REPORT #504 June 2002

Produced by the Belize Development Trust

There have been good and bad things this term of the PUP legacy. The bad side was a wrong approach to growth economics and thus the increased national foreign debt.

On the good side, this PUP administration probably have done something that tops the lists of accomplishments over the last 40 years. That was the creation of NEMO. The actual creation of NEMO was not that big a deal by itself. Different governments in Belize are always creating things, of which most die a slow death for non-performance. But NEMO was different in a very big way!

Third world countries like Central American countries are notorious about not being able to look after themselves after natural disasters. I remember vividly the mess with the British and USA military after Hurricane Hattie in 1961 under British Governor Thornley. There haven't been much opportunity to practice since then. The idiot Belize City crowd ignored the effects of Hurricane Fifi on the Cayes and just shrugged their shoulders. But two rapid disasters this PUP term as in Hurricanes Keith and Iris have really turned things around. First came the establishment of NEMO, which could have gone either way for lack of finance and support on the local political scene. But strangely enough that usual bad course did not happen.

What happened was that the PUP actually made NEMO work! While many people made it work, mostly salaried civil servants; it was PM Said Musa, Finance wheeler dealer Ralph Fonseca and our disreputable Patty Arceo that actually really got the whole NEMO operation off the ground and made it a success.

Said Musa our PM of course for the leadership. Ralph Fonseca for finding and transferring the money from other priorities to deal with the local natural disasters on an immediate pay as you go basis and we will figure out the money later attitude and Patty Arceo of course for being Johnny on the spot and doing the donkey work on the ground.

Looking back over 40 years, I can find no finer thing that any government in Belize has accomplished! Not roads, schools, even Price's independence which was largely a despotic dictator's proclamation and rule.

One has to put the performance of NEMO and Belize and this PUP government into context; which means the corruption prevalent in Central American and Caribbean countries. Which mostly prevent local country governments from looking after their people in natural disasters. Yet in Belize, not only did Said Musa the PM make NEMO work, but he got Ralph Fonseca to actually spend the money from other allocated revenues in their long list of priorities that were pressing in importance with too little funds. They spent it, on an attitude of an emergency and we will figure out how to pay for it later attitude. This of course, is what made Belize stand out from every place else in the world, other than rich industrialized countries. They took money that we could not afford and it went directly into solving the emergency of the natural disaster immediately. Fast recoveries and no outside help needed. The British Fleet when it arrived 72 hours later, found nothing to do. The USA also! It had already been done on quick reaction force basis, even better than FEMA in the USA, an equivalent agency.

One has to think in terms of lack of resources, lack of money in comparison to the USA to appreciate the magnificent job the PUP government this term did. They did better in Hurricane Keith than the Hurricane Iris disaster, but still the response in Iris was adequate considering by then, the lack of money available.

If you consider the Miami Dade Community College here in Dade County, Florida has a bigger budget than the whole country of Belize revenues on a per annum basis, you can more put it into perspective. What the PUP have done with the NEMO disaster agency in Belize stands out as the crowning glory of over 40 years for selfless service and a proud sense of accomplishment of national self reliance without the intervention of the outside world. Yup! I would put the NEMO performance in two hurricanes at the top of forty years of government work in Belize. Belizeans should be proud! Belize broke the Third World mold on this one and joined the industrialized nations for competence.

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