REPORT #133 Nov 1999

Produced by the Belize Development Trust

Wendy had brought me up a bunch of Amandala and Times newspapers to supplement the only one I get in the mail, a complimentary copy of the Reporter. Most of my comments are based on articles out of the Reporter. It was interesting to read the other newspapers in the actual paper format, versus the occasional time I look at them on-line. The on-line versions skip a lot of the nitty gritty. I found this to be true when reading the Amandala and the Times.

It was very interesting though to read of things, that were never published in the Reporter. All in all, one gets the general impression, that the Chalillo Dam project has been good for the country of Belize in opening up diverse opinions and the use of democratic debate on public policy issues.

On the downside has been various attempts by PUP politicians to muzzle the freedom of the press, individuals with contrary opinions and the usual gamut of intimidation, misintrepretations and victimization going on, when you buck the powers of the PUP in Belmopan.

In a general sense, one gets the picture of a healthy society more concerned about the present and the future than it has ever been before. There is also a hunger apparently from the general public for more ability to input and effect policy making decisions, which are currently autocratic in nature. The PUP of course have a number of individuals and civil servants on the payroll, that want to turn the clock back, to the day when they ruled unchallenged, and even if you did challenge them, you knew it was going to cost you in victimization and intimidation. Some of these have been known to lament in public about the opposing opinions being debated are not allowing the "due process" to be followed. This simply emphasizes the huge gap, between new immigrants and new citizens accustomed to the free and easy debating style of more open democratic processes and the old guard of entrenched politicians that dominate and control the autocratic elected dictatorial colonial governing system. They have trouble adjusting to the new way of doing things. This is particularly difficult as before in past decades, opposition on policy issues was not tolerated at all. Even so, nowadays, the entrenched groups of the old style still have the machinery to make life difficult for people and organizations that oppose different policy decisions made in often a secret and hasty, autocratic manner, of questionable worth.

The subject and mention of "due process" by Belmopan Wallah's, simply ignores, or conveniently sidesteps the fact that the colonial governing system does not have any real "due process", it is simply a euphinism for autocratic dictatorial policy making control. The "due process" is simply autocratic political party dictatorship in the colonial style, with no regard for the public, debate, democracy, or consensus and any checks and balances that real democracy has in it's machinery organization. "Due process" comments from Belmopan and the PUP, simply mean that they want to be the new native colonial style masters and all the rest, to be exploited residents of the new colony under their control. We don't have any real due process in Belize, yet! The next election maybe?

Still, from reading the other newspapers, one can see that despite the old guard attempting to control the public opinion on policy issues, there is generally a swelling tide of public opinion who are now challenging the old ways of doing things and discussing everything under the sun. The Chalillo Dam policy issue has been very healthy for the democratic learning processes in Belize. Now, if we can change the structure of governing and spread the policy making process out to the districts equally and stick in some vetoes, and other checks and balances, we might one day, really have a real democracy and wealthy successful nation.

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