“Real” corruption

The former Prime Minister/PUP Leader Hon. Said Musa, area representative for the Fort George constituency, made a very big mistake in the House of Representatives last Friday. He got carried away and condemned the attempt by some senior staffers at the Social Security Board to get their mortgages below $50,000 so as to make themselves eligible for the Prime Minister’s write-off, as “real” corruption.

Things happen so fast in Belize in the third millennium, you know, most of us remember very little about the details of the national rebellion in Belize which took place in late 2004 and early 2005, and forced Mr. Musa’s government to allow hearings into the goings on at the Social Security Board and a nationally televised commission of inquiry into the abuses at the Development Finance Corporation (DFC).

Merlene Bailey-Martinez came into the national spotlight because she was the panelist appointed to the three-member DFC commission of inquiry on the recommendation of the then Opposition UDP.

What we remember vividly about the DFC hearings is that this was a militant demand by the trade unions of Belize to which Mr. Musa, under duress, had to agree.

After the DFC hearings, those who would have been most in legal danger, filed injunctions to prevent the proceedings being used as a basis for prosecution. It was all legal “tricknology” after the hearings, and, to tell the truth, we don’t remember the details. In the court of public opinion, the damage had been righteously done, and, Belize being the corrupt society that it is, we could not have expected that the DFC felons would have been “bangled.” They came, you see, from the highest places in Belizean society, and Belize is a place where big people don’t go to jail.

Had those dramatic hearings become a basis for prosecutions, had they remained in the public eye and consciousness, Merlene Bailey-Martinez would probably not have committed the indiscretion she is alleged to have committed. The DFC felons got away with hundreds of millions of Belizean taxpayers’ dollars. Merlene merely tried to make herself eligible for mortgage relief. The problem was that she was taking advantage of information available to her only in her capacity as the chief executive officer at the Social Security Board. This was wrong. It was not real corruption. Real corruption took place at the DFC in the years between 1998 and 2004.

We are hereby requesting that our editorial staff, as a result of Mr. Musa’s accusation in the House on Friday, do a rehash of the SSB hearings and the DFC commission of inquiry so that we, the people, can remember what real corruption was like.

The way the PUP has historically operated is that once one of their own does something, no matter what, then it is well done. “Touch one, touch all.” No matter how guilty one of their own is proven to be, the party is expected to defend him or her. This is a criminal mentality. It is a gang mentality. But, historically, this mentality has worked for the PUP.

The UDP, for their part, behave with a self-righteous posture and approach. They hold themselves up to an unrealistic standard of purity. The problem is that the masses of the Belizean people have historically been victims of institutionalized racism and oppression. We suffered racism and oppression at the hands of the British, who themselves behaved as if they were paragons of virtue when they were not. When the Belizean people began fighting for their freedom, it was “by any means necessary.” The UDP’s Pharisaical attitude was irrelevant.

Today, however, we run our own money. We are a sovereign, independent nation. No political party will be allowed to repeat what the PUP did at the SSB and the DFC between 1998 and 2004. If this is allowed to happen again, then we Belizeans are suckers and fools.

All power to the people.