Requiem for a fallen soldier

News of the death of former mayor of Belize City David Fonseca came as a shock to not the citizens whom he served for almost two decades in Belize City; but to the entire country and indeed, many in the international diplomatic corp. To say that David Fonseca was a “well-liked politician” would be understating things quite a bit.

Born William Henry David Fonseca, the man who was known to many as simply “David” served as mayor of Belize’s largest municipality for a record sixteen years. He was the first mayor to be directly elected and oversaw significant transformation in how the city is governed. Under his watch, the city got its first City Manager, its first Financial Manager and its first Traffic Department. He oversaw significant developments and application in the area of sanitation and left Belize City cleaner and more modern than ever. Unfortunately, David Fonseca was caught up in the political upheaval of 2004/2005 and left City Hall in 2006 under a cloud of controversy.

Shortly after the municipal elections of 2006 that saw David losing after winning a record three terms, in- coming Mayor Zenaida Moya embarked on a smear campaign and proceeded to dig up anything that she could find to tarnish her predecessor’s name and legacy. She expended much effort in trying to convince then Director of Public Prosecutions Kirk Anderson to charge David Fonseca for anything that he possibly could. She went as far as to file charges against David Fonseca for the crimes of Theft and Obtaining Property by Deception. Those charges were in relation to a number of checks that David Fonseca had been written but that had been returned to the Council for lack of funds. Notwithstanding that the former mayor had made good and repaid all monies owed but Moya was relentless and continued to push. Moya revealed to the media that while she knew that David had paid the Council all the money he received through salary advances and bounced cheques, nothing that was used under the social assistance program has been returned to the Council. This is interesting since, given the huge sums that now allocated for so-called “social assistance programs” under this administration, if maybe we should be demanding that those monies be paid back once they leave office.

In November of 2006, the DPP in a letter to the City Council informed Moya that “…no criminal charges or charges are warranted against ex-mayor Fonseca for any offense, vis-à-vis the complaint which has been made against him by your office.” The propaganda was effective however, and many who should have known better, loaned their voices to chorus of condemnation. David Fonseca had always insisted that the money spent under the social assistance program was not for his personal gain but to assist the poor. David was also, never one to turn anyone away because they did not belong to a preferred political party. Unlike the arrogant and pompous ass now serving in that office, David Fonseca was a people’s person and a special kind of politician.

The irony in all of that is that while she was pushing and pursuing charges against David Fonseca, Moya was busying engaging herself in some serious misgivings and misappropriations of her own. Who can forget when in August of 2008, Mark King took to the airwaves backed up by nine of ten city councilors to condemn her shenanigans; labeling her as the “most corrupt mayor ever”. King revealed that Moya had given bloated contracts to her brothers, salary advances to herself (which she never paid back, by the way), and had used City Council funds to pay for personal security at her house. Fortunately for Moya, she was followed into office by another UDP slate of councilors and has gotten the benefit of a media too compromised to criticize anything remotely connected to the United Democratic Party.

David Fonseca, unlike current Mayor Darrell Bradley was a full time mayor who spent countless hours doing City Council work. Bradley, on the other hand, spends most of his time in court and after just a couple months of being re-elected, has abandoned his mayoral obligations in a bid for higher office. Darrell Bradley has been hoisted on a high pedestal for having cemented many of the streets that David Fonseca had built. Bradley has not built one new street and many that were dug up and cemented were in relatively good shape and needed nothing more than adequate maintenance. I think that history will better define the differences between David Fonseca and any of these other two waste-of-time media hounds that have followed behind him.

During my time with the Police Department, I worked closely with David Fonseca and can attest to his tireless effort and dedication to the well-being of this city. If David was guilty of anything, it was in trying too hard to please an ungrateful constituency. David Fonseca conducted his own Wednesday clinics and would spend some long hours at City Hall. Many have recounted how he would stay late into the night until the last person in line was seen. Many were there for financial assistance and David gave until it hurt. David Fonseca was a humble man and did not live the lavish lifestyle of many of our current politicians. He did not spend the city’s finances on needless traveling, personal emoluments or gambling habits; he gave more than he had to the people and as a result, usually found himself in a financial bind.

I was friendly for a while, with a person who worked closely with David Fonseca and who was privy to the financial dealings at the council. I had asked in private confidentiality if she knew or believed David to be corrupt. She was categorical in the negative and explained that the council’s problems did not stem from corruption. She did complain that David could not say no and quite often overreached his ability to deliver. Yet, garbage collections were done, open lots were chopped and the city was kept clean. David Fonseca was, for all intents and purposes, a good mayor.

Interestingly enough, not once during his time of beleaguerment did David stand to defend himself against his accusers. He was quiet and mild mannered and I believe that he died broken hearted. He was broken hearted because despite having helped so many, so few came to his defense when he was assailed. Of all the people that visited him and got help, not one would stand and say, “Wait a minute this man is not all bad because he helped me when I was in need”. There are many, many people who very well could have done that but who stood by silently while this kind soul was crucified. It is a scenario that repeats itself regularly and given our nature as humans, will most likely continue ad infinitum.

No one knows the true pain of a person’s soul and the limit that is sometimes reached. David Fonseca is gone now, and while they can continue to lie about and against him, they can n long hurt his gentle soul. May GOD forgive him his sins, may he rest in peace and may he rise in glory on that day when we will all be called to judgment.

G. Michael Reid
Citizen of the world

Eulogy for David W. Fonseca

Read by Yasmin Shoman

Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote: “To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children…to leave the world a better place…to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.”

William David Fonseca, affectionately known as “Dave,” embodied all of this and so much more. He was born in Belize City on May 1st, 1954 to Rafael and Gertrude Fonseca. He attended Holy Redeemer Primary School and graduated from St. John’s College in 1972. He started his working career at Barclay’s Bank shortly after leaving school, a successful career which took him to Antigua at which time he served in a senior supervisory capacity.

In 1988, David entered electoral politics as a Belize City Councillor candidate on the People’s United Party slate. He was elected and would eventually serve three terms as Mayor of Belize City, making history as the first directly-elected Mayor. He was responsible for tremendous infrastructure development and social growth throughout Belize City.

Dave had a passion for sports and played any sport involving a ball. But his absolute favourites, all at which he excelled, were basketball, tennis and cycling. He was involved in track and field for many years, serving as Treasurer of the Track and Field Association. He coached the Barclays Bank volleyball, basketball and tennis teams. David was a loving and devoted son, father, brother and friend. He and his partner, Arilee, were fundamental figures in the homecare of his sister, Andrea, whom he loved dearly.

David was always quiet, but possessed great inner strength and was always the rock of the Fonseca family in times of tribulation. From 1999 to 2006, I had the great honour of working very closely with this outstanding leader. David Fonseca was truly the “People’s Mayor”. He was a dear family friend, a political mentor and the greatest humanitarian I have ever met. He devoted many years of his life to public service and undoubtedly left an indelible mark. His leadership was always respectful and inclusive. No matter how much stress he may have been enduring or how busy his schedule was, David always graciously made time for residents, staff, and colleagues who requested an audience with him. His humility and sincerity endeared him to all with whom he came in contact. A devoted servant of the people, David held clinic every Wednesday of the week to tend to residents who had requests or concerns. He refused to leave his office until he had seen everyone. And no one ever left dissatisfied because he ensured that he found a way to assist every single person. That was just who David Fonseca was! When he gave you his word, it was written in stone. Much of the social assistance that he rendered came out of his own pocket. I can personally attest to countless acts of kindness that the Mayor did for so many in need. One example of David’s great compassion was when he hired an amazing young Belizean man with special needs, Luke Jones, and paid him from his personal funds for almost two years until we could have afforded to put Luke on the City Council payroll. How many politicians would do this? Not many. But then again, David Fonseca was not your ordinary politician. He was an exceptionally kind and compassionate person.

What I admired tremendously was the great respect that Dave gave to each one of us when we would express our positions on various issues. He was a great and keen listener. If he disagreed with a point, he would gently and ever so kindly state his position, never once raising his voice or being condescending. David was always the consummate gentleman and always greeted everyone with a pleasant smile and kind words. His birthday, which was on Labour Day, was very special to all of us. He was so loved by the staff that they always insisted on spending his birthday with him. So David treated them to a special family day which would either be held at the beach or a park so we could all celebrate their hard work and dedication together. For David, it was not about HIS birthday. It was about the workers.

Though not very talkative, David did possess a very witty and mischievous sense of humour that captivated everyone in his midst. No matter how tense our caucus meetings sometimes were, you could count on him to break the tension with one of his jokes. He did not like conflict and drama. He was always very calm and was always the voice of reason; never overcome by emotion, he was always very practical. He truly was a Kipling man, able to walk with kings yet keep the common touch.

William David Fonseca is pre-deceased by his father, Rafael Fonseca; mother, Gertrude Fonseca; son, Joshua Fonseca; and sister, Andrea Cox. He will be sadly missed by his daughter, Margot Fonseca Krahn, and her mother, Therese Fonseca; daughter, Nikita Fonseca; sons Vito Fonseca, Geovanni and Alfonso Martinez, Stuart Cruz, and their mother, Yolanda Fonseca; his devoted partner, Arilee Evans; grandchildren: Jasmine, Emmee, Ellie, Aubrey and Jairo; brothers, Ralph and Mark Fonseca; sister, Lillian Fonseca-Burgos; sisters-in-law, Donna and Loly Fonseca; brother-in-law, Rick Burgos; uncle, William “Chichi” Fonseca; aunt, Bernice Gonzalez; special cousins, Francis Fonseca, and Lisa and Phil Gonzalez; and a host of other relatives and friends.

Our beloved Mayor, perhaps you did not realize just how many lives and hearts you touched through your kind words and deeds. There will never be another like you. My heart is heavy, but I find comfort in knowing you are now at peace. Rest well, my dear friend. You have left Belize City a better place…you have succeeded!