Am I the only person who is dumbfounded by our level of corruption and how open and acceptable it has become? The new political proposal seems to resonate a message of “Never mind that we are corrupted, the other party is even worse than us“ .The major political parties are shameless and pathetic in their nonchalant attitude towards corruption. Yesterday, I read where someone tried to justify the measurement of corruption based on a dollar amount. I have read citizens justifying their choice of party saying that “their party is not as corrupted, or better the devil you know, or lesser of two evils.”
It signals to me that the apathy and sickness of corruption has invaded every crevice of society, even the thinking of the average citizen. (whatever citizenship means these days) We are in desperate need of a cure. The parties in Belize have successful convinced the Belizean population that corruption is inevitable therefore accept it; additionally the parties have seemingly surrendered to this conclusion by not addressing the issue of corruption as a national crisis. Recently, polls have been suggesting or attempting to convince the Belizean population that Belizeans do not care about corruption. I am not convinced.
My hope is that Belizeans begin demanding accountability for the rape of their taxes at the pleasure of elected officials and the disgraceful undermining of our citizenship for votes. I may be inclined to believe that corruption must be legal right? It must be! It is openly discussed, and admitted by our politicians; they justify or exempt their behavior based on the corruption of the other party. The last two Prime Ministers of Belize are prominent attorneys and senior members of the Bar Association, so there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that corruption MUST be legal. As a citizen, my instinctive approach is to raise hell and demand laws to offset this blatant and discouraging behavior of our elected officials.
So I decided to take a trip through The Laws of Belize Criminal Code 101, to see if laws exist to offset this corruptive environment, before I clumsily climbed on my rostrum. I didn’t expect to see any anti corruption laws. I mean our parties are operating on the premise of less corrupted. Additionally, an international journalist correlated our corruption to poverty ( http://p.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/jan/16/tale-of-two-small-countries ). So if we all know corruption is the problem and it has become so ostentatious that even an international observer can see it and was compelled to write about it, I figured if I could advocate for strong laws, maybe it would deter our politicians and public officers from such contemptuous and scandalous behavior. Right?
I was stupefied and confused by the laws I found in our criminal code. Turns out that corruption is illegal in Belize and in some instances punishable by imprisonment of up to ten (10) years. Surely these major political parties don’t know this? But why wouldn’t they? They are dominated by prominent and senior attorneys of the Bar Association of Belize. They have been the Legislature for the past 30 years and they have in fact written these laws themselves. So now my anguish grows and my anger rises…not only are politicians blatantly corrupted, they have no regard for our laws in Belize. Winning elections and governing in Belize have become an official pillage on the tax payers money at the pleasure of the ruling party.
The Criminal code 101 of the Laws of Belize Section 139 (1) defines Theft as “ a person who by ANY deception [(can be defined as misleading, deceit, cheating, circumvention)] dishonestly appropriates property belonging to another [tax payers] with the intention of permanently depriving the other [tax payer] of it.” Theft does not mention the dollar amount, because a thief is a thief! If he steals one dollar he will surely steal a million dollars.
The Criminal Code which can be located at http://www.belizelaw.org/lawadmin/ also specifically targets corruption of public officers and also targets those who corrupts public officers and voters (see Sec 139-146, 155-158, 296-) . Take a personal tour, my Belizean people and see how many laws are broken by the voters, public officers, politicians and bar members in Belize. We are all partners in this moral, social and legal decline in Belize. Obviously calling on the Attorney General, Minister of Police, Commissioner of Police and Director of Public Prosecution to investigate and prosecute our politicians and government officials is a monumental waste of time, especially since they serve at the pleasure of the government of the day. So what happens when we have laws that are not enforced, rabid corruption and no political will to address it? Justice can never be achieved in a country that selectively enforces laws and the culture of lawlessness will continue to corrode our jewel until we say NO MORE!
My mom use to tell me, corruption begins with the first act and with each act you begin to convince yourself that such behavior is acceptable and eventually you are so corrupted you can no longer identify it. The parents who allows their children to walk into their homes with items they didn’t purchase for that child is contributing to corruption. The public officer who accepts money for services the tax payer is paying for, is contributing to corruption, the voter who accepts money in exchange for votes is contributing to corruption. The politician who uses his office for pecuniary gain is contributing to corruption. The judiciary that discriminately distributes justice is contributing to corruption. The entire moral fabric of our country is deteriorating. The dollar amount does not make corruption Belize…Corruption is our deplorable deeds and our omission to address it and our attempt to justify it.