REPORT #377 September 2000

Produced by the Belize Development Trust

By Ray Auxillou

There is one argument in Belize City presented by the newspapers of that local town and vocal population, that shows the ignorance and misconceptions of the townies debating the issues of political reform.

What came to my notice, was the comment by a media commentator, that there were two groups basically in the port town. The first group says the country and rural people are not ready for democracy, autonomy, self rule, they need educating. The second smaller group argues that you have to just go ahead.

I would like to point out as a Founding Father of the Northern Fisherman's Cooperative that these two arguments are basically the same as the arguments we were given by the government of the day and the citizens of that port town Belize City who control national politics some 35 years ago.

We were told that fishermen could not cooperate. By the Director of Cooperatives and by politicians running the government. We were told that fishermen were uneducated ( too true at the time!), that we fought, drank, womanized and were ignorant people. All true comments at the time and maybe not so different today either. But what has that to do with anything? Do we have to know arithmetic to handle millions of dollars? No! We do not, those that don't know arithmetic quickly learn how by being self taught through necessity. It's not a big thing. You should have watched the painful self education process of Dolo Marin of Caye Caulker back 35 years ago. Then see him critique a Cooperative balance sheet of 30 million dollars today.

What we found out, lo these 35 years or so ago, was that government and democracy, be it by a cooperative, cane farmers association, or district governments and Village Council Associations is a LEARNED PROCESS.

I observed it with a critical and philosophers eye over the years and came to the conclusion that the democratic process takes the ignorant, the uneducated, the poor blighted poverty masses about 13 years as a group to learn. Indeed, there is no academic education that will teach it. No school certificate, or degree. It is a process of self discovery, of what works and what does not work. At times it can be expensive learning, but those hard expensive lessons are necessary to the process.

So, in answer to those of the port Belize City that bring up the cry once again, justifying their existance and why they should run the political nation and finances of Belize, let me just point out some Belizean History. Democracy is learned by doing and making mistakes. There is no other way of learning it. No reading, or academic education will teach it. A civilian population of voters must DO IT themselves?

Please don't show your bigoted ignorance by trotting out that worn out old argument, that the rural masses, because they are uneducated cannot govern themselves. Belizean history shows YOU, to be the educated ignorant one!

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