With each passing press conference and with each passing House Sitting, whether Special or otherwise, one gets the distinct feeling that our little Belize is in some seriously deep shit. There is no nice way of putting it, no soft-landing to proffer, only some hard cold facts to face. For the majority of us, these are some very tough times and looking out to the horizon, little hope of any better to come anytime soon.
Of course, Dean Barrow and those who promulgate his propaganda will have us believe that it is all because of this dreadful Superbond. Were it not for the Superbond, they tell us; all Belizeans would be living in the lap of luxury and sapping honey from the gutter of prosperity. All the crime, the astronomical cost of living, the high poverty rate, all the unemployment and even the rampant corruption is as a direct result of this awful Superbond. Oh the life we would be living, were it not for this dratted Superbond!
What Barrow and crew would have us forget is that along with the Superbond, they inherited a gainful oil industry and a booming Tourism industry! If we are to believe the folks at BNE, we have sold billions of dollars of oil since the first well began producing. According to their figures, Belize receives almost a hundred million dollars each year in revenue from that oil; more than enough to service our external debts. Then there are the millions more that are raked in from granting new concessions. If we are to believe the people in tourism, arrivals have been constantly on the rise, with each tourist paying a head tax and the cruise companies paying hefty fees and taxes. Where is all that money going?
While Dean Barrow has proven to be a very poor leader, none can deny his exceptional ability at conniving and setting in place an infrastructure and network to support his lies and chicanery. The unions have been infiltrated with ardent support at all the key levels. When is the last time that you heard from one of those so-called leaders? The so-called independent media is busy promoting UDP agenda as the radio stations feature one government representative after the other as guests. They are given all the airtime that they need to badger us with their lies and propaganda. All the hitherto respected and revered objective thinkers, Godwin Hulse et al, have all been bought and are now firmly entrenched in the red corner. Who, pray tell, will deliver from this evil?
As for the print media, the fire that burned so brightly from 2004 til 2008 has all but been extinguished. The Reporter…well, the Reporter is busy being the Reporter; addressing issues that are hardly of any significance while totally ignoring the pressing issues of the day. The last few issues of the Amandala have dealt with the Superbond from the perspective of promoting Hall Mark as a savior, Said Musa’s firing of a couple of workers and of a pastor named Willacey who had consensual sex with a teenage girl. Not that Norman Willacey was right in what he did; he was as wrong as two left shoes, but with all the problems facing our country today, is this really the best we can do for headline news? Or are all these just convenient distractions from the real problems that we face?
Last week, Belizeans got some news that we have been expecting since a few days after the elections. The gang-truce money is depleted and no longer will the bad boys be paid to “hold it down.” This is as bad as it can get and pretty soon this Barrow administration will understand what a real mess they have made of things. It would have been better to have not started such a program in the first place than to spoil these miscreants and now try to cut them off cold turkey. Everyone except Dean Barrow knew that that program was unsustainable.
Barrow had informed us a while back that it was costing the government $50,000 per week to keep the gang boys happy. That was alarming enough but now Mark King tells us that it was in fact, actually costing $158,000 per week. That computes to a whopping seven and a half million per annum. Is it any wonder that we cannot meet our debt obligations?
The disconcerting thing about all that is that it never really made a difference. The murder rate continues to climb with almost a hundred already dead this year and with the year only half gone. Robberies, rape and home invasions have become everyday occurrences and the security forces believe that if they don’t report it, it means it didn’t happen. I guess if I cover my eyes it means you can’t see me, right?
At a press conference last Friday, Mark King informed us that “there was an atmospheric condition out there that know the programs weren't being effective as they were." I swear to GOD folks, that is a direct quote. Can somebody please explain to me exactly what this man was saying?
Mark King at least had some degree of honesty, explaining had he been given the program four years before, It would have had what he described as “an exit strategy.“ You mean it had none? King basically said that the program had no structure, no direction and was doomed to fail from the start. Folks that is exactly what we have been telling these dunces from the start. For three years at seven million per annum, did it really have to cost us twenty million dollars to find that out?
Belize is in a mess and with an arrogant egomaniac at the helm; this ship seems destined to sink. Hubert Elrington, who once served alongside Dean Barrow in Cabinet, warned us that if we gave Dean Barrow the rudder, he would steer the ship straight onto the reef. Those words are proving to be quite prophetic. Yet, even while we hasten to our rendezvous with disaster, cabinet ministers continue to splurge and live high on the hog. Like the legendary Nero who fiddled while Rome was burning, the Dean Team lives their dream while the rest of us suffer through the nightmare.
Regardless of how loudly the band plays and how much reshuffling is done to the chairs on the deck, it is obvious that severe damage has already done. Barring some drastic measures, which do not exclude an immediate change of this most incompetent crew, we might as well fill up the lifeboats for this majestic vessel is on her way down. To barrow some lyrics from Gypsy’s 1986 calypso “Should we abandon ship or should we stay with it, Captain you tell us what to do”
G. Michael Reid
Citizen of the world