“The more shocking the crime, it seemed, the more powerful or powerfully connected the criminals, and in Latin America powerful people almost never end up in prison.”
- pg. 61, The Art of Political Murder, Francisco Goldman, Grove Press, New York, 2007
The UDP government elected in February of 2008 has been unable to punish anyone for the financial irregularities and excesses which took place between 1998 and 2008 under the PUP government led by Prime Minister Said Musa. Mr. Musa and his Minister of Finance, Ralph Fonseca, were arrested on theft charges linked to the diversion of $20 million donated by the Venezuelan government for housing in Belize. Mr. Musa and Mr. Fonseca late in 2007 sent that money to the Belize Bank to help in the repayment of a Universal Health Services (UHS) loan which had been guaranteed by the Government of Belize. In separate hearings, lawyers for the two accused got the charges thrown out before they could be heard before Supreme Court juries.
The meticulous hearings into the Social Security Board (SSB) financial scandal which had been led by Senate Committee chairman, Godwin Hulse, ended up as a file in the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP). That file, sadly but perhaps predictably, has gathered dust.
When the Musa government was being threatened by union-led demonstrations in the streets in February of 2005, Prime Minister Musa agreed to a commission of inquiry into the excesses and irregularities at the Development Finance Corporation (DFC). When that commission was completed, lawyers for the chairman of the DFC during the period investigated, attorney Glenn Godfrey, brought a Supreme Court injunction to undermine the legality of the inquiry. The DFC files – who knows?
Godfrey had also been a principal in the Social Security Board scandal, but in the months leading up to the February 2008 general elections, he ingratiated himself with high ranking members of UDP leadership. The Dean Barrow administration has made no really determined effort to open the DFC can of worms.
Today, it is as if “de lee breeze” has blown over. Said Musa is organizing for a return to leadership of the People’s United Party, and Ralph Fonseca has decided to become active in the constituency he represented from 1993 to 2008 – Belize Rural Central. Once there is a return to the status quo ante in the PUP, one should not be surprised to see Mr. Godfrey return to embrace his two partners in the aforementioned financial excesses and irregularities – Said and Ralph.
Reports from the recent village council elections indicate a growing mood of political independence. These are Belizeans who have become attitudinally estranged from both the PUP and the UDP. The chances are that such an estrangement is more widespread in the urban areas of Belize, where there is more media activity. Belizeans know that they were ripped off by the PUP between 1998 and 2008, and now we have come to believe that the UDP will do nothing about it. We taxpayers are being instructed by the UDP to pay the PUP bills. It is more than an instruction. We are being ordered to pay bills which the SSB and DFC inquiries established were incurred by government officials and their cronies. The law is being used to pay for the lawbreakers. And the legal system of Belize has not found anyone to blame. This would be funny if it was not so painful.
This newspaper has come to the conclusion that the Belmopan-based Vision Inspired by the People (VIP) is not the political answer to Belize’s problem. There is need for a nationally organized third party to bring some heat on the PUDP. The PUP and the UDP are clearly in conspiracy at the highest levels to protect each other when the people become too militant. The leaders of the PUP and the UDP have a common interest in preserving things the way that they are. This is the conclusion we have come to after watching what has happened with the evidence adduced by the SSB and DFC investigations.
If your response is to say that words are cheap, or words to that effect, we agree. The fact of the matter is, however, that the people have the power to seek justice when it is denied. There are bodies which are nationally organized which already exist in Belize. Such bodies include the trade unions. When the British Governor of British Honduras unilaterally devalued the B.H. dollar on December 31, 1949, the People’s United Party did not exist. The General Workers Union (GWU) did. The PUP was built in 1950 on the foundation which had been laid by the GWU. This history is too little told, deliberately too little told.
The people of Belize have been robbed. Now we have to pay back what has been robbed from us, and the robbers are walking free and laughing at us. This is an intolerable situation. The union leaders have to hold a summit at the national level. They will have a friend in Kremandala. People of Belize, we can’t take this injustice lying down. We are behaving now like sheep, when we are people.
Power to the people. Power in the struggle.