REPORT #338 July 2000

Produced by the Belize Development Trust

While townies of the one port town, Belize City, where political control of the cabinet positions lie and the spending of the treasury; the cry from this politically well placed town for more money to fix their current track and field stadium, causes other district towns protest political discrimination in tax fund spending!

The port of Belize City has always had track and field stadiums since colonial days of long ago. Nowadays, they have more different sports facilities both private and public than the rest of the towns in the country combined together. Yet recent articles in their media cry for more national tax money to fix up what they have. Again? It seems every election, irregardless of which party gets in power, the port town of Belize City get national tax dollars to spend on their desires, while other towns in the nation of Belize are ignored and do without. Not much one can say about such selfish NATION BUILDING. (Hah!) Many towns and villages of the nation of Belize, have no tax paid sports facilities at all! Belize City takes it all!

See below, one lament below, from Seine Bight town at the political discrimination of the home of the main political party conrolling gang members.

This posting sent to the Bz-Culture Mailing List from Godsman Ellis There is great jubilation in Seine Bight Village after capturing the 2000 national championships in volleyball, basketball and softball.

The small village from the south has surprised everyone, winning over the larger and more prominent villages and towns. Similarly we view it as a great achievement that the 2000 national football champions, Sagitun, come from the South.

Is it not a mindset, though, that we should react in this manner? Would the reaction have been the same if these champions were from the west or the north? And how does the Belize City population react when champions are from the out districts? Which districts are out districts? Those other than Belize, of course. It is a prejudicial attitude in us, which results in city folk looking down on town folk and town folk looking down on villagers.

Today we see some of the consequences of this viewpoint and we take the South as a case in point. Recent surveys show that this region remains the poorest (economically) in the nation despite the millions of dollars that have gone into the banana, citrus and recently the shrimp industries.

These industries, we must note are not grass rooted and hence not people centred. Their very orientation in technology, production and marketing are alien to the people in the South.

The achievements of Seine Bight and Sagitun indicate a potential for human resource development. It can be recalled that Seine Bight was a resource for some of the finest teachers Belize has produced. Ask the old timers in the villages of Patchacan, Progreso, Rancho, Bullet Tree Falls, Crique Sarco. It may not have occurred to the authorities to establish a teacher training school in the area. The farmers of Toledo once produced most of the rice for the entire country using their own seeds, which required no artificial fertilizers and pesticides. It never occurred to the authorities to carry out research on the native cultivars and to try and improve on the existing production system.

On the other hand, over the years, the talented youths were forced to leave (for Belize City) to continue their training and education, which resulted in an alienation from their roots; new varieties of plants and planting systems were introduced; displaced farmers left for the citrus, banana and lumber industries. The South was in for an economic and cultural destabilization.

Now, the big question is, how can this trend be reversed. How can the South be once again self-sustaining? Farmers are now pawns to the recommended agricultural practices, and these carry their packages of equipment, formulas and marketing. The Maya have not regained control of their forest resources. For the Garifuna trawler fishing has eliminated `drop-line' fishing. He is now encouraged to learn sport fishing for the tourist.

This industry he sees blooming in his own backyard but he does not own it. The "developers" come from outside, and at best he is employed by them, not in using the skills he learned from his elders, rather he must now learn customer service or to perform banana packing shed activities.

Indeed, the village of Seine Bight deserves our congratulations. The success of the teams would not have been possible without village support and encouragement. Now that people have made the spotlight, I ask, would the big sports sponsors be willing to back these teams? How about scholarship awards? Good sporting facilities? What agency in Government will now seize the moment to look at generating economic activities in the community? Or what private enterprise will step up and demonstrate its social responsibility? The villagers have demonstrated that they have the capacity to succeed if only they are given the opportunity and resources.

Godsman Ellis

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