Peter, your statements demonstrate a lack of understanding of what life is like for ordinary people on the cayes (or for that matter, anywhere in Belize). Many of the statements you make that do not make economic sense and are not factually supportable:
For one thing, you are ASSUMING that the losses that people suffered are covered by insurance. That is an erroneous assumption for the following reasons:
1. Many people who own small homes do not have homeowners' insurance at all. The poorer someone is, the less likely they are to carry insurance. When you are living at a paycheck to paycheck level, insurance is considered a "luxury;" food and medicine and the phone bill, and the electric bill, and school fees for your children take precedence. Many of these people are running little businesses out of their homes.
2. Many people who have small businesses do not have insurance. For example: While the big dive operations undoubtedly insure their boat, many of the boat operators on Ambergris Caye (and presumably, also on Caye Caulker,) are young men with growing families who after many years of working for others, were able to purchase their own boats. I know this for a fact, since I know some of these young men personally. Many of these people do not carry insurance on their boats. Perhaps you are unaware that most homeowners and business owners policies carry a 10% deductible. As another example, I doubt if many of the women who have food stands on Barrier Reef Drive have business insurance to cover their equipment. While replacing this equipment might seem insigificant to you, I can assure you it is not nsignificant to them. Many women supplement their families' income by cooking food at home and selling it around town; a substantial portion of these women live on the lagoon side and suffered the most severe property damage. They have no electricity; many of them no longer have a home at all. How can they continue to cook?
Many small grocery type operators (fruit stands, etc.) are likely to be uninsured.
Thus, for many people, the supplies and equipment that you believe should be subject to customs duty, are vitally necessary for their everyday lives.
As to "cheating the government of Belize," you are assuming that the GOB was COUNTING on a hurricane, massive losses, relief donations, and rebuilding and refurnishing supplies to be taxed for import duties as a way of funding the country's budget; and that not imposing such taxes will deprive the GOB of funds they were counting on. Please take a moment to think about that assumption. It is plainly ridiculous. In fact, the GOB would receive a WINDFALL if all these items were subject to duty -- a WINDFALL at the direct expense of those least able to bear the cost.
I don't know anything about you, and will attempt to resist the impulse to speculate on why you appear to harbor such resentment, perhaps even hate, towards so many categories of people. You might consider developing a bit more empathy and putting yourself in the shoes of those who are hungry, have no place to sleep, wet, no services, no medicine, no diapers, no refrigeration and NO MONEY, and question the morality of delaying relief to them unless a tax is first paid. You are lucky indeed not to be in their shoes. But perhaps, you might not be so lucky next time.
But I will tell you that the manner in which you present your arguments is, to put it charitably.....ineffective.
Susan Guberman-Garcia, Attorney at Law. Phone: 510-792-2639
Fax/Voicemail:: 510-405-2016 Email: email@example.com