Amandala....

14/11/08) The Prime Minister, Hon. Dean Barrow, has done a good job of maintaining his personal equilibrium, but a lot of things have gone wrong in his administration since the early euphoria of February this year. This is how it always is, sooner or later, in poor countries, but Belize was supposed to be better off today than we are.

The Prime Minister, Hon. Dean Barrow, has done a good job of maintaining his personal equilibrium, but a lot of things have gone wrong in his administration since the early euphoria of February this year. This is how it always is, sooner or later, in poor countries, but Belize was supposed to be better off today than we are.

A large part of Barrow’s problem, in his capacity as Leader of Belize, is Lord Michael Ashcroft. Ashcroft subverted the 1989–1993 George Price administration when he seduced Ralph, Glenn and Said. Then he financed the overthrow of Manuel Esquivel in 1998. After that, he intimidated Said Musa to the point where Mr. Musa began making big mistakes in 2002 and 2003. Now he is harassing the new Barrow administration to the extent that the Prime Minister must surely feel frustrated.

The trick for colonial powers after they reach the point of granting independence to former colonies, is how to go through the independence motions while continuing their economic and even political domination of the colonies turned nation-states.

Lord Ashcroft’s zeroing in on Belize in 1985, and his “warree tick” behaviour in the third millennium, suggest to us that Michael is more than Ashcroft: he is Buckingham Palace.

Having experienced the indignity of watching his sovereign state repeatedly reduced to the role of litigant in Lord Ashcroft’s myriad, unending law suits in Belize City and London, and to have, on the top of that, cynical observers speculate that his former wife is earning windfall fees from those said litigations as GOB’s attorney, Mr. Barrow decided to attack the Lord of Chichester with increased taxation measures aimed at the Lord’s bank and at his telecommunications company.

The complication with respect to the telecommunications company is the unique Speednet/SMART “competition” which Ashcroft/BTL appeared to create in 2006, and which is owned by the Leader of the PUP Opposition, Hon. Johnny Briceño. More than that, Johnny’s bosom buddy, Eamon Courtenay, the PUP’s new national campaign manager, has been repeatedly representing Ashcroft’s BTL in Magistrate’s and Supreme Court.

In the House of Representatives this Friday morning when the new taxation legislation is introduced, the Briceño PUP will have to oppose it. In the House, that Briceño PUP includes the two Deputy Leaders to whom Partridge Street has family ties – Lake I’s Cordel Hyde and Albert’s Mark Espat.

We have heard some of the technical and financial arguments that Mr. Barrow’s Ashcroft legislation is a bad idea, and the arguments may be pretty good. But we don’t think Mr. Barrow has any choice. He has been “punked” by Market Square, and he must respond. To our mind, this response is as good as any.

The issue, to repeat, is a divisive one for Partridge Street. Cordel Hyde and Mark Espat have to support their Party Leader in opposition to the Barrow bill. This newspaper, freely and instinctively, supports the Hon. Prime Minister on this matter.

It is for sure the Prime Minister will pass his bill. What Ashcroft has already begun to do, propaganda wise, is to use the increased taxes as an excuse to raise rates, which we all know should have been lower than they are, and then blame the Belizean Leader for the raises. In other words, Lord Ashcroft will use his political and media clout to turn the tables on Mr. Barrow.

You know, things could unravel quickly on the ground for the Prime Minister if he continues on his present course. In the aftermath of the Zenaida Moya convention victory in early October, we gave Mr. Barrow some advice. We now upgrade the advice to a warning. You can’t do without Michael Finnegan, Mr. Barrow. He was always your street credibility. When your law firm was depositing all those Belize Bank checks and retainers for all those years, you were being compromised, in your future incarnation, without knowing it. We speak as a newspaper which supports you in the taxation against Buckingham Palace. For real.