... by using the courts

By Wellington C. Ramos

I find it very strange that the oldest political party in Belize, the People's United Party (PUP), is petitioning the Supreme Court to try and overturn the results of the elections that were held in several constituencies in Belize so that they could be given a chance to have recall elections. This, they believe, will give them a chance for by-elections to be held in these constituencies and possibly make them win more seats to form the new government in Belize.

The People's United Party ruled Belize from 1956 to 1984 under the leadership of one person, the late George Cadle Price. They had more than enough time to develop Belize and make it one of the most industrialized countries in Central America.

Since the independence of Belize, the United Democratic Party (UDP) just won their fourth election to go ahead of the PUP in post independence wins. They have never been given the chance until now to win back to back elections so that they can continue with their reform agenda items to clean out the mess they inherited when they took over the reins of government from the People's United Party, who bankrupted our country.

During the years I was growing up in Belize, I witnessed and heard of several voting practices that they conducted to remain in power for all those years, such as people voting in dead people's names, voting in more than one constituency, registering illegal aliens to vote, having returning officers steal elections for them, revealing the voting of some individuals to the government, matchbox picking of the candidate, paying people to vote for their candidates, registering people to vote who were underage, counting old ballots and victimizing people who voted against their party. There was a time when they brought buses loaded with illegal aliens to Dangriga Town to register them to vote and the Dangriga people went to the registration office and protested against them forcing the buses to turn back to Mango Creek Village.

Electoral reforms have taken place in Belize with voter identification cards and some other reform issues, but making illegal aliens citizens is still a common practice and paying people to vote has become rampant, along with other election infractions.

What Belize needs is campaign finance reform and electoral reform laws to stop all the illegal activities that have been taking place in all the elections held in our country so far. This has nothing to do with being a PUP, UDP, VIP, PNP or any other political party but to act in the best interest of our country. If we continue to conduct elections without doing these reforms, violence will enter the election process because the people who have no power will not sit idly by to be governed by the rich, a few families and one ethnic group, while they remain poor and our country's wealth and natural resources continue to be given to them over and over again.

I am a Belizean by birth and I am so upset with what I am hearing taking place in my country, because too many people are taking advantage of our Belizean people. Especially when I hear that some respectable, educated and well learned Belizeans are collaborating with these interest groups and foreigners to enrich themselves and sell out our native land. In Belize today, illegal aliens and foreigners are given more things than the natural born Belizeans and this is unjustifiable.

If we cannot have a government to look after the interest of our citizens, then what is the purpose of voting and why do we have a government? Belizeans have become so angry, frustrated and disenchanted with our political system that they do not see the sense in voting any more. It has even gotten to the point where some do not see the difference or differences between the two main political parties, UDP and PUP, and this is a sad state of political affairs.

Luckily, I have lived through the differences and will never forget what I witnessed as a child growing up in Dangriga Town. Some people in Belize like to play like they forgot but I do not play the forgetful game. Playing like you forgot when you remember qualifies you as an individual to be a fraudster.

Revolutions occur when people are angry with their governments and begin to feel hopeless. The seeds of a revolution already exist in Belize but for now it is being manifested through the violent crimes that are being committed on the streets of Belize City daily. The government of Belize better pay close attention to what is taking place in the country and do not take our Belizean people for granted any more.

No human being who cannot provide for himself, herself and his family will be happy with any government who is not assisting him or her towards that goal. With limited resources available to the government, they have a difficult task on their hands. However, as a government, their job is to do whatever is necessary to find those resources for their people.

We need to do something positive with our oil money and that commitment should be to do something about the following issues; free education, job training, employment, housing, land development, lots, farming, agriculture, develop our beaches, sports, cultural awareness, infrastructural development, streets, bridges, roads, create new industries, establish a financial industry and factories. In Belize, unemployment is rampant and there are many people who are in this category.

In the end, all these court petitions will not result in the People's United Party taking back the government but could have a negative effect on them. If the Belize people portray this as an attempt by the PUP to have the courts influence their votes, then it could turn people against the PUP. The courts are in a very uncomfortable position because, in issues like these, they would rather have the people decide who their representatives should be.