By Wellington C. Ramos
When PUP representative Ivan Ramos resigned his seat from the House of Representative, their leader Francis Fonseca and the members of the People's United Party were caught off guard. Why? Because they looked at Ivan Ramos as a faithful, loyal and dedicated PUP who will continue to abide by their instructions. Little did they realize that Ivan Ramos also has families and supporters who were watching the way the People's United Party was disrespecting him over the years. They were telling him: "Ivan you need to do something about how these people from Belize City are disrespecting you, your family and supporters.”
This disrespect was displayed when they asked him to come to Belize at their press conference to give our people and the country the impression that he was in support of having Anthony Sabal replace him. I watched that fiasco press conference and so did many other Belizeans and it was clear to me from what Ivan Ramos said that he was not happy with his party for conducting a political coup against him.
Most of the people who he thought were his friends for years, he found them to be his frienemies. He went back home and then said, they think I am a fool, I will teach them a lesson. His resignation was a lesson that they were not prepared to take in Dangriga Politics-101.
Now, they were so shocked and appalled that they did not know what to do. One of them suggested let us have an emergency meeting to deal with this situation. At the meeting they said let us decide what our options are to deal with this situation at hand. These were the options that they came up with:
1. To boycott the election and say that they were not given enough time to prepare for it. That option was rejected by their members outside of Belize City headquarters.
2. After they came up with a foolish option, they wanted to save face so they said that they will go to Dangriga and do a fact finding mission on the ground. This was more a damage control / save face repair mission. In Dangriga their people told them to contest this election because giving up will hurt their chances in future elections. Dangriga people were already angry with them for the mistreatment of their representative. When they left Dangriga they were convinced that they have to contest this election but they do not know how they are going to win it.
3. One of them said, "We can do a national campaign by bringing all the PUPs that can volunteer from the other districts to come and help us campaign like we did in Cayo Northeast when our PUP candidate Richard Richardson ran against the UDP candidate Omar Figueroa." One said, “But if we do that the UDP will do the same thing and they have more money and supporters and their candidate will win like what happened in Cayo." The PUP then said to that person: "Well that is the only option we have left." Now, the last option has been agreed upon and how will it pay off.
The problem lies with the way they treated their PUP representative Ivan Ramos and it is not just going to go away easily. One of the main reasons why Dangriga representatives haven't been able to do anything for their people over the years, is because whenever their representatives get elected and advocate on their people's behalf, the party bosses undermine them or remove them from power. Then they go behind the representative’s back and tell the people that their representative is not asking for anything for them and some people begin to accept and believe this big lie.
Poverty is a big problem in Dangriga and only jobs can solve Dangriga people's problems. Dangriga is worse off now than when I was growing up in the 1960s as a child. People use to work at the Commerce Bight Pier, which the PUP sold and closed for years now. Middlesex, Alta Vista and Pomona used to have jobs for people, not only from Dangriga but Cayo, Belize City and the other districts. In those days on a Saturday, when you walked on St Vincent and Commerce Streets, they were packed with people shopping for goods.
We still have the citrus and banana industries but the workers are mostly from Guatemala. When they get paid, the company provides them with buses to go home for the weekend with all their money. They are already taking the jobs, then they take out the money back to their country as well. The reason given is that those Dangriga people are lazy. I refuse to accept this because I know the truth about my people. We use to get up out of our beds at around 4:00 am early in the mornings to go to farm then go to school afterwards for 8:00 am. If it was mango season we reaped the mangoes and then one of the family members would go to Belize City and sell the mangoes. When the mosquitoes attacked us it was like an army of them.
Every Dangriga family owned land to do farming but they will not go back to the farms to do slash and burn farming. The government should re-equip the Agriculture Department with the machines to help our young people clear their lands to do farming again. They should be given the opportunity to become shareholders in the citrus and banana industries like the families who have monopolized these industries for the past decades.
Our people are not being given the financing and the tools we need to utilize our lands and take advantage to improve our economic situation. This is the reason why we have moved from being the most independent people to the most dependent. Garifuna people are resilient and can become the people they were years ago but they must demand these things from their government.
Dangriga people are tired of voting and being promised false hopes, dreams and promises that never materialized and they are very angry now. I suggest to these two political parties not to come to Dangriga with a few dollars just to get political power and leave us dependent because our people are disgusted with this type of politics as usual.