By Wellington C. Ramos
For years now I have been hearing that some Belizeans would not vote unless they are being paid by the political parties in Belize. This is a fact that is now known by most Belizeans and some of them continue to boast publicly about the amount of money they have been receiving over the years to go and vote.
The right to vote is priceless and many people have given up their lives to exercise this right. I am opposed to paying people to vote because it is fundamentally and morally wrong for a government to condone such activity in a democratic country. Plus, once people are being paid to vote our political representatives will be obligated to serve in their best interest as opposed to that of our beloved country Belize and people.
Also, the poor people who took their monies out of desperation will be giving up the only power they have and when they go to the politicians for help he or she can tell them that they do not owe them anything because they already paid them for their vote.
In Belize today, politics is being influenced by money.
When Dean Barrow came to power with his UDP government in the year 2008, he pledged some constitutional, economic and political reforms issues to change some of the things that happened under the previous People United Party government in their ten year reign. Some of these issues were selling out the country’s assets to family members and friends, giving huge tax breaks to their political donors and friends, downsizing governmental departments then giving private individuals, friends companies the task of taking over the departments responsibilities.
These people got together and went to court to try and stop the government from implementing its initiatives. This attempt to stall the government was costly to the government and people of Belize. Because they failed through the courts, they then embarked on an aggressive mission to remove Dean Barrow and the UDP from power by any means necessary. Up to about a month ago most people felt that the United Democratic Party was going to win by a landslide. When the election was over the election was so close that most Belizeans were shocked.
I refuse to believe that the election was close because the Belizean people were angry with the United Democratic Party. Polls taken before the election indicated that the Belizean people were unhappy with the United Democratic Party but did not see the People’s United Party as their alternative. The third parties and the independent candidates had no chances because Belizeans have never voted in huge numbers for independent candidates. Also, Belizeans are indentifying themselves more as independents rather than UDP or PUP.
Now that we know that our people are getting paid to vote and that there is too much money influence in our electoral system, we must force our government to pass new election laws that will deal with campaign spending, bribery, etc. In addition, an Electoral Commission could be established by the government to look into all past irregularities, so that the members of this body can make recommendations to the government to pass legislations for fines, imprisonment, the recall of representatives and all infractions committed against the electoral laws.
If we as Belizeans continue to pretend as if this is not an important issue to address now, then we are in for a serious awakening in the future. Belize is already a country where there are many black people, Garifuna, Creoles and East Indians, who are the poorest people in the country. The indigenous Mayas are united in their causes while the blacks are divided and segregated. Divide and conquer is the old control tactic that always works against people.
The Mestizos, Arabs, Chinese, Mennonites are in control of the economy. Not only are they in control of the economy but politics also. In Belize today if you want to run for office, you must go to these people to get money to finance your political campaign. When they give their monies, they ask for favours in return. If the politicians don’t give them what they want, they support the other candidate in the next election until they get what they want.
Once you take their money, you then become obligated to them. Our country possesses a vast amount of natural resources that we can use to benefit all of our people. However, foreign people and a few families in Belize are working to take most of it for themselves because they are greedy. Economic and political power goes hand in hand and it is useless to have political power without having economic power because the latter determines everything.
The time for us to save our country is now and, if we do not, our children, grandchildren and future generations of Belizeans to come shall continue to live in poverty. My Belizean people, do not sell your votes because that is priceless and it is the only weapon you have to demand respect and anything you want from a politician. Once you sell it, the politician will always disrespect you and gain power, while you remain powerless. SOURCE