REPORT #415 August 2001

Produced by the Belize Development Trust

The Honduras Consul in Miami has a plea out for food supplies for his country. Spanish television is showing photographs of the effects of the drought in Honduras and the loss of crops this year. As 80 % of the population of Honduras are subsistance food farmers, the drought is playing havoc.

Unfortunately, a country like Honduras is an autocratic centralized one; which means elected officials operate on greed and self interest. As the donations after Hurricane Mitch and previous disasters has shown in Honduras, there is no government distribution system. There is non in Belize either. In Honduras, being under the Latin style, the military actually own the country of Honduras, despite the so-called democratic elections. Always the military and bureaucrats have stolen, or wasted donated supplies. Unless there is a charity you know to distribute donations, it is not possible to help Honduras.

The same fault exists in most of Latin America, including places like Peru, and Belize. You cannot get government service to the public. The centralized government politics and bureaucracy is a parasitic system, riding the backs of the public masses without any corresponding responsibility to supply services to those same citizens.

In Belize, the shootout at the Orange Walk toll bridge with the buses yesterday, or day before, was the Cabinet Minister of Transportion's fault. The situation should never have arisen. This is a big fault in centralized cabinet minister run systems. If the Police Inspector locally had been an independent elected official, he could have and should have been able to arrest the Minister of Transportation for dereliction of duty. If there had been a judge who sits for Preliminary Hearings, the Minister under arrest could have pleaded Guilty, or not guilty. In a not guilty plea, he would have been sent to jail, or admitted to bail, until a jury court trial. But you cannot do that, when you have a monarchist centralist police system based on national control under the same cabinet ministers, a political party controlled police system nationwide.

The small village bus operators should have been able to get their license, or permit for the $28 or whatever the government fee was, from the village council clerk. This is what we mean by bringing the services of government to the villages, just like they have in the port town of Belize City. The Belize system of government, because it is centralized and under ministerial control, does not work. The question of whether buses were in compliance with regulations are a separate issue and could be resolved by police inspections at the village level also. Because the bus owners/drivers could not get their permits from a centralized ministry ( for whatever reasons ), just by going in and paying a fee, they were in a Cache 22 situation. The police were in the same situation when the buses did not have a permit and were stopped. If the owner/drivers had made an honest effort to pay their permits at the village council clerk's office and were not able to get same, for whatever reasons, then it behooved the local police to check by radio, or make a judgement call with their ELECTED POLICE Inspector for the district area effected. Obviously, if the local Inspector knew the circumstances, or the police officers knew the circumstances, they would have waived the problem and given a written warning ticket, to get the permit. A grace period would have been in order at the discretion of the traffic police officer.

However, the refusal by the Cabinet Minister, on the spot, under the centralized operated system at the confrontation at the Orange Walk bridge with the bus operators and irate public customers, was obviously dereliction of duty and a criminal act on the part of the Minister of Transportation. He should be held accountable and responsible in a jury trial for the performance of his ministry under the centralized system. The government should pay all costs for damage by bullets to the buses and any subsequent injuries inflicted on the protesting public. This will never happen of course, and a political party bigwig Cabinet Minister will not go to a jury trial. If there had been, or was a separation of powers, between the police and politics, the local police could have arrested the cabinet minister for not performing his public duties, arraigned him before a judge for a preliminary hearing; where the Minister could plead guilty, or not guilty and business go on as usual. With a guilty plea, the Minister would have been fined and order to issue the bus permit, or ordered his underlings to issue the permit from the Village Clerk's office. If he had pleaded not guilty, then the issue would be resolved by a jury of citizens in a court trial. The police could not protect the public interest, because their control falls under the same Cabinet Ministery system as the member minister for transportation. The Cabinet Minister's are ultimate dictators. In a real democracy, injured parties in this fiasco would be able to sue the Minister directly for damages.

The prima donna ego trip, of the Minister of Transportation for the failure of either himself, or his underlings to issue the permits; when the nasty situation at the Orange Walk bridge arose, was his responsibility alone under the centralized party controlled autocractic dictatorial system. It was compounded, because under the same system there is no separation of powers and the police could not arrest him for dereliction of duty, as they also were under the jurisdiction of him and his friends in the centralized dictatorial political party Cabinet. It got out of hand with bullets flying! This type of situation has arisen over different issues many times over the last 40 years in Belize. It will keep arising until we change the Belize Constitution to a more equitable operating system.

The failure of the Belize Constitutional framework to provide a method of supplying government service to the rural villages throughout the country and with checks and balances to ensure accountability is a serious fault in Belize. The same could be said of Peru, Guatemala and Honduras and many other Latin countries. The systems do not work when centralized and political party controlled. There is more to a democracy than a peaceful elected change of political party RULERS (party dictators).

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