REPORT #173 Feb 2000

Produced by the Belize Development Trust

The Belize Reform Commission deserves some study by scholars for the output that they arrived at. I am sure there would be some serious effects considered, when the commission was not composed of people from all the districts.

Like most groups, the commission apparently reflects the culture, society and attitudes of the academic intelligentsia of the old colonial capital of Belize the port town from which it came. No one can say the port town represents Belize, but they do and very often too.

I'm sure if the Commission had been made up of Cooperative fisherman from Caye Caulker and San Pedro, that Commission would have had different results and also reflected the biases of a less educated, but more pragmatic source group for commission members.

By the same token, it would have been interesting to see the Commission results from a Commission made up of Cane Farmer Association members from the north of Belize.

One can only speculate what a Reform Commission would have come up with from a Commission composed of members exclusively from the Toledo District Mayan villages. With their communal heritage and the idea that land is a commonly owned product, it would be interesting.

There was a certain amount of arrogance came through in the Political Commissions Reform Report. Undoubtedly, literate, vocal, articulate, well academically scholastic educated folks from a predominantly service centered government employed service centered town have their own biases, which showed. They certainly were not mine, but then I come from the islands along the barrier reef.

There was apparent, that most rural people on their brief surveys knew too little about the Constitution in the other Districts. A lot of them were semi-literate also. There is a misconception by academic educated types that this makes them superior. Not so! It makes them faster dealing with legalese language and written things like the Constitution. More articulate. But you would be surprised what a meeting of 100 members of Mayan villages would come up with in questions and opinions, if the Constitution would be read for them and explained what the legalese meant in everyday practical effects. The discussions of course might have taken several years this way, to get consensus and find a report for presentation. The results I am sure would reflect their views, biases and culture. Completely at odds with this Reform Commission results from one only port town.

We now know what the port Belize City and old colonial capital viewpoints are on Political Reform Commission. These views are certainly not mine, nor do I intend to be bound by them. Though I am sure that the ruling party, controlled by these same townies will use the report as a big stick, to keep the status quo as much as possible.

From my viewpoint, there was no vision expressed. No patriotism! No concept of what a nation is and should be, other than a bunch of rural population and agricultural five outside districts to be exploited by townies. I was disappointed, but not surprised considering the limited composition of the commission.

The result of course will have to be challenged in the political arena in the formation of a new political party by young people of today, if they want to build a nation. It is going to have to be a war for equality for the districts, a debate to capture the minds and hearts of the voters, a legal struggle perhaps to change the electoral divisions and method of voting to get geographic representation into the Constitution.

I came away from the report, after skimming through it, with the idea I had been transported back in time 200 years, to the heyday of logwood cutters and those exploiters from Scotland and England who lived in the old colonial capital and only viewed Belize and the rural districts as places to sell merchant imported goods to and take a commission bite out of any exports, forced to go through that town.

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