bottle and fill it with water and paint half of the bottle black and place on a black plastic sheet, or iron, the heat of the sun on the water will sterilize it and kill cholera bacteria. Apparently 98% of any parasites, bacteria, virus'S, etc., will be killed in river water if left to cook for an hour or so, in the tropical sun inside such a plastic container. How to get this message to the people in the 300 villages of Belize in remote parts though? That is the question? They don't usually have chlox either, or bleach, which one drop per gallon of drinking water will do the same thing.

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