Reading through the news tonight, I am concerned that people are facing the courts for serious offences without legal counsel. I know our society is sick and tired of hearing about child rape or murder or attempted murder but our system ought to stand on principles of justice. It may feel satisfying to send an unrepresented man to jail for the maximum sentence, but have the thought occurred… what if that man is innocent? Are we trampling on the principle of justice that says “a hundred men may walk free as long as one innocent man never goes to jail’? Who is there to guide that defendant (still innocent until proven otherwise) through the legal system and advise him properly of his rights? What if one day I must stand without counsel; or my sibling; or a significant other? I imagine standing alone in front of a judge and jury (maybe no jury) and no knowledge of the system and no help to guide me through or help me fight and prove my innocence. Are we serving justice to the nation of Belize or are we once again preying on the vulnerable and weak? Eleanor Roosevelt once said that justice cannot be for one side alone, but for both, and Martin Luther King believed that a threat to justice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. I will never feel safe knowing the right person went to jail if that person was never given a proper defense. I want the real criminals to go to jail and spend the maximum sentence, not just the ones we can bully through our system. We need to stop cheating the justice system to win fights because as we railroad the poor through our justice system, we prove that we are a system failing horrendously. On the flip side, when the rich are suspected of egregious behavior, the system shows it failings by administering preferential justice. in matters of money, bar members step up to provide him/her with the best defense money can buy. It is a travesty of justice for any attorney to watch this unbalanced legal system continue unabated. Where are the attorneys to provide pro bono work? Do attorneys believe in a fair system? Is the bar association just apathetic? Or is justice only for those who can pay? I call on the bar association (especially the ones who hold degrees due to the generosity of the tax payer) to address the issue of poor citizens facing these serious offences undefended! Shame on the legal system! Shame on all those who only fight for causes when money and status are factored in! Where are the human rights people to cry bloody shame on our legal system? Where are the Christian defenders of the poor as Jesus commanded? Am I the only person who sees that each instance of imbalance in the legal system is a further tear on our already raveling fabric of justice?
March 8th, 2012 cannot get here quick enough! At least I know after March 7, 2012, the nonsense of politics will be over for a couple years. Mein I don’t think Twocanview fit too well into political party agenda. Every time Faye and myself open our mouths (type our thoughts ie), we are attacked and accused of political party agenda,( btw, my mind and prayers are on Faye today as she lay her younger brother Henry to rest). …I find when people try to shut you up, several reasons may explain this …You speak the truth that is offensive to their position; they want to control what you say; they realize people may be listening, reading and taking you seriously; maybe you need to shut up or maybe they do too. They will use intimidation, name calling, mockery and they call on their party supporters to do the same. These are the people who want you the voter to entrust them with the job of moving Belize forward. Try having an objective conversation anywhere on the internet…If your position does not fit a particular party, the party faithful attackers come out of the woodworks. It is almost disgraceful and definitely immature. I am always reminded that dissent is the highest form of patriotism. Speak up my Belizeans, challenge the status quo, don’t turn a blind eye to injustice, let your voices be heard, demand respect, respond respectfully, don’t be bullied into silence because silence gives consent to bullies to continue bullying! The internet and Facebook are changing the landscape of public opinion and I can see that many of these party animals have not adapted well to this new forum. Their normal boorish and manipulative ways becomes apparent with each comment and they forget their comments can be downloaded, shared, searched, quoted and witnessed by thousands of people in a matter of seconds. Censorship coming soon maybe?
The importance of citizen participation in a democracy cannot be underscored. Without the participation of its citizenry, the United States, arguably the best model in contemporary times for democracy would not have evolved to the status of world leadership today. Citizen participation is as old as democracy itself, it is a concept that suggest everyone should be allowed to participate in the decision making process. This concept sometimes referred to as primary democracy works well in relatively small political jurisdictions where all citizens can have a voice in decision making.
The 18th century political philosopher Jean Jacques Rousseau wrote the social contract in which one of his main theories was primary democracy. Rousseau wanted to eliminate all barriers between the people and their government. This would have left just the citizens and their government leaders. The citizens would decide what they wanted, and the political leaders would act accordingly. Additionally, the price of democracy is the ongoing pursuit of the common good by all the people. Alexis De Tocqueville gravely warned that unless individual citizens were regularly involved in the action of governing themselves self-government would pass from the scene. In short, citizen participation is the animating spirit and force in a society.
However, with the rise of the modern administrative state, citizens became increasingly isolated from the process that governed their lives. As a result, this led to the reform movement in the United States. Following the reform movement citizens began to play a more active role in the polity. Citizen participation includes organized interest groups, citizen advisory committees on specific issues, letter-writing campaigns, picketing, nonviolent demonstrations, testifying before local and federal government, sit ins, and town-hall meeting.
Consider the rungs of a ladder; political scientist Sherry Arnstein attempted to sort out the meaning of citizen participation according to an eight rungs ladder of citizen participation. The bottom two rungs of the ladder, which represents non-participation, were called manipulation and therapy. The middle three rungs indicate degrees of tokenism and were labeled informing, consultation, and placation. The top three rungs and the ideal model for citizen participation indicated degrees of citizen power including partnership, delegated power, and citizen control.
In the Caribbean, the late Maurice Bishop’s New Jewel Movement perhaps was the closest to genuine citizen participation as it relates to the Westminster model. The words of the late Maurice Bishop of Grenada, sound a hallowed and sincere tone, “democracy is not just voting for Twiddle Dee or Twiddle Dum every five years.” Bishop believed that for democracy and progress to be successful institutions must be created, in the form of mass organizations all over the country, such as zonal and parish councils through which the proletariat workers and farmers, the women, the youths, and the students would have an opportunity not only to express their views, but to contribute to the making of policy. The system of councils it must be noted, was an experimental system. In the history of Grenada and the Caribbean there were no precedents. It was certainly Bishop’s hoped that this system of councils at the local level, the parish level, and the village level would become institutionalized as organs of people’s power and eventually, grass-root democracy will form part of the normal expectations of all the people. The underlying assumption being that citizen participation should be an ongoing engaging process and not just an election year gimmick.
The Arnstein typology is important because it shows that not all forms of participation entail real power sharing between citizens and elected officials. It is also an excellent framework for understanding citizen participation. A recent example in Belize of this limited conceptualization or non-participation in essence at the middle three rungs of Arnstein’s typology was the recent debate over the 9th Amendment. Citizens were educated and co-opted into accepting the rationale behind Mr. Barrow’s regime plan for action. Citizens were given the appearance or rituals of participation; however, they were denied any real influence over the course of events. Instead of genuine citizen participation it was public relations. Citizen became mere functionaries constantly fed a diet of carefully selected information.
Typical of the way policy is formulated in Belize in an ad hoc, stop-gap manner no serious attempt was made to really educate and inform the public about the importance and longterm implication of such a policy to our national interest. In a country, where elected representatives speak and vote for their constituents with sometimes disastrous results this approach to policy implementation is democracy without the genuine participation of the people. Instead the debate was watered down to petty bickering and rabid partisan politics. In short, an otherwise important public policy initiative that should have transcended party politics turned into a circus of charges and counter charges. They effectively squandered the chance to transcend the issue past the stale partisan debate and rhetoric. Mr. Barrow’s regime produced and promoted information that was favorable to their ambitions and programs. Information or opinions that favored the amendment survived, whereas, those that were contrary were systematically rejected.
Historically, that has been the behavior of our elected leadership with every important public policy issue that has national security implications. Heads of Agreement Maritime Areas Act, and the 7th amendment debate comes to mind. Our leaders seem unable to really engage the people honestly. They much prefer to divide them along party lines thereby diluting the genuine participation of the polity. Something is clearly wrong with the way our society engages its citizens. For one thing, it has lead to too many shortsighted policies. For another, assumptions and deficiencies continue without serious challenges. In most cases, policy is formulated at the bottom two rungs of Arnstein’s ladder. As a result, many of those individuals dedicated to the highest level of public service have become cynical. It is a grave situation when a people resign their citizenship that citizen sinks further into apathy and anonymity.
These openly corrupt elected officials are the true enemy of long-term economic growth and sustainable development in any society. Corruption, being what it is, there is simply no UDP or PUP way to handle corruption. It must be done in a bi-partisan manner. Conversely, unbridled capitalism, with low wages, long hours, and exploited workers, excites social resentment, revives class warfare while infusing extremist with new life. Therefore, to move along constructive lines, capitalism must subordinate short-term plans and profits to such long-term social necessities as investment in education, public safety, the extension of healthcare, infrastructure development, rehabilitation, and redemption of our urban centers.
Of course, I am jousting with windmills here, capitalist simply are not likely to do this by themselves. Long-term perspectives demand public leadership and affirmative government. This type of citizen participation utilizing primary democracy for the ills of the society is very significant. These major political parties have become overly insensitive and remote while paying no attention to the will of people. They have to take notice that we cannot so readily be treated with contempt or taken for granted as their natural accomplices. Perhaps of greater importance is that citizen participation in decision making is the body of democracy itself. These political parties must learn that no government will again be able with impunity run Belize as if by fiat accompli or as a benign dictatorship with the blessings of the people. Short of out and out repression the politics of participation is hard to turn off. With increased self-definition as citizens future Belizean government will inevitably discover that the democratic process cannot afford to be static. More rigorous citizen participation will become the avenue for community self-expression as men and women demand a voice in affairs. If the process is thwarted, sooner or later there will be growing dissension from the electorate.
Thus, citizen participation, is more than just a categorical term for citizen power. It is the redistribution of power that enables the have-not citizens, presently excluded from the political and economic processes, to be deliberately included in the future. It is the strategy by which the have-nots join in determining how information is shared, goals and policies are set, tax resources are allocated, programs are operated, and benefits like contracts and patronage are parceled out. In short, it is the means by which they can induce significant societal reform that enables them to share in the benefits of the affluent society (i.e. a more equitable distribution of the economic pie).
How dare YOU question my Belizean nationality and nationalism. I am 100 percent born Belizean from Belizean parentage and ancestors of the Black slaves shackled in chains to cut down Mahogany, East Indian whe brought ova to the West Indies to replace slavery, Mayan whe land get rape and pillaged and the same white buccaneers and spaniard whe cause all dem damage. I dah Belize and Belize dah me! Before unu start to measure people Belizeanness based on geographic location; before shutting up objectivity fi party agenda..look pan yuself! You defend thieves and criminals..Yes the same politicians dem! If yu nuh have wa brand name or if yu pickney dah fi wa “nobody” man, I suggest yu start campaign fi wa betta Belize and stap being wa pawn! This game bigga than you and me! This game dah bout the wealth of Belize and who wants to control it..so since I nuh benefit eitherway…I demand accountability from my leaders! I will ask the tough question! I call dem pan the bullshit! and if ALL you could si is that yu party di get bash and CAN’T realize I LOVE Belize..then maybe u need fi go get yuself deprogrammed and go get reboot into wa sense of nationalism and what being a Belizean should mean!
Will not be posting Dingleberries for a while…Im sure you can understand that I am very busy with making arrangements for my brother’s funeral and just can’t really focus on politics…Aria I am sure will keep discussing relevant issues and while I may not comment or participate…I will be following. Just want to remind everybody the total value of the essay contest is around $1100. Please encourage our young people to write…the deadline has been extended since we will actually be in Belize
RIP Henry D Anderson March 26, 1976- February 20, 2012
“A national political campaign is better than the best circus ever heard of…” H. L. Mencken
Whoever coined the term “silly season” has understated the ridiculous fever pitch the Belize elections is unfolding into. For starters, I am personally sick and tired about hearing about Belize’s new “heroine” Schakron . We are celebrating a character that withheld vital information from her party, turned her entire party into a bunch of flip floppers instead of doing the “heroine” thing and stepping aside for a qualified candidate. Apparently political animals suffer from separation anxiety because at this juncture it is safe to say the PUP are flogging a dead horse, failing to let the Schakron issue go and with only two weeks to go before the elections. I am not sure anyone but diehard PUPs see Schakron as a victim, therefore, after singing to your choir, and the choir has responded in kind and not gaining one vote from the entire debacle and possibly turning off independent voters from the charade, PUP should be like me and never mention her name again.
Secondly, what is the purpose of defacing signs? How childish! Do signs really pose a threat? Do people look at a sign and think “OMG, I didn’t realize what a great party that was until I saw his sign! I will surely vote for X because their sign really did it for me” . Are we electing leaders or children? When I see sign defacement , I see an immature act and begin questioning what that person has to say that makes the other party feel so threatened.
And this is the biggie for me. Lying to voters! Just bold face, unapologetically, lying and misinforming the people, hoping to win votes. This behavior is a big turn off to me and many voters. Lying, cheating, stealing, withholding information and deception all speak volumes to a person’s character. If you will lie for something insignificant, imagine when you are in office and faced with tough decisions where character becomes key, what then?
Is asking our politicians to behave in a civil manner asking too much? This should be a time where voters can be confident that the information leaders are sharing are reliable; a time when our youths can learn how to compete fiercely and fairly; a time to teach our people about our constitution and political system; a time to realize that Belize’s dire conditions requires maturity beyond the present disgraceful display. Grow up politicians and future leaders! Earn respect and act in a respectful manner. You are an embarrassment to the youths, voters and the world. You are leaving behind images that are viewable throughout the world on YouTube, Facebook and online media sources. And just in case it didn’t occur to you, those footprints you are leaving behind will remain searchable forever!
My brother Henry D. Anderson passed away this morning from complications of diabetes. He was 35. I need a travel document to come home…anyone who can help please do and it would be much appreciated. Rest In Peace Henry…