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Joined: Oct 1999
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Marty Offline OP
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What was exposed in a particularly graphic way during 2007 was how enormous is the power of the Prime Minister in Belize's constitutional democracy, especially when that Prime Minister has a large majority of seats. The reason the enormous nature of the Prime Minister's power was exposed that year was because it appeared that a genuine national movement had emerged to oppose the use of public funds to pay the Universal Health Services (UHS) debt, and yet Prime Minister Said Musa, seemingly a single man, waited until the last possible moment to yield to the popular will, if only temporarily.

The Prime Minister only appears to be a single man, because his constitutional position derives from the fact that the Governor General, Belize's titular head of state, is "convinced" that the Prime Minister is the individual who has the support of the majority of the area representatives who belong to the political party with the majority in the House of Representatives. Those House majority area representatives, for their part, have received the majority of the votes of the registered and voting adult electors of Belize. (There may have been an exception to this rule in 1993, when the UDP standard bearers received a couple thousand votes fewer, overall, than the PUP candidates.)

The fact that the Governor General, who owes his ultimate allegiance to the Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, is Belize's head of state, surely suggests and perhaps even indicates, that Belize is in some kind of status subordinate to the aforementioned Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. (I will return to this "status" later in the essay.)

It may be, based on the recent votes of the trade unions and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry where the matter of using social security funds to purchase Telemedia (BTL) shares is concerned, that this will become Prime Minister Dean Barrow's UHS moment, so to speak. Popular opposition to the use of social security funds to buy BTL shares has hardly reached the level of the UHS uproar, but if the issue becomes at any point to be absolutely vital to the leadership of the Prime Minister, then the constitutional fact of the matter is that he has the power to bull his way through.

As Mr. Musa was ending his first term of office in late 2002 and commencing his second term in early 2003, I found that he was becoming a man on the road to intransigence. I am sure that he would say, or ask, in his defence, where was the evidence. It was more a mood, I would submit, which was becoming evident to me, and that mood consisted of an attitude wherein he would not allow himself to be pressured. Personally, I had always thought politics was about the way politicians adjust to pressures in order to establish and maintain consensus. I did not appreciate how awesome the Prime Minister's power was, and yes, how dangerous it is, until the time of the UHS crisis in 2007.

In the several weeks leading up to Belize's political independence on September 21, 1981, I had been scandalized by the arrogance of Prime Minister George Price's power where the issue of Belize's proposed national flag was concerned. Remember, these were weeks then when it appeared that Mr. Price and his government would insist on what the rest of us Belizeans viewed as a PUP flag, becoming Belize's national flag. The compromise decision to add the two horizontal strips of red came very late in that ball game. I am positive of this, but it is never discussed.

The thing is, Mr. Price had become such an institution by 1981 insofar as his personality was concerned (and remember that he had been initially "First Minister" in 1961, and later Premier, in fact was "Premier" in those weeks before independence), that in 1981 I did not focus on the concept of the Prime Minister's power the way I began to do at the time of the UHS matter.

There had been a group of Belizeans who began to hold serious discussions on the matter of political reform soon after the young lions of the PUP were elected to government in August of 1998. It had appeared to be a government, partly because of Prime Minister Musa's personal history, which would be open to progressive and nationalistic suggestions. That reformist group of Belizeans included Godwin Hulse, Patrick Rogers, and Carolyn Trench-Sandiford. I did not personally give the group the respect they, their colleagues, and their deliberations deserved. For this, I apologize. Still, I learned from this group, and I felt that the active participation in the reform group of Kremandala's late Edgar X Richardson, represented institutional respect for the initiative.

In any case, it will be of interest and importance to analyze how our relatively new Prime Minister behaves as this critical Telemedia vs SpeedNet confrontation unfolds. In my opinion, the Prime Minister continues to make two mistakes which are costing him credibility amongst the roots as he battles the Chichester dragon. The ultimate reason why the Chichester dragon is so fearsome no doubt has much to do with this complex, unspecified relationship between the Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, on the one part, and the independent nation-state of Belize, on the other. Remember, everyone in the House of Representatives has to swear allegiance to Queen Elizabeth I and "her heirs and successors." Exactly what the hell does this mean when push comes to shove?

Power to the people. Power in the struggle.

Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 84,400
Marty Offline OP
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Author: Evan X Hyde

That element within the Opposition People’s United Party (PUP) which has been referred to as the “old guard” since their electoral defeat in February 2008, has paid a lot of propaganda attention to myself since this defeat. The more immediate, and I think more relevant, problem for them is the combination of the Albert and Lake Independence area representatives – Mark Espat and Cordel Hyde. But, it has reached a point where the line the old guard has been taking, is that Mark and Cordel are listening to me. Imagine.

There is another situation to which the PUP should be paying attention, and that is the “area of disturbed weather,” to use the meteorological term, which COLA, APAMO, Oceana, SATIIM, VIP, PNP and the like represent. If you have lived in these tropical regions, you know that vague areas of disturbed weather sometimes end up becoming monster hurricanes.

Anyway, the fundamental reason why electoral politicians, and they come from both the blue and the red, often pay major attention to me, at the same time while they routinely ridicule my electoral record, is because there is a group of voters who are loyal to me and others like me. If we use the yardstick of Evan X Hyde in Collet in 1974 and Rufus X in Belize Rural North in 1989, these being poorly-financed, independent candidate runs, that small group represents a minimum of 4-plus percent of the electorate.

4-plus percent certainly does not look like a lot, but it can be the difference in certain areas. And the thing about that 4-plus percent is that it has been proven to be a consistent and determined group. 

Politics has proven to be both a curse and a blessing in my life, and I will explain. I am a writer. I was a writer before I ever mounted a public rostrum, which was 1969. Politics and writing are very different professions. Politics is about people, of course, but writing is about the words and sounds, the moods, dreams and ideas in a writer’s mind. As a writer who became a public speaker in 1969, I was leader of a cultural organization which attracted support and loyalty from a defined mass of Belizeans. That defined mass of Belizeans was judged to be a threat by the ruling PUP in early 1970, and it was considered a possible salvation by the Opposition National Independence Party (NIP) in late 1971. The PUP sought to imprison me in 1970, and then the NIP sought my support in 1971. These situations both proved to be curses.


At the same time, though, the support and loyalty of that defined mass of Belizeans made it possible for this newspaper to be established and for it to survive attacks of various kinds, from foundation. Amandala was authentic, it was indigenous, and it was revolutionary. Had it not been for politics, in the sense of an organized body of people/defenders, it would have been crushed.

Now then, when the PUP won general elections in 1998 and 2003, the PUP was supported by this newspaper and by myself. As a minority presence in Belize’s public life, I have always been compelled to react to the much greater forces of the two major political parties. When the PUP or the UDP become entangled with myself, I have to seek refuge in alliance with the “other” party. For reasons going back to their 1984 to 1989 term of office, the Manuel Esquivel-UDP and myself became antagonistic to each other. When Mr. Esquivel returned to power in 1993, he committed his administration to punishing me. In retaliation, I was PUP in 1998. In 2003, I would say this was perhaps a case where I didn’t know any better. Plus, the UDP in 2003 didn’t really deserve anybody’s support.

The old guard of the PUP have apparently decided that they can intimidate me into supporting their party in 2013. The UDP leaders, for their part, have begun to become nervous about what they perceive as criticism by Amandala journalists. So, last week for example, we had the PUP old guard newspaper running their weekly half-page advertisement condemning yours truly as a sell-out to Barrow, while the Barrow Guardian was, at the same time, attacking Amandala as being in the service of Cordel Hyde, among other things.

The political parties in power, change from time to time. But there are certain institutions which remain in power in Belize, no matter what. These are the churches, administrated from Europe and North America, which control the schools and, hence, the minds of our children. As a roots and revolutionary writer, early on I was branded anathema by the churches. Denied the imprimatur of the churches, I found writing salvation in the arms of the Belizean people. That is the true meaning of this here story.

Power to the people. Power in the struggle.

Joined: Nov 2000
Posts: 5,563
I appreciate your writing. Are you now ready to support a third party - maybe VIP?

Take only pictures leave only bubbles
Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 609
I would like to see the third party ! Power to the people

Joined: Oct 2003
Posts: 2,461
Not while his son Cordell Hyde and son in law Mark Espat are PUP standardbearers.

Belize based travel specialist
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Joined: Jul 2008
Posts: 1,206
I hate politics... Just do the right thing, people!

Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 84,400
Marty Offline OP
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The Guatemalan Claim

Pain, whether it is physical or otherwise, can become so terrible that the human organism, for its own protection, goes into unconsciousness, or shock. In seeking to reduce the terrible impact of pain, human beings go into all kinds of defensive mode. With respect to our sacred Holy Saturday Crosscountry bicycle race, in recent years most of us Belizeans have begun entering a defensive mode before Holy Saturday. We have been doing the same thing for many years where our national football selections are concerned - defensive mode.

In football, we know that they have been putting one "wap" on us over and over and over. Belize does not have "standing" national selections. These things are hurriedly thrown together a few weeks or so before whichever game is to be played, and the media are enlisted to hype the prospect of success when the preparation fundamentals have not been fulfilled. Big time bogus.

Personally, I choose to see a lot of Belizean phenomena through the prism of the unfounded Guatemalan claim, because I know that this is a very serious issue. Belize is quite a strange country in many respects. One of these extraordinary respects has to do with the Guatemalan claim.

The reality is that there are people in high places in Belize who have been essentially supporting this claim from the time of the 1950's. Because there has been such a powerful pro-Guatemalan lobby here, certain things are simply not discussed. Young Belizean generations are left in dangerous ignorance. These things have been swept under the rug. For me, the most relevant of these things was the fact that the Guatemalans had established a "Belize Office" in the 1950s with an annual budget of 10 million quetzales. This Belize Office was for the "recovery" of Guatemala's "23rd Department." That's us, Jack.

Because formal treaty attempts by the Americans and the British to have Belize become a satellite of Guatemala were violently rejected by the Belizean people in 1968 and 1981, Washington and London have since then been taking different approaches which are more subtle, more insidious, and, I suppose, less traumatic.

Belize was a settlement which became a regional instrument of the British which allowed them to interfere in the trade, business, industrial, political and military matters of Mexico and the Central American republics. This was in the nineteenth century, after Mexico and the Central American republics became independent of Spain in 1821. Prior to that, Belize was a place where pirates of British ancestry raided Spanish shipping and forests in this area.

During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and the early part of the twentieth, we roots Belizeans here were like "extras" in one of these extravagant movies. You know how they refer to, " � and cast of thousands"? We were those thousands - nameless, faceless, and expendable.

Things began to change, for argument's sake, with the Ex-Servicemen's Rebellion in 1919, followed by Tony Soberanis' roots rebellion in 1934. Those two events set the stage for Belize's nationalist rebellion in 1950, wherein we who were the extras laid claim to this territory as our Belizean patrimony.

In 1950, Belize's colonial masters were the British. But, there were "masters in waiting," and if we were to judge by how Guatemala's rulers had treated their own roots people historically, we believed those "masters in waiting" likely would be worse than the British. Still, Guatemala had money to spend on the "recovery" of Belize, and there were Belizean people, "leaders" included, who took that money. I believe they are still taking "it," but "it" comes in different forms with different labels and in different currencies today.

There are prominent nations in the world, led by the United States and the United Kingdom, which have declared themselves "Friends of Belize." These "Friends of Belize" can't figure out why the Belizean people would not want to cut a deal with the Guatemalan government. It is for sure such a deal would have benefit for Belize in areas such as business, trade, and tourism. In response, I would say that one of the assumed benefits of sovereignty is that we, the Belizean people, don't have to explain to anyone why we do what we do, or why we don't do what we don't do.

And, speaking only for my personal self, I want to say to whomever the cap fits, that whenever you are responsible, whether by omission or commission, for bringing shame upon Belize or lowering our Belizean self-esteem in front of our enemies and our neighbours, then I consider you a traitor to the land of my birth and my existence.

Power to the people. Power in the struggle.


Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 84,400
Marty Offline OP
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From The Publisher

Sex is a very serious and very important aspect of our lives as human beings. In most human beings of reproductive age, this is an extremely powerful urge. The sex urge is extremely powerful because this is how we reproduce ourselves, how we express our demand for self-preservation. All of us want very much to live, even though we will certainly die.

One of the attractions of religion is that almost all the various faiths promise eternal life for their disciples. That eternal life involves a spiritual concept usually referred to as the "soul." But, there is another form of eternal life, in the sense that if you could be assured that your children and your children's children and all their generations would go on and on forever, that would be a form of eternal life. There is no such guarantee, however, though the sex urge represents, whether we are conscious of it or not, our personal quest for forever.

Belize is a small place, and there is and has always been a lot of tension amongst families involved with the question of who will have sex with whom. As a people, we are divided by color, ethnicity, religion, and class. Ideally, people who are going to mate with each other are not encouraged to cross these lines of division, because they will encounter problems additional to those which life presents in the normal course of things.

And yet, it is true that opposites attract. Human beings are curious, and curiosity often gets us into trouble. Then, this love business can throw everything rational out of whack. Once curiosity kicks in and opposites start attracting and love enters the picture, then things can get crazy. Lovers start behaving as if the traditional lines of division don't matter. All they know is that they are in love, and that they want each other, and they want to be with each other forever and forever.

As human organisms, we are probably most vulnerable to the recklessness and vicissitudes of the love experience during our teenaged years. These are years when parents are greatly challenged, because they have to control their children without confining them. There are some immigrant families in Belize who actually send away their children when they reach the dangerous teen years. This is because they don't want their children to become romantically and sexually involved with us Belizeans. It is their children, and so that is their right.

The playing of sports in public places is a sexy exercise. The performers wear fewer clothes than one would wear on the street, and so members of the opposite sex can see more and find more to admire in the bodies of those who are performing than they would on the street. In the modern era, there are also members of the same sex admiring each other, but that is not what we are discussing at this time. We are discussing the sex dangers involved with age-old heterosexuality and sports: young girls and young ladies entering arenas where they can see and admire the physiques and gifts of young men.

I think the most serious divisions amongst families in Belize City have to do with class, the other areas of division such as color, ethnicity and religion being complicating factors. In practical terms, what this means is that if I have fought my way out of poverty into a higher standard of living, I wouldn't want my prize daughter getting hooked up with your poor-a- son. This is real in Belize, as it is all over the world, I suppose.

The class divisions and the sex factors translate into a situation where certain Belizean families refuse to support sports where lower class youth may become heroic, and, as a result, sexually attractive to their children. Belize is small. In America, there were a whole lot of young ladies, millions and millions and millions, who would have wanted to get close to Michael Jordan. The individual American father would not feel a personal danger involved with his daughter going crazy over Michael Jordan, because Michael (apart from being rich) had so many other ladies chasing him. But in Belize, if a Belizean version of Michael Jordan emerged as a hero, this place is so small that it could be my daughter or your daughter, and the thing is that everybody would know about it. The place is small. People are scared.

The starting lineup which ran on to the Civic court to represent the Kremandala Raiders in the inaugural semi-pro basketball season in 1992 featured two high school graduates, a high school dropout, and two primary school dropouts. By the second game the Raiders played, one of the primary school dropouts had become a city sensation because of his great gifts. He was not in a financial position to give any young lady a solid life, but his fame meant that young ladies wanted to be with him. This is the nature of many young ladies. They want to be with stars. If they themselves were not stars before, being with a star makes them a star.

The rulers of this society, therefore, are nervous about programs which may end up as a vehicle for lower class youth to ride to stardom. It's too dangerous, because our upper class young ladies would start becoming interested in lower class males. Not good.

When other options for upward social mobility are not available, sports is supposed to be a way for talented individuals from oppressed situations to move upwards. It's not happening in modern Belize, because the place is too small. I know that what I'm saying is true, that there are powerful and wealthy Belizeans who do not support sporting programs because they are afraid of creating what they consider "Frankensteins." Guiltiness rests on their conscience, oh yea.

Power to the people. Power in the struggle.

Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 84,400
Marty Offline OP
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"Not seldom in the annals of the past - and how much more often in tragedies never recorded or long-forgotten - had brave, proud, easy-going states, and even entire races, been wiped out, so that only their name or even no mention of them remains."

- pg. 227, THEIR FINEST HOUR, Winston S. Churchill, Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, 1949.

In listening to the retired BDF officer, Major Lloyd Jones, on Tuesday night's Adele Ramos Show, I was very, very impressed, but, at the same time, I also had to be slightly skeptical. Major Jones was saying things I have thought and believed for all of my adult life, and yet I had never heard anyone in active political or military authority speak thusly. Major Jones was discussing our national situation from a conventional military perspective, and he was speaking as a Belizean and as a nationalist.

When my generation was growing up in British Honduras in the 1960s, many of us were frustrated by Hon. George Price's weak reactions to Guatemalan government threats and intimidations. At one point, in fact, Mr. Price had told a foreign reporter that if independence failed, he would give the northern half of the country to Mexico and the southern half to Guatemala. And when the Guatemalan Francisco Sagastume led a small invasion across British Honduras' southern border with Guatemala in 1961, he only served a year and change in prison before being pardoned.

There was an ethnic flavor, a racist one even, to Guatemala's threats and intimidations, so that we black youth in Belize felt that we were being "punked." During the 1960s, we black youth did not know the difference between "Spanish" and Maya. Because we had been educated to be ignorant by schools run by European churches, we arbitrarily identified all Belizeans who were Latin in appearance with what we considered the dominant Guatemalan ethnicity. And, we wondered if "Spanish" Belizeans were as concerned about, and as hostile to, the Guatemalan claim as we black youth were.

In our majority consciousness as black youth in those times, we were supporters of Hon. Philip Goldson's National Independence Party (NIP), because the issue which drove Mr. Goldson was the Guatemalan threat. At a certain point in the early or middle 1960s, Mr. Goldson began to call for the establishment of a Belizean army. At that time, we had a British army garrison in place at Ladyville, and we also had the British Honduras Volunteer Guard (BHVG). The BHVG marched well and had a fine band, but I do not believe we black youth took them seriously as soldiers. Mr. Goldson was calling for a professional, fighting Belizean army. He was ignored, and the NIP never came close to winning a general election. The NIP were, truly, "Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition."

A serious, successful move to overthrow Mr. Goldson as the Opposition Leader, began in early 1973, while Mr. Philip was in London studying law. The new Opposition party which was formed in September of 1973, the United Democratic Party (UDP), soon announced that they would be downplaying the Guatemalan claim and focusing on "economic issues." This was saying, in effect, that Mr. Goldson had been wrong in his approach, and it turned out to mean that the UDP was a party which would fight communism, as a priority.

In ignorant Belize, only a few people knew that there was a bloody civil war raging in Guatemala at the time, that that republic was ruled by a brutal military dictatorship, that the masses of the people were downtrodden Maya and other indigenous peoples, and that all those nationalists in Guatemala who led the people's fight against oppression and corruption were condemned as "communists." This was what the Guatemalan government was telling the United States government, so that the Americans would continue sending arms and money to help the generals murder their own people.

The other interesting aspect of the situation in 1973 was that the new UDP quickly announced its support for Israel, which had been an ally of Guatemala's from the time that Jewish state was founded in 1948, and which had been providing expert military training for the Guatemalan army in the civil war. It was a case, then, of warm friendship among Washington, Tel Aviv and Guatemala City. If the UDP was so cozy with Washington and Tel Aviv, how could it be hostile to Guatemala City?

When the UDP finally came to power in 1984, Mr. Goldson formed a part of their government, but he was already practically blind, and his Cabinet Ministry portfolio was a minor one. Mr. Goldson ended up breaking away from the UDP to form the National Alliance for Belizean Rights (NABR) in 1991, because he believed the UDP leadership was betraying Belize by supporting the Maritime Areas Act.

I believe that when Belizeans come to political and military office here, they are sat down by the Americans and the British and told what they can and cannot do. I believe Belize is being overrun by Guatemalans, both demographically and territorially, and I believe this is what Washington and London want. With respect to the Guatemalan issue, our political and military leaders behave in a colonial manner. I say this because they do what they are told to do by Washington and London, and they ignore the feelings and wishes of the Belizean people.

Belize has changed right before our very eyes. This happened, against the visceral will of the Belizean masses, because our people were ignorant of the realities around us and because we had been made timid by European religion. The previous sentence appears to be expressing contradicting thoughts. I mean to say that yes, we wanted to become an independent nation, but we didn't want to fight for it.

I could not believe that Major Jones was saying the things he was saying on Tuesday night. I will seek an audience with him to find out some more. I thought he was magnificent in his presentation.


Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 84,400
Marty Offline OP
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Politics - mood and money

In the year 2011, Belize is now entering what we used to call the "rainy season." As a matter of background knowledge for our younger generations, the month of June used to be when we would be going back to school after the long holidays in April and May. Since 1964, however, June is when our students and teachers begin their long holidays, and since the change of holidays was specifically designed to have Belize's school year coincide with the school year in the United States, now we call our rainy season, "summer," after the American fashion where June, July and August are concerned.

National municipal elections are due in March of next year. With both the ruling UDP and the Opposition PUP still trying to complete their constituency conventions, which are deciding standard bearers for the general elections due in February of 2013, there has been almost no campaigning being done for the municipals. True, they're nine months away, but, if you think about it, right after the school holidays comes September, after that it's Christmas, and then bingo - 2012! And, the municipals will be extra important next year, because some political observers here feel that if the UDP win the 2012 municipals in a resounding fashion, Mr. Barrow will not wait for 2013, but rather he will call the generals for the summer of 2012.

Overall, Belize is not an extremely poor country, but we do have a lot of problems associated with poverty. These problems are exacerbated by the fact that we Belizeans have acquired American tastes, which are expensive. Our people are hard to satisfy where political administration is concerned. On the one hand, we voters see the sudden wealth of those who are elected to office because they swore how much they loved the people, and that gets on our nerves. Then, the party in Opposition is always promising cake and caviar, so that by the time we reach this part of Belize's electoral cycle, 20 months away from general elections, this usually becomes a tricky time for whichever party is enjoying the power of taxation.

Prime Minister, Hon. Dean Barrow, having been ambushed by the striking bus operators at an emergency press conference he called on Friday afternoon, May 27, in Belize City, decided that he would show his power at the Prime Minister's quarterly press conference this Wednesday afternoon. There are prickly issues apart from the bus transportation power struggles. There is the human rights controversy surrounding the forcible evacuation of the squatters near the proposed new Haulover Creek bridge at Chetumal Street. Then, the government may be on the wrong side of the offshore oil drilling matter. The UDP's new legislation appears to be going police state where crime and violence are concerned. The giant, Lord Ashcroft, and the Prime Minister remain at war. And now, BEL says it is broke. Under all the duress, Mr. Barrow decided, in the words of Channel 7's Jules Vasquez, to turn Wednesday's press conference into a political rally.

Street Belizeans in the old capital have hated the electricity company from the days decades ago when it was BEB (Belize Electricity Board), a government department which became a statutory board before it was privatized. The BEL people have been playing hardball with the government and people of Belize, because they are a monopoly which provides a public utility which is indispensable for most of us. The Barrow government, however, encouraged by a firm and nationalistic Public Utilities Commission (PUC), has been playing hardball right back. The government's position is popular, because BEL is essentially calling for higher rates, and government, taking sides with the people, is saying no.

So then, Mr. Barrow saved the BEL part of his opening statement for last. His St. George slaying the BEL dragon performance went over quite well, we think, but when the media were allowed to ask their various questions, the "other" issues immediately began to intrude. Mr. Barrow began to feel some pressure.

Because it is that time of Belize's electoral cycle again, Mr. Barrow's huge seat majority in the House of Representatives is not as intimidating as it once was. In the Belize City streets on Tuesday morning, various activist groups marched. Their numbers were not large, but their demeanor was determined. The marchers included Citizens Organized for Liberty through Action (COLA), Belizeans for Justice, the Belize Bus Owners Cooperative (BBOC), a group supporting Orange Walk East area representative Hon. Marcel Cardona, and even advocates for the incarcerated Seawell brothers.

Tuesday morning's was a motley group of marchers, but the mood of Wednesday afternoon's press conference was new, different. The press conference was edgy. And it is precisely Belizeans like those marchers who have caused the edginess. There are growing pockets of dissatisfaction amongst the people of Belize, while the ruling politicians are becoming defensive. This is the political mood. There is money out there which has interest in some specific results. For sure this summer begins a difficult period for Belize's democracy.

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