REPORT #501 June 2002

Produced by the Belize Development Trust

Quote from the Publisher, Evan Hyde of the Amandala newspaper in Belize, of June 15th., 2002.

He said; "During the peak of his power in the 1960's and 1970's, George Price was probably the most VICIOUS and VICTIMIZING POLITICIAN in the history of Belizean party politics."

From my own experiences, AMEN to that viewpoint! Still, one has to give credit to former First Minister, then Prime Minister, George Price for being the Father of Independence. But those twenty years of self government and then Independence were roughshod years, where political victimization was the rule and openly and sometimes covertly carried out. The offices of government and different departments were used to bully, intimidate and exile any opposition. No free debate was allowed. Government dishonesty was the norm, not the rule, under Price's PUP.

By contrast, when the UDP first got into power, they tackled the subject of polarizing the society and population of Belize into two warring political party camps. Their reign for five years was notable by the restraint and control they kept on their Cabinet Ministers in attempting to give a fair government to ALL BELIZEANS irregardless of viewpoint and political persuasion.

The subsequent PUP election followed the new effort to allow free debate on political policies and issues and restraint was in order. With a few exceptions by government spokesperson Norris Hall, mostly acting as a FRONT for the Finance and Economics section. But attention was called to the trickle down effects of such actions by high up government power brokers and how lower echelon party adherents would and often did run wild with perceived permissiveness and victimization published in the public media and the higher PUP acted quickly to curb the excesses.

Unfortunately, the PUP Elected Representative Patty Arceo is a loose cannon this term of office. Unless the PUP can curb her actions and loose tongue, political victimization could very well become a rallying cry and good point in the UDP debates ahead for the coming election? Already issues have arisen for which there seems no logical, or rational explanation in fair governance. In that my very own daughter has raised the question of some people being allowed to pay off lot leases in defiance of the law. ( Ministers discretion again? ) And the suggested political victimization for the construction of a pier on the north island of Caye Caulker. There have been other complaints. Notably by the San Pedro Sun newspaper on Ambergris Caye, who were threatened and intimidated by our political representative, they said in an article. The PUP apparently have a problem with their elected member Patty Arceo. They better fix it, before it blows up in their election faces.

Sad to say otherwise, Patty Arceo is apparently a very hard working representative. Her work in the two hurricanes was admired from both sides of the aisle and by the general public in her area. Rumors have been afloat for the past year and a half, that the strains of political office have turned Patty into an alcoholic. It those rumors are true, it is a very sad state of affairs for an otherwise well intentioned person. You cannot reason with alcoholics; which may be her prepondency to turn to political threats and ideas of victimization of people, who have different viewpoints on how government should work? Be that as it may, whatever the truth of the matter might be, Patty is no longer an asset to the PUP and very much becoming a liability. Thats a shame, because she really cared about her constituency in the beginning years and did loads of hard work.

Will the UDP use the transgressions of Patty Arceo as ammunition in the coming election debates? Will the PUP pull Party Arceo into line? Personally, I would like to see any political injustices fixed and the matter dropped by both parties as any issue in the coming campaign, in respect of the good works Patty did during both Hurricanes.

What I really enjoyed recently in this pre-election banter, was Opposition Leader, Dean Barrow's spirited attack on the PUP about the finances and International Foreign Debt. What was even more delightful was the last issue of the Belize Times, the PUP political rag in which a reposte article was given, that made very good points indeed. It will take some thinking to point out the discrepancies; but judging from the quality of the PUP counter attack, it looks to be that the public generally are going to have to decide at the ballot box; because it is doubtful if any FACTS are going to be forthcoming to support the approaches of either side on this issue. I certainly loved the quality of this debate that did not get into any character assassination and focused on the issues.

The Belize Development Trust of course, will call them as we see them! It has been a refreshing ten years in which we ourselves have lambasted both political parties on issues without let up. An unthinkable situation for anyone with experience of the twenty years under the PUP dictator George Price. Despite the occasional slip into authoritarianism, by the odd irrate Cabinet Minister since those old days, the behavior of both parties has been impeccable to the Belize Development Trust critiques. Considering we have given both leaderships their turn on the hot seat, the fact that we have not been attacked, speaks highly of the maturity being reached in political development. That makes the slip into political victimization and intimidation by area representative Patty Arceo all the more disappointing. I do hope the PUP can fix it? We certainly do not want to see polarization of Belizean society into two camps of haves and have nots, once again. Much less the foundations of a civil war, which in today's environment would likely occur.

In retrospect, since old Prime Minister Esquivel set the tone and current Prime Minister Said Musa followed up, Belizean politics has matured greatly. Let's not screw it up again!

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