We Need A New Constitution

Posted By: Marty

We Need A New Constitution - 11/28/13 11:04 AM

You can’t have a house on a sinking foundation and you would never build a new house on one right? So then why are we ignoring the fact that our Constitution is a sinking foundation that needs to go?

Example # 1:
On November 26, 2013 the Government of Belize held a House Meeting. After this meeting the media reported that Hon. John Saldivar secured an approval from the Prime Minister for $150,000 to assist the Belmopan City Council with much needed repairs to the streets of Belmopan.

If you study the Belize Constitution carefully you will find that Proviso to Section 16 (Non-Discrimination based upon race, religion, political persuasion, sex, etc.) expressly states that the Non-Discrimination Provision under Section 16 shall NOT apply to budgetary allocations under the National Budget. Therefore, allowing the ruling Government, more so the Prime Minister, unbridled power to discriminate against, for example, Area Representatives from the opposition party, thus leaving them hamstrung by not allocating financial resources to their constituency under the National Budget.

This is one of the main mechanism embedded in our antiquated, carbon copied Constitution, that gives unbridled control to the ruling Government. It has been used with precision to manipulate constituencies and thus the Belizean people. Ultimately, it is always the People that suffers, since, if an Area Representative, usually of the opposition party, do not get the financial resources they need, they cannot do much to help the people in their constituency, which leads to disgruntlement, allowing the controlling party to use this to their advantage during election time.

Is this true proportional representation of the People? Do the People in a constituency really have a voice in the House of Representatives? My answer to these questions: NO!

Example # 2:
On November 26, 2013 the media reported that over 14 Million Belize dollars will be spent on Youth and Community Transformation in challenged Belize City neighborhoods. The Government of Belize (GOB), through the Ministry of Human Development, Social Transformation and Poverty Alleviation, and with financial assistance from the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), will be implementing a project that seeks to reduce vulnerability of children and youth to crime and gang membership in the Collet, Lake Independence, Pickstock and Port Loyola divisions of Belize City.

Again, this shows the unbridled power Proviso to section 16 of the Constitution gives the ruling Government. Since the gerrymandering of the constituent districts in Belize centralizes power in Belize City, it is no surprise that all the resources garnered locally thru all forms of taxation and thru financial loans and aids from abroad, are funneled into these particular areas, and the rest of the country seems to get the crumbs, if there is any left.

What happens to the youths in the rest of the country? What happens to the youths in Southern Belize, who live in the poorest constituencies in the country? Is this true proportional representation of the People? Do the People in a constituency really have a voice in the House of Representatives? My answer to these questions: NO!

The examples I have pointed out are just for this week. If you pay attention, there are thousands of examples of the unbridled power our current Constitution gives our Government, and why we need a true Constitutional Reform, by the People, for the People.

A true democratic country would have true proportional representation, inclusive of the appropriate National Budgetary Allocation and all other necessary mechanisms, enshrined in its Constitution. Belize’s current Constitution does the complete opposite.

A Constitution, by definition, is there to restrict the power that the Government has over the nation and the people. Belize’s Constitution, on the contrary, gives Government unbridled power. Proviso to section 16 of the Constitution is just one of many examples of this fact, and Amendment 9 was the proverbial nail in the coffin.

It has become more than blatantly obvious to me that we, the People of Belize along with our Government, are attempting to fix a house that is sitting on a rotted, dilapidated, antiquated foundation – our current Constitution. If we really want positive change in this country, where the goodwill of all People are first and foremost, we need a brand new Constitution. We need a Constitution where it is enshrined that the people have the last and final say. True People Power. For this to happen the People must demand a Constitutional Reform.

“I believe only in the power of the people. That was my experience in my own region, a single province, the importance of local power. And now, with all that has happened in Bolivia, I have seen the importance of the power of a whole people, of a whole nation. For those of us who believe it important to defend humanity, the best contribution we can make is to help create that popular power. This happens when we check our personal interests with those of the group. Sometimes, we commit to the social movements in order to win power. We need to be led by the people, not use or manipulate them. ” Evo Morales, incumbent President of Bolivia.

Warm Regards,

Charles Leslie Jr.
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