By Wellington C. Ramos
When then leader of the opposition Dean Barrow and his United Democratic Party (UDP) took over the government of Belize in February 2008, after ten years of the People’s United Party (PUP) in office, the country was broke and was indebted to several international financial institutions for billions of dollars.
Born in Dangriga Town, the cultural capital of Belize, Wellington Ramos has BAs in Political Science and History from Hunter College, NY, and an MA in Urban Studies from Long Island University. He is an Adjunct Professor of Political Science and History
In the United States of America, President Barack Obama took over the presidency in January 2009, after eight years of President George W. Bush, who left the country with six trillion dollars in debt, a collapsed financial market, a war in Afghanistan and Iraq, low consumer confidence, unemployment growing, American hatred abroad, skyrocketing health care cost, Bin Laden still missing while in action killing Americans and a mild depression.
I do not think that there is anyone with common sense who honestly believed that Prime Minister Dean Barrow and President Barack Obama could have solved all their countries’ problems in their first terms. If they do then they are not realistic or need to get their brains checked.
Prime Minister Dean Barrow is the first black prime minister of Belize; likewise, President Barack Obama is the first black president of the United States. The political system in Belize is different from the United States because our prime minister is not elected by the people of Belize through a direct vote like the Americans elect their presidents.
Perhaps, if Belizeans were to elect their prime minister through a direct vote, we would always have a Hispanic Belizean as our prime minister because Belize have more Hispanics than blacks in our country today and there are some people who prefer to vote for their own race of people.
Like the United States, Belize is a multi-ethnic country, with people from several countries living in it. However, in the two major political parties, the United Democratic Party and the People’s United Party, there are people from all the ethnic groups and families in Belize.
They still retain their family ties and friendship despite the differences in their party affiliation. Elections are held every five years and whichever party wins the most seats in the House of Representatives forms the new government. Belize is not a republic but a parliamentary democratic government with the Queen of England as the titular head of state. The governor general of Belize is appointed by the prime minister and approved by the Queen of England then he or she represents the Queen or King in the country. This is also the same arrangement for most countries that were former British territories that got their independence from Great Britain and became a part of the British Commonwealth.
Since these two able and capable men came to office, they have been working hard to deal with the problems they inherited. This is happening at a time when many international financial markets, including the Europeans, are having serious problems. Unemployment is also a major problem in most countries today and they are trying to find ways to solve it.
The prime minister of Belize, Dean Barrow, has a 26-5 majority in the House of Representatives and can recommend all his reform agendas to this body to get approved and then implemented. The members of the People’s United Party are still angry because they lost the last election so they have been using unnecessary legal court actions to try and stop the government from implementing their reforms. These actions on their part are costing the Belizean taxpayers millions of dollars in legal fees and time. In the United States, the Republican Party is using their control of the House of Representatives to block all the reform proposals President Obama has recommended to them also.
When President Obama first got into office, I heard the senior Republican Senator from Kentucky Mitch McConnell uttering these following words: “We are going to make sure that he is only a one term president.” That is what the Republican Party is interested in and nothing else. They are not even concerned about the living conditions of most American people who are unemployed or are in need of the basic resources to survive; just power and control.
The American people have come to the conclusion that the Republican Party’s hatred for President Barack Obama is going too far and is not going to be tolerated. Come November of next year, they are beginning to mobilize themselves to vote against them for the presidency and congress. If they were to pass the reforms proposed by the president, the unemployment situation will be resolved quickly and they would get credit for working with the president and possibly regain control of the House and Senate.
They are thinking the opposite -- that only the president will get credit and they could still lose the House of Representatives and the Senate.
In Belize, the People’s United Party is fragmented and stagnated to the point that they do not even know how to move forward with their plans. In the last election of February 2008, they outspent the United Democratic Party by a huge margin and still lost badly at the polls. Belizeans were saying: “We go tek de money and vote them out,” and that is what they did. Now they know that having money alone in Belize will not guarantee them an election victory.
The people who have financed the People’s United Party over the years are afraid to give them their money and then suffer the same fate they did in the last election. Plus, a lot of money is being spent on these lawyers who are bringing cases to court that have no legal merit just to get a paycheck. No matter how much money they spend, the Belize people are already fed up with their stupid legal blocking games and are going to be waiting for them come election day.
In the United States, the Republican circus will soon be over and the American people will be ready to go and see the show with their new clown. Caribbean News Now