REPORT #53 Mar 1999

Produced by the Belize Development Trust
The Belize Times the other day, said that they took out the petition capability of the REFERENDUM ACT, because they didn't want the government bothered with trivial petitions? The Belize Times is the voice of the PUP.

Ha! Ha! Ha! What a sad sack excuse for retaining autocratic dictatorial power!

The Referendum Act was supposed to introduce participatory democracy to a British orientated spoils, greedy autocratic elected dictatorship in Belize. Indeed, the new Prime Minister Musa had made various speeches and utterances to that goal as his heart's desire. We voters in Belize had elected him, because he was supposed to be the magnetic charismatic leader that would do what George Price did, with his introduction of Indepence as a country. It was the new Prime Minister's mandate to do the same with making Belize a participatory democracy. (Federalism and all that.) ( checks and balances- there are none now under the current system ).

So, what went wrong?

Was it the Prime Minister's faulty leadership? Or was he outvoted by his cabinet, or the cabinet outvoted by the elected representatives in his PUP controlling party and rubber stamp parliament/legislature?

What went wrong? The newspapers and media failed to report on the legislation and any debate, if there was any, about the referendum act and the business with the petitions.

We were supposed to make the Referendum Act a key provision of participatory democracy, with village voters in the minority capable of collecting signatures in their villages to question the policies of Village Councils, when there was disagreement. The voters would decide by referendum, if the minority could get 5% of the signatures on a petition for such a referendum to be called within 90 days. At District government level ( if we ever get such a thing - same thing ). At NATIONAL GOVERNMENT level, it was to be 2% of the voters who had voted in the last election. ( not registered voters , but 2% of those who had voted in the last election.) Copied from California legislation.

What happened? The PUP cheated! They lied and cheated! They did a cosmetic deal and made it so only the government and rubber stamp legislature could call a referendum on subjects they felt were needed. In effect, they insulted and stole away the promise of participatory democracy from the citizens of Belize. They as a group, the PUP party in the rubber stamp legislature! Not the Prime Minister. This debacle is a group theft and insult by the PUP party elected representatives.

It is pure GREED, Power hungry, turf protectionism by the few, against checks and balances from the minority, or majority in the nation. Pure power hungry dictatorship lust.

Can Civil Society organizations, bring pressure to bear? Can the conscience of those sincere PUP party members bring pressure to bear on elected representatives? Can the goodwill of the Prime Minister with public support overcome the greed and lust for power, perks and advantages in the PUP political party that controls the nation of Belize? Can the PUP political party LEAD, the way to a better participatory democracy? We wonder! So far, this is such a frustrating, insulting disregard for introducing democratic mechanisms into the society of Belize the nation, that, it is more than disappointing. Words cannot describe the failure of the PUP political party to lead and initiate while holding all that dictatorial power and a rubber stamp legislature.

It was amazing the media didn't follow up on the debate, or lack of debate. Nobody expected the Opposition to do so. It has been their evowed declaration through Esquivel, that they do not want democracy for Belize, but wish to keep the autocratic elected dictatorship with all its advantages for personal enrichment. Woe for poor Belize, captive to the greed and lust of British style autocratic party politics, wherein, the nation gets to elect a party, but any gang within a party, only have to elect one of their gang as Prime Minister, then they get jobs as spendthrift cabinet ministers, as cronies and appointed perks. The gangs usually come from the port Belize City and these small groups know full well, if you control the political party apparatus, get one member as Party Leader, the country, the treasury, land and perks are all yours to do with what you want. ( See Nigeria as another example, or Jamaica!) Woe to poor Belize, victim to rapacious party politics in the British spoils system!

Yet, there obviously is some good intent, somewhere in the PUP party. The Village Council Act was a very good first attempt at participatory democracy. The Town Act was obviously not necessarily against democracy, but simply written by somebody who does not know what demcoracy is. Pure mistake. But the Referendum Act, was deliberate, malicious and counter productive turf and privilege protectionism. The PUP political party have to do some soul searching and education among themselves and get their ideas sorted out. Goals set and priorities lined up.

Produced by the Belize Development Trust

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