REPORT #647 June 2003

Produced by Ray Auxillou

There are those who think better politics and smaller government in Belize, would make for a healthier economic environment and superior living standard. I confess, to having belonged to that group of philosphers myself from time to time. But after 20 years and 4 government changes between the PUP and the UDP political parties run by lawyers in the port town of Belize City, one has to look at the QUALITY OF LIFE issues in the country of Belize and decide which is actually better? The choice is economic activity and financial prosperity, or living in a place that is mostly wilderness, full of sports and enjoyment activities supplied by nature, with a limited population.

It is true, the GREED of the port town mafia crowd of wanna be politicians and merchant class hold back political development; which in turn holds back the nation from true world class business competition and subsequent economic development. After giving most of my life to educate and try to topple the arbitrary and personal despotism under which commerce has been frustrated and languished; I confess to being a complete failure in trying to change the political and thus the economic model of this old British colony. Stagnation under the British Parliamentary system is the rule, the economic mediocricity that results due to greed and Cabinet Minister party despotism, coupled with showering pyschophants and party hacks with government jobs, the ruination of any chance of steady economic progress.

Yet in my retirement years, I look forward to just that simpleness and mediocricity, as I build my house in the Cayo District. Being a campesino in an agricultural/tourist valley town is attractive for all those reasons at which I failed to improve things. The simple life, the low cost of living, the small country town feel and social activities are; what make life retired in the Cayo District of Belize attractive to me in my last years. I'm no longer young, and scuba diving, sailing the barrier reef islands, or cave spelunking, or jungle tours, no longer are within my physical capacity. But sitting around the local restaurant with a few beers and friends, the weekend barbecue, just the thought that all those physical activities are still there, due to the lack of economic activity and the subsequent small population pleases me. Ambience and the natural small town environment are what I crave now. Not the heady adventures of youth, exploring caves, going up jungle rivers potting at iguanas, deer hunting, or exploring the offshore remote atolls and other many, many reef islands.

For if I had been successful in changing the political model which stifles the economic development, the population would now be 5 times as large in the nation. The cost of living 3 times as high and opportunities to retire on a small budget disappearing with all else that would have gone with population growth, due to successful economic activity. There is something to be said for mediocricity and lack of economic development choked by the British system of political greed and opportunism.

Belize has 260,000 people after 40 years. The slow growth is primarily due to the unattractiveness of the political scene, the despotism and cronyism. But if you are outside of that, retiring on a small independent income, the subsequent living conditions are great for retirement.

Philosphically speaking, sometimes I feel sad for Belize and missed opportunities. With $2.3 billion Bz in national debt, half of which is owed in foreign exchange overseas and only a $400 million Bz annual revenue flow. There is no chance soon of the picture in Belize changing for the BETTER. But in retirement and old age, is BETTER meaning more economic activity and population growth really better, I ask myself? I think not after all? At least from my old age selfish point of view. If the political model had been changed and thus economic activity increased, the population would have risen and more congestion arose. Those places in the country where rare species of fish and animals and birds live in narrow confined ecological niches would no longer exist.

Better politics and better economics would only translate into a loss and extinction of many of our wild places and rare species in the country. Population would have expanded through immigration at an astronomical rate from North America, and from over the neighboring borders, bringing the new and different problems of excess and wealth. The little we have now in population growth is carefully balanced by lack of opportunity and pragmatism, created by our lousy political system of despotism. Not sure if it is sad to say such things? But maybe our Esquivels, the Barrows, Fonseca's and Musa's in our political system are the best thing that could have ever happened to Belize? Certainly they make my retirement years possible in a social atmosphere of genteel poverty and with friends at a cost I can afford.

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