The Official 21st.
Official Ceremonies for Independence day were held in Belmopan this year. Channel 7 aired it live from the capital and here are a few highlights:
Andrea Polanco, Reporting
The usual ceremony and sense of occasion attended Tuesday morning's official ceremony in Belmopan.
And while there was pomp and pageantry there was also politics as the leader of the opposition aimed a broadside at the Prime Minister:
Hon. John Briceno, Leader of the Opposition
"Today we are shackled by an economic recession whose untrammelled effect is being felt in every settlement, village, town and city in our Jewel. Every day, businesses are forced to fold and more Belizeans continue to lose jobs. Our very infrastructure is breaking up before our eyes. Too many of our children are out of school and our youth have little hope.
Rampant crime and violence, hatred and fear, stalk our beloved land, causing us to live as prisoners in our own homes.
Never before in the history of our country have we been forced to mourn so grievously and so often. Every day there is news of more tragedy. 97 Belizeans have been murdered already this year, with the grim certainty of yet more to come. We were asked to imagine the possibilities, and this is the reality: telephone, water and light bills have NOT gone down. The cost of living continues to rise unabated. Gas prices are skyrocketing. More taxes have been levied on already burdened Belizeans. Everywhere across the Jewel, there is fear and trepidation and even despair. Many families survive on noodles, and steak is beyond the reach of most."
And along that line, in his speech Prime Minister Barrow while introducing social initiatives for tough times bristled at the political gamesmanship:
Dean Barrow, Prime Minister
"Everyone has to get involve and there is no time for business as usual or worse politics as usual and therefore wish to repeat in simple terms my invitation to the leader of the opposition stop cursing the darkness and help us light a candle. The governments food subsidy pilot project for Southside Belize City starts in the next 2 weeks. We will be working in
partnership with the salvation army whom we have contracted to administer the program to ensure both efficiency and fair play people living at the margins will be able on a continuing basis to purchase from 2 distribution centers on Cemetery Road and Mahogany Street a basket of basic food items at half the price."
And for the PM on this Independence Day, there was no greater assertion of nationhood than the acquisition of BTL one year ago - as it is now being readied for a public share offering:
Dean Barrow, Prime Minister
"There is no brighter example for such re-vivification in recent times than the nationalization of Telemedia and today on this anniversary of our Independence the wheel is coming full circle for making my final announcement I wish to tell you that the prospectus is ready and that the sale of shares to the Belizean public will commence on October 15th 2010. BTL will now reduce the price of their internet service by providing all customers with twice the bandwidth at the same cost. In the case of schools this expanded bandwidth will of course continue to be absolutely free."
And after the sharing out of sugar plums - the official audience got a chance to loosen up with lively cultural entertainment.
The Belmopan parade followed after that event - it was massive and we'll show you a few clips as we close off tonight's news…