A four person delegation from the forgotten, neglected Toledo District of Belize with the smallest population, travelled all the way to the old colonial capital of Belize to make an impassioned plea for attention and complaining of National government neglect.
When one considers this trek to the capital of the Belize District, one of six districts in Belize and one of 11 towns and 400 to 500 villages nationwide, the discrepancies between the 'have's', of the old colonial capital and the 'have-not's' of the Toledo District are really astounding.
The comparisons have to be done with the understanding that the earning capacity of a person in the Toledo hills is far less than that of someone in the old colonial capital of Belize City, half way up the coast. The week's travel time, would be the same, if citizens of the old capital at the port had to travel to Ottawa, to present their claims for attention to a Belize absentee government far away. The cost likewise. It is as if, a delegation of four persons from Belize City had to travel at their own expense to Ottawa, Canada to make a complaint of neglect by their government in Belmopan. The proportion of money and earning power and savings necessary to make this trip by the Toledo Delegation to Belize City, would be equivalent to four persons from Belize City travelling to Ottawa, Canada, expressed as a percentage of annual income.
Considered in this light, the financial sacrifice of Mr. Reyes Chun, Chairman of the Toledo Eco-tourism Association, Mr. Candido Coh of San Jose Village, Mr. Martin Enriques a one-legged World War II veteran and community development worker, along with Mrs. Lila Vernon a member of the Punta Gorda Conservation Committee should be taken with the utmost gravity. These people are sacrificing a great deal as citizens of Belize, by travelling to the area of Belize that controls the nation politically; rather than in a democracy, which would take the government to the people in Toledo.
The list of complaints and requests for help are covered in a Reporter newspaper article of Sunday, January 23, 2000. This can be found on-line with the internet.
Mrs. Lila Vernon re-iterated the cry, heard all around the Americas and Africa. "We are losing our youths" she said. The reason of course is a misguided policy of colonial government that de-facto concentrates resources in one old colonial capital town, creating a shantytown megapolis in one district.
Belize is now on it's second generation of political party "leaders" since colonial days. But there has been a deteriotation in quality. No innovation, imagination or other "leadership qualities" have showed themselves in devising a new paradigm of government, than that inheritance of the old colonial power. Still the nation of Belize and the six districts are dominated by a clique of academically trained intellectuals from the old colonial capital, Belize City, half way along the coast line, through colonial fixed electoral systems and political party machines that deny an equal voice to the other districts comprising the country. Belize is still treated like a colonial plantation, reminiscent of Somoza running Nicaraqua in recent decades. Nor does there seem any hope for aspiring youngsters. A recent Political Reform Commission comprised of these same intellectuals from this political center, re-confirmed the status quo in governing and only recommended slight changes and improvements to the existing failing colonial model. All suggestions from the other districts to change the paradigm of governing were re-buffed in arrogant jingoistic academic jargon.
Facing this second generation of 'leaders' is the need to find a new paradigm of government. One that brings the services and responsibilities of government to every village in the nation, no matter how remote. In the current model, the status quo intellectuals cry "the lack of money"! But this is ineptitude based on lethargy, apathy, and lack of patriotic fervor. Lack of imagination, innovation and the willingness to try something new, in the name of democracy, providing service to citizens equally and nation building. They are simply small town provincial bumpkins content in their privileges. Lack of money, is an excuse and not even a viable one. A different paradigm of governing would see that the money is more than adequate. There may even be a surplus if the organization of government was done differently, on the USA States and local county models.
The only future for the youths of Toledo, is migration to the port Belize City. The only future for the youths of Belize City is immigration abroad through the backdoor of Tijuana, Mexico to the USA and Canada. The delegation of Toledo are not going to receive the cooperation they seek. They didn't in past years and it is not going to happen this year either. Maybe not even in this century. My sympathies go out to them in their expectations.