European Deception – Argument for reparations in pictures by: Aria Lightfoot


Some of the biggest European lies that persist today:

  1. You are natives/inferior and need protection if you are not white-
  2. Natives/indigenous people were/are primitive
  3. Natives need to be saved by Jesus Christ
  4. Brown, Yellow and Black people are minorities
  5. Non-whites are genetically predisposed to certain characteristics and behaviors
  6. History Books of the world.
  7. The world was disconnected tribes of people living in isolation until Europe connected it.

Europeans systematically  destroyed  worldwide cultures, identities and reprogrammed cultures to stay in a  present condition of fear, victim hood and despair where people cannot see the atrocities committed and celebrated in today’s labels such as “First World”, “G20”, “Advanced”, “Superior” ” Weapons of Mass Power” .

England used a celebratory Chinese invention,  gun power,  to conquer and dominate the world.  European crimes and atrocities against humanity/nations and cultures  are beyond anything one can phantom.

Pictures below are taken from the world’s “ancient architectures” . As you can see, cultures of “ancient” civilization were far from primitive. They were superior in architecture, and also in music, writing and scientific discovery.  The Maya Calendar, Math and Astronomy, even though it predated the “discovery of the world being round” and discovery of planets and solar system, is accurate as today’s calendars and discoveries.

I theorize Europeans “discovered”  the “New” World during invasions of Africa where they gathered stories of great wealthy civilizations in other parts of the world. Europeans may have forced  “primitive” seamen and trading partners who traded with Africa,India, Asia Central/South America to show them a sea route where the wealth originated.  In Europe’s insatiable greed to continue their path of expansionism, they offered commissions to many people to find the sea route to wealth; with Christopher Columbus being the first European to make the “discovery” . Once colonization occurred, “primitive” cultures’ knowledge, wealth and history were abnegated and everything we know from there became rewritten European lies to hide merciless bloodshed,  terrorism, genocide, theft, and rape….that make Europe and by extension, the USA wealthy today.

When Africa and the “New” world  were invaded by Europeans,  books were burned, ideas stolen, wealth stolen,  women raped, cultures destroyed  and coincidentally Europe went thru a renaissance period of discovery.  A sudden burst of new ideas, culture, art and buildings.

I find it hard to  believe that Columbus and Europeans were welcomed with open arms by tribes without a familiar face on board invading ships. I find it hard to believe the designs and buildings were so similar for disconnected cultures;  I find it hard to believe Christoper Columbus just happen upon the “New” world by accident; I find it hard to believe Spain would pay for an expensive trip without proof of the new world; I find it hard to believe Europe just miraculously went thru an enlightenment period;  I find European history books  hard to believe when the pictures tell a different story of a connected world.

Pictures below are of ancient architectures in: Africa; Middle East; India;  Australia;  South America;  Central America; Asia

Let who have eyes see….Are you willing to challenge indoctrination?

 

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ancient 2ancient-4.jpgancient-3.jpgancient 4ancient 5ancient 6ancient 8ancient 10Ancient 9ancient 10ancient 11ancient 12ancient 13ancient 14ancient 15ancient 16ancient 17ancient 18ancient-19.jpgancient 20ancient 21ancient 22ancient 23ancient 26ancient-27.jpgancient 28ancient 29

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Ancient Europeans ancient 30

ancient 31

 

 

 

 

A Tale Of Two Cities – Belize City and Belmopan Municipal Election 2018 -analysis by Aria Lightfoot


Aria

 “…the only thing we saw from the previous council are the good streets that we are killed on…” Micah Goodin, newly elected Belize City Councilor

 

Elections are over in Belize and the results were shocking with aftershocks yet to follow.  While I believed that United Democratic Party would lose ground in the municipal election, I did not anticipate such an astonishing defeat in the old capital. Only one person, Verlene Pitts, correctly predicted the city loss.  I personally thought the city would yield a split council.   The United Democratic Party was unable to retain a single city council seat in a political powerhouse and in what appeared to be a hard-working council. The seemingly improbably defeat exposed severe weaknesses in several UDP strong hold Belize City constituencies, making the silent voter who sat out the municipal elections an untapped power punch; 49% of city residents did not vote.  More people sat out elections in the city than determined the margin of winners.

So, what happened?

While the Prime Minister highlighted some obvious weaknesses, his analysis did not go deep enough because he probably did not want to publicly criticize the missteps and failures of the UDP and obviously he did not want to build on the People’s United Party momentum; PUP finally broke the political barriers that kept them in exile from any significant political leadership for more than ten years;  and to the political observer, PUP won Belize city without much fanfare, fireworks and candidate name recognition.

The UDP blamed voter fatigue, outspending, not enough men on the ground challenging key positions etc., but the party will need to take an insightful analysis as how they are perceived by the voters.

Here are my observations as an arm chair analyst/ Facebook commentator I was coined by OJ and other members of the UDP. There were many factors that made this loss predictive for those willing to take an unbiased look….

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The United Democratic Party Belize City campaign team disregarded an important aspect in every successful campaign- the personal people aspect. The UDP known supporters and campaigners were publicly abusive and dismissive; in fact, the negative perceptions may not be from the candidates themselves, just their entourage of friends and cronies feasting at the trough of the tax payer.  The chosen few members operate like a popular teenage cliché, showcasing their access and money; sometimes taking grand trips around the world and plastering it all over social media thinking that social media likes equal political popularity. Some of the supporters were online bullies and while they were dominant in many online conversations; many spent an enormous amount of time defending, accusing and pointing fingers, but spent little time listening, reading, analyzing, or being sympathetic to the concerns raised.

There were hundreds of conversations happening daily in groups with as many as 100K followers. These UDP operatives used social media to brag within a small political microscope and appeared to voters that their lifestyles were tax payer sponsored.  The perception created a very negative perception.  Social Media has evolved into a very important and powerful device in politics. Social media is big in Belize City. Most city residents have access to social media, regardless of their economic conditions.  Social media is a transformative and compelling tool because the communication is extensive, the messaging is instant, the audience is substantial, and the message can be recycled in many ways and can always be presented as current. According to Cornell University’s Steven Strogatz, social media sites can make it more difficult for us to distinguish between the meaningful relationships we foster in the real world, and the numerous casual relationships formed through social media. Someone who misunderstands this, can magnify the perception of their political party either positively or negatively. The misconceptions can also mislead one into thinking that their message is resonating.  Arguably the perception of the Belize city political elites left much to be desired.

Social media also affords the unique ability to organize, energize and connect. Discussions are real time, constant and telling of the perceptions of the average person.  The UDP operatives misused social media and media in this campaign.  On many issues they dominated the dialogue but were tone deaf to the beat of the city. The “optics” were horrible in a city overwhelmed with poverty and crime.

Many UDP supporters will attest that their support of the United Democratic Party begins and ends with the Hon. Dean Barrow and his loud powerful stance against corruption where he promised to address it whenever and wherever it appeared. When PUP demitted office, not even money could buy the support of voters because the corruption and disregard for the common man left an anger in the society that played out for over ten years.  Now in 2018, UDP Belize City find themselves pretty much in the same scenario. The people of Belize are over corruption, excuses for corruption, “lack of proof” of corruption and failure to tackle systematic failures that allow corruption to thrive. One UDP confided that she did not vote because she refuses to vote anymore for the lesser of two evils. The Boots Martinez controversy and Montero controversy weighed heavily on citizens who are truly fed up with corruption.  PUP, at their own peril, defended the decision of the new city council’s appointment of Joe Coye to head of the transition team.

The failure of the United Democratic Party to effectively address the vicious crime rate in Belize City, failure to acknowledge and sympathize with parents of dead babies was callous. I can’t imagine who advised the government to take a silent approach on this issue.  The head in the sand approach no longer works in a social media era. In times of despair and hopelessness, people look to leadership for support.  The only person publicly offering condolences was the leader of the opposition. The Prime Minister and every UDP Minister who represented these divisions silence was deafening. If anyone saw the video of one young man with his daughter who expressed outrage over the death of the 17month baby, would have clued anyone into the anger brewing in the city. The man in the video was visibly enraged, his anger was powerful, raw and scary.

The removal of Police Officer Chester from the City for Vidal was a poor decision. Chester along with Nuri Muhammad and Diane Finnegan had brokered a fragile peace among gang members in Belize City and with the removal of Chester, Vidal ushered in a brute force police dominance. Vidal was less sympathetic to gang members and the videos of police brutality flooded social media.  I also believe that the murder of popular barber Fareed Ahmed for which a police officer was arrested, and the deteriorated relationship with police and the citizenry added to the perception that there was no love for the affected citizens by the political elites.   The PUP also used effective propaganda videos showing powerful ministers giving interviews that the crime rate only affected a certain area; suggesting that the crime rate was not a big issue for them.

The UDP Belize City political commercials were silly, playful, corruption deflection, finger pointing and completely aloof and insensitive to the daily struggles of the citizens especially amid a crime spree and a murder rate that was as high as one murder every 42 hours. The UDP wanted the citizenry to examine the levels of corruption against a PUP government that has not been in power for over ten years. The argument was old, and it created an impression that UDP was now okay with corruption if it wasn’t as bad as PUP’s corruption.

UDP had a popular outgoing mayor with a constituency bigger than any other elected official in the country of Belize, Yet Mayor Bradley was practically invisible during the campaigning process. The people of Belize, regardless of political persuasion loved Mayor Bradley, he created a business like, corruption free environment; but he was treated at arms -length.  Bradley is a good candidate for leadership in the party, not necessarily party leader yet, but instead of a political snob, why not bring him to the forefront, offer him a secure division such as Dean Barrow’s division or even Boots or Elrington…begin grooming him for future leadership. Mayor Bradley should have been effectively utilized to see if he could be effective nationally as he is for the municipal elections. When UDP treats UDP with disdain, it creates even less public trust and love for the party.  The perception is “if they will treat their own in that manner, what will they do to us”.

UDP also has a very poor relationship with their supporters and allow rabid party supporters to further undermine the rapport.   It appears UDP opts for a transactional pay to play relationships and have not forged deep committed relationships like the party of the past. The George Price generation of die- hard support and loyalty voters are diminishing, which makes the swing vote population more powerful than ever.  The youths are less impressed with status quo.  Politicians today are under complete scrutiny and people are beginning to understand their power.  Political apathy and distrust grows and as such, enough was not done to convince the voter that they were the only choice; evident in the numbers that voted against the UDP and those who sat out the elections; numbers that could easily flip outcome for either party in the general elections.

Another problem, much like the pre-2008 PUP, too many family members are intertwined in the middle of party business making unbiased analysis near impossible.  The family members visibility in powerful positions adds to the perception of a few beneficiaries within the party. The image of political elitism need to be addressed.

The UDP will need to go back to the drawing board and address these deficiencies before going into a national election. UDP is also headed for a leadership change and the party will need to start making effective, succinct and expeditious changes to prepare for 2020.  Belize City will be far more important for a national election win.

What was PUP’s formula for success in the City?

The People’s United Party formula was easy.  They spent less time show timing and more time grass root campaigning. PUP members were engaged online but from the perspective of activists. They engaged the online community, promoted the issues of concern and push propaganda in effective ways.  They were able to deflect the corruption charges with fresh new blood in the party. PUP recruited the salt of the earth Belize City candidates who were already activist, community organizers, health care providers and candidates from the south side Belize.  The PUP candidates were people who overcame their own obstacles of poverty and rose to leadership. The PUP candidates were credible to the citizenry.

Another effective tool by the PUP was to turn the attention from the true responsibilities of the city council, which involves maintaining the city to a national conversation around crime and corruption.  The outgoing UDP city council did an excellent job maintaining the city and PUP had nothing to compare to it. When PUP changed the conversation, UDP did not effectively redirect the conversation to the responsibilities of the city, choosing instead to wage a finger pointing corruption war which only reflected on UDP as the party in power.

The Opposition Leader Johnny Briceno also brought forth instances of corruption by Belize City Minister Boots Martinez; all indications of the last general elections, Boots and Elrignton were weak candidates winning their divisions by small margins. The powerhouse Ashcroft owned entity of Channel 5 helped PUP make the argument credible. Channel 5 focused on crime and   hammered on Elrington making multiple faux pas remarks around growing concerns of Guatemala; and taking an aloof approach to crime and policing for which he is in charge.  The reporting on Boots accusation of corruption made a very strong case of UDP’s disregard for supporters.  Boots accusation was powerful because his accuser indicated an uncompassionate Boots, who uses his assistant to gain access to his bank account without any reward. The assistant publicly admitting to laundering money through his bank account with 100% of the proceeds going to Boots.  The corruption charges added to the credence to a perception that UDP uses supporters for their own selfish intentions.  This narrative was used by many PUP operatives.  “Only a few benefits under the UDP”.

PUP made inroads during the midterm elections and have ignited their base into action. PUP however already made a serious misstep with the controversial pick of Coye. The pick created controversy and in old political style, PUP defended the decision.  This misstep is indicative of why the silent vote remains powerful as they sit and wait to see which party will rise to the expectations of the electorate.

As I am not as familiar with the North and South politics, I will give a tale of two cities, Belmopan and Belize City.

Contrasting Belmopan UDP win/PUP loss vs Belize City  PUP win/UDP loss- Khalid is a well-liked mayor.  He is humble, respectful, accessible and he works. John and Khalid have a good working relationship and John works his division and he adapts quickly and responds effectively to criticism. John and Khalid keep a relatively low social media presence, John only to address and promote Belmopan events or to address controversies. At one point, John had the same rabid supporters around him, but I think the public discontent was heard and that problem was seemingly addressed. The offenders have taken on a less social media presence.  John can be described as passionate and zealous about his politics, seemed to have matured over the years and have worked the division thru losses and wins. He is impressive and politically astute, because he understands the political constituency and respond efficiently and competently to the electorate. John told me he would bring home all his candidates and he was right. I thought Anna departure would hurt the party initially, but that was quickly squashed which did not allow the negative to spill out into the political arena for too long.

PUP did not present a good Belmopan team. PUP brought the same message to Belmopan that was effective in Belize City, but the cities are not plagued with the same problems. PUP failed to use the same formula that was effective in the city. The PUP aspirants were relatively newcomers to the Belmopan community except for JB Wade and Brian Mira. The successful Belmopan City Council, much like the Belize City council winning team, have salt of the earth credible residents Similarly, they spent a lot of time grass root campaigning and limited their social media to campaign messaging and working messages. You did not see one Belmopan political aspirant using social media to brag about their access or success.  Most of the messages were conservative and thankful.  I also believe that Mayor Belisle has softened up John’s image quite a bit. The popular and humble mayor is well spoken, hard worker and well liked and have forged a working partnership with John; that working relationship is beneficial to the Belmopan residents.  Things can be done when the city council and the area representatives are from the same party.  The Belmopan team through trial and error understands that relationship building is a key component for continued political success.

While there is still discontent in Belmopan as with any community, the discontent is nowhere close to Belize City.  As a city, Belmopan is thriving. There is less crime; the poor are not in destitute and drug infested conditions. Belmopan residents are also able to transition out of poverty, more diversity, more access to NGOs, Embassy contributions, scholarships, good schools, living spaces and a very dynamic community vested in their own future. The Belmopan voter is far less dependent on government to handouts. Hence Belize City messaging is meaningless in Belmopan.

What’s Next?

While the United Democratic did lose the biggest constituency, there were significant wins in Central and Southern Belize and while PUP did lose the Central and Southern Belize, they made significant wins in the North, Belize City and made significant impact in San Pedro.  PUP and UDP will see leadership challenges and how that plays out will have a significant impact on the national elections.

Both parties will need to realistically examine their present state and work thru their successes and failures; Parties will need to take a serve the people approach and tone down their rabid supporters who see politics as a blood sport winner takes all game.  Politics have greatly evolved in Belize and each election brings in new voters with different expectations. People want a stake in their future and the messaging will be very important going forward.  Leadership will also play an important role in how people perceive political parties.  Political parties must begin the arduous process of dropping dead weight and attracting the young and vibrant talent to their pool. The question of corruption can no longer be deflected. The people of Belize want opportunity, access, security and corruption free government.  The municipal election reminded both political parties who are really in charge. Democracy was vibrant, the people spoke or remained silent.  Political parties must be mindful that a much bigger election is upon us and that election will awaken a silent powerful vote.  Who will hear and respond?

No Justice No Peace by: Aria Lightfoot


Aria

Aria Lightfoot

I have not written about Belize for almost a year because it was getting frustrating to see the problems and being helpless in bridging solutions. It is disheartening to know that our little Belize has no value for human life.

Murder or attempted murder is now a daily pastime in Belize. I joined a Belize WhatsApp news group and it is scary to think that people are being gunned down or stabbed daily.  Murder is so rampant that the media and police can no longer dedicate more than a few days and only to the most sensational ones. Life is meaningless that there is no pause, reflection or anger except for the meaningless condolences messages that do not translate into effective advocacy or motivate any action, not even from the victims’ families.

I feel like Belizeans are a bunch of sheep waiting and expecting to be slaughtered.  Belizeans have no concept of justice, accountability, right nor wrong. We are shallow, consumer driven with no moral compass.  God in Belize is used for present-day judgment, social tea parties, inaction and after life reward.  Belizeans seems to have lost their instinct for self-preservation, community and generational survival.

Belize has seen over 4000 citizens brutally murdered with absolutely no closure, no prosecutions and no active investigations. A surplus of psychopathic killers is getting a thrill terrorizing and murdering the citizenry.  The cancer is spreading so fast that people now feel that the police are carrying out targeted murders.  Many of the officers who are there to serve and protect are power drunk making crucial decision over citizens’ lives, death and freedom with no regard for due process or justice.

We see a system that does not adjust to offset loophole laws that make criminals walk; we see attorneys making a mockery of the criminal legal system; criminals walk away from egregious acts based on trifling technicalities; we have a DPP with job security, in place now for over a decade; and piss poor job performance of 3-5% conviction rate.  We see no solutions from the guardians of our laws because -let’s face it – we have no value for life or love of our fellow Belizeans.   We are a cold, callous, soulless people in love with brand name everything,  we love partying, we hate rules therefore actively participating in our own genocide.

Do you recall the video of the emaciated polar bear? The gut wrenching viral picture of a helpless bear on the brink of death and no solutions to solve the immediate issues of Global Warming destroying his environment?  That picture is reminiscent of Justice in Belize. We see it dying, we know what is killing justice, but we are helpless with no will to solve it.

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it is hard to remain focus on anyone murder because the numbers are astronomical.  We are three days into the New year and there has already been three murders. We are in a state of paralysis.  Recently Caleb shared a list with me of 33 gay men who have been murdered in Belize.  The method of murder ranges from strangulation, multiple stab wounds, shooting and physically beaten to death. The list is reflective of the savagery that has befallen our society.  Even sadder and likely because of the overwhelming murder rate, people dismiss victims of murders due to their sexual orientation, domestic relationship and gang affiliated murders. Belizeans have convinced themselves that once they stay away from the categories listed above, they will remain safe.  Sadly, we seem clueless of the high incidence of murder by hire, robbery; burglary, being an unfortunate witness, drunk driving (yes, they are murderers too).

Today I listened to the father of Fareed Ahmad express anger by calling the accused “souwa” and some people were offended by his use of words to describe the accused murderer of his son;  rather than being offended by the murder itself; rather than being offended by the perception of police involvement, rather than being offended that a young productive young man is dead; rather than being offended that the victim leaves behind young children; rather than being offended by innocent death; rather than offended that the name of the victim is being tarnished to protect the guilty.

Belizeans get offended over blue Santa Claus, beauty queen contests, Facebook posts and political tomfoolery …but no demand for Justice and no expectation of Justice. Until we purse Justice and value the life of every citizen there will be absolutely No peace.  Every single Belizean life matter and every Belizean life is at stake.

Guatemala waits for us to  complete our self-destruction….

 

 

 

Open Letter to the Prime Minister of Belize and Leader of the Opposition


 

OPEN LETTER TO THE PRIME MINISTER OF BELIZE

AND LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION

 

June 16, 2017

 

The Rt. Honorable, Dean Barrow, Prime Minister

The Honorable, Johnny Briceno, Leader of the Opposition

Belmopan, Belize

 

Dear Sirs,

 

Belizean Citizens Abroad (BCA) is an organization committed to bringing together Belizeans living abroad in a non-partisan manner. Our goal is to empower and strengthen the democracy of Belize by working with ALL Belizeans at home as well as the Government of Belize on solutions and issues of concern to the community of Belizeans living overseas. As such, we are currently advocating for the equal rights of born Belizeans with dual citizenship.

We are asking for bi-partisan support for an amendment bill to remove the discriminatory provisions in our Constitution limiting the citizenship rights of born Belizeans who gain dual nationality and to reintroduce the same amendments as section 4 and 5 of the BELIZE CONSTITUTION (SEVENTH AMENDMENT) ACT, 2009 that purported to amend Sec 58(1) and 63(1) of the Belize Constitution. These discriminatory provisions in our Constitution limit the POLITICAL rights of born Belizeans and hamper our ability to solve many of the problems that Belize face in an ever-changing globalized world.

The Constitution of Belize contradicts the idealism of equal rights and equal protection under the law by establishing underclasses of citizenship.  Furthermore, the Constitution is in contravention of the very idea of human rights.  According to the United Nations Human Rights International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights Article 25 – every citizen shall have a right to take part in the conduct of public affairs and to vote and be elected in periodic elections.

It is a travesty that foreign-born individuals who become Belizean dual citizens have more rights than born Belizeans who gain an additional citizenship.  This literally means that born Belizeans are second-class citizens in our own country.  Currently, there are thousands of born Guatemalans who have acquired Belizean citizenship enjoying more rights than born Belizeans who have acquired dual nationality.  This is so even though our Constitution bars Belizean citizenship to members of any country that claims Belize.  How can it be that despite a clear constitutional prohibition, a born Guatemalan with dual Belizean citizenship status can become Prime Minister, set policies, hold national decision-making positions determining Belize’s future, but a born Belizean with “dual citizenship” cannot?

BCA is ready and willing to work with both the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition to table a historic, bi-partisan legislation to remove sections of the Constitution that limit rights for born Belizeans. We further ask that individuals originating from any country that claims any part of Belize be prohibited from attaining Belizean citizenship with only few, if any, exceptions. BCA strongly believes that the ministerial discretion granting citizenship to members of countries that claim Belize should be restricted with much clearer and narrower guidelines.

Finally, we urge Belizeans at home and in the diaspora to contact their respective Area Representatives and encourage them to support a national bi-partisan effort to amend the Constitution of Belize protecting the equal rights of ALL born Belizeans.

Respectfully,

Belizean Citizens Abroad
Email: belizeansabroad@gmail.com

 

President: Mario Lara

Vice President: Joseph Guerrero

Treasurer: Al Smith

Communication Director: Debbie Curling

Secretary: Aria Lightfoot

A Belizean Diaspora Perspective By: Debbie Curling


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Debbie Curling 

Belizeans at home and abroad must begin to realize that despite the fact that time, space and location separates us, we have a shared identity and culture that makes us stronger together than separately. REMEMBERING is what heals: remembering our cultural traditions, our enthusiasm for sports, our passion for politics, our very good food, our Belizean music in all its varieties, our childhood proclivity for hopping fences to steal mangoes and craboo, riding our bikes to fetch buckets of water at the pipe stand, and many more. Oh yes! And playing bruk makachistah, bruk me bak!

Funnily enough bruk makachistah is full of symbolism and meaning as it applies to our Belizean cultural heritage, personalities, attitudes, and our strength in the face of adversity. With hands akimbo and chest pumping, the entire game, if you will, is premised on defiance and a dare; a challenge that if you think you can bruk my bak, try it! The words and imagery signify our spirited, Belizean assertiveness, unafraid to face down a bully because we’ll duke it out fistycuffs, your mother will come to my mother’s house, we’ll both get our rear ends belted, and eventually after our egos have settled down, we’ll move on to becoming friends again. Times have changed I know, but this is the Belize WE know, WE love, and WE share…immigrants will come and go, but WE know OUR identity and WE know OUR culture!

Belizeans share so many great experiences along with a strong and proud identity so why this division, this love/hate relationship, between us: based Belizeans vs. diaspora Belizeans? the Diaspora feel invisible, resented and unwanted to those at home and those at home feel abandoned, angry and resentful for being left behind “to suffah.” If we are to overcome this great divide that separates us, we must critically interrogate both perspectives to get a deeper understanding of the root causes. Understanding the psychology of abandonment is very important to the discourse if we are to heal our wounds and start fresh.

So what exactly is abandonment? According to J. Ray Rice, M.S.W., who has written several self-help books on the issue, “Abandonment is emotions, feelings, and acts that leave us with feelings, or experience of alienation, loss, betrayal, desertion, separation and segregation […]. These experiences or issues left unresolved affect our ability to reason, bond, trust, love, communicate, problem-solve […] respect the rights of all and live with our neighbors in peace.” http://blog.itsallaboutabandonment.com

Many Belizeans, particularly children, have experienced abandonment due to a parent(s) or spouse(s) making the tough decision to leave their loved ones behind in order to provide a better life for them at home, not realizing the traumatic impact such an event will have on those they love. Those left behind may experience the inability to feel safe due to threatening circumstances, feel emotional neglect, or might not have been provided adequate shelter which creates fear and a strong sense of insecurity. Unfortunately, victims of abandonment often live a lifetime of fear that abandonment will recur. Dr. Claudia Black, M.S.W., states, “Shame arises from the painful message implied in abandonment: ‘You are not important. You are not of value.’ This is the pain from which people need to heal.”

Based Belizeans feel a strong sense of betrayal toward its diaspora who they believe left them behind in search of “greener pastures,” and who might be prospering, while they at home continue to suffer. I would argue that these feelings of abandonment is the site of our contest. This deeply rooted grudge that manifests itself in a desire to somehow even the score even if it means shooting oneself in the foot. Belizeans at home often express a sense of entitlement to all things Belizean, attempt to shut us out of the political discourse by silencing our voices, our Constitution condones (or perhaps sets the standard for) this behavior by taking away our birthright, they criticize diaspora activists for being out of touch with the political reality on the ground whose politics is detached from the complexities of their lived reality, and the tension builds with accusations that the diaspora are cowards who ran away, or would run back to the States from the frontline of the struggle when things go wrong; the guilt-shaming list is long and harsh, but here is our perspective…

While the diaspora appreciate the validity of some of these arguments, the Belizean discourse reveals that, in a limited way, we are dealing with a reality that is more complex than the argument presented. As I write this I am conscious of how my criticism will be received, I am conscious of that oppressive chasm that exists between us, and the notion that “home” is not necessarily a comfortable, welcoming place for the diaspora. We hear the echo of your voices telling us, “why you no go bak da States,” or the mumbling voices that ridicule us when we speak English, “e fahget how fuh talk creole.” It is within this context that based Belizeans fail to bridge the gap and why the diaspora, paralyzed by these criticisms, may refuse to cross over to shake the hand of our brothers and sisters. For us it is clear, based Belizeans do not allow for the crossing and re-crossing of our borders and see it as an invasion rather than a re-connection.

It is partially true that to be from the diaspora implies a certain level of consumption and opportunity to achieve wealth and a good education, but it also implies responsibility and obligation to family and dependents at home. To be fair, Belizeans in the diaspora face three challenges when they go abroad: surviving in a new and hostile environment away from the support of family, struggling to taking care of themselves while taking care of their families at home. Basically, supporting two households! Their mission to send remittances, boxes of clothes and other necessities to their families in order to provide economic relief props up the Belizean economy, but some pay a very high price to achieve this goal. Attracted to the possibility of work and the opportunity to acquire a good education, diaspora Belizeans sacrifice a great deal when taking this leap of faith. For most, it’s a hard life and not all it is cracked up to be; therefore, YOUR perception at home is not necessarily OUR reality abroad.

Further, not everyone who takes the giant leap to seek better opportunities abroad end up living a grand lifestyle. Some of our people (particularly in the “States”) come here with limited education, some illegally, they end up working two or three jobs to send money home to feed their families, they live in some of the most violent and depressed neighborhoods, their kids are exposed to tough gangs in schools, and they spend most of their time scrambling to survive so they can keep their families at home afloat. There is only a very small percentage of Belizeans who by a stroke of luck, or by their own perseverance, can claim success and wealth that allow them to go to and fro.

To be honest, our struggle to survive in a hostile, foreign land would be made a lot easier if Belizeans at home would welcome us with gratitude and appreciation for our sacrifice, instead of resentful displays and hurtful words. We get that most Belizeans at home cannot afford to travel anywhere and are perhaps stuck in the boredom of their lives, so when they see us, they are reminded of that. But what they must realize is that WE are happy to be home, away from the rat race, and envy the simplicity of THEIR lives. It is exactly our inability to reconnect with each other that cause the distancing and misunderstandings.

The term “diaspora” clearly has elitist connotations. It conjures up an idea that builds on a fantasy that coming to America means affluence and easy riches. These perceptions are often reinforced by some members of the diaspora (not all) who do return home flaunting their newfound status with “states clothes,” an American accent, and that Yankee dollar; this is true. But for many who are faced with hardships, along with the shame that they might not be living up to your expectations, your criticisms and your resentments are undeserved and hurtful.

Yes, there are advantages but there are also limitations to living in the diaspora. When we arrive the diaspora is engaged in an ongoing process of negotiating our identity for our selves and our children. Understanding our displacement, the cultural challenges we face, surviving the politics of a new country, having to maneuver and negotiate our space in unfamiliar territory, or trying to blend into a new society that we sometimes do not fully understand, or cannot fully penetrate, can sometimes beat us down. So, yes, protracted exclusion is our daily reality (at home and abroad).

We regret that your echoing voices misnaming us, truncating our Belizean identity while simultaneously inscribing us with your language of exclusion and marginality, may never stop. But we hope the term BelAm will be subject to new analysis, new understandings, if we are to unlock a discourse that continues to inscribe the diaspora as outsiders. Why are these definitions being deployed against us? Your language of separation is mostly applied to Belizeans in America; the eye opener for us is that Belizeans living in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Africa have no such negative inscriptions. The term BelAm suggests a state of opposition or resistance when juxtaposed against Belizeans at home.

With that said, Belizeans in the diaspora will continue its ongoing search to find language to articulate ourselves. We have no desire to negotiate the terms of our identities in ways other than “representing” OUR Belizeanness because anything else would contribute to our destruction. It is in this context of refusing to surrender OUR love for Belize, OUR Belizean identity and OUR culture…this forced construction, that we demand our seat at the table so OUR voices can be heard. Based Belizeans are not more entitled to all things Belizean than us. Concessions will have to be made and there is no need for an unnecessary war of words. Paula Giddings once wrote, “A nation is therefore a large-scale solidarity, constituted by the feeling of the sacrifices that one has made in the past and of those that one is prepared to make in the future.”

The Belizean diaspora is not going anywhere because we love our country too. We have been criticized for our inability to effectively organize ourselves so we can make a difference at home and that is a fair argument. The Belizean diaspora often bemoan our lack of unity, our failure to organize and mobilize in an effective way, how we often undermine ourselves by factionalism from different groups, how scattered and divided we are across regions, and how we have a tendency to compete for political space rather than cooperating with each other. We are distrustful of some of our fellow Belizeans who quickly change course when they see a better opportunity elsewhere, but some of us refuse to give up and where there is a will, there is a way.

Our determination and strong sense of responsibility to The Jewel is boosted enormously by new communication technologies that allow us to communicate, organize and spread the message through social media and the Internet. Facebook offers us the opportunity to communicate, argue amongst ourselves as Belizeans often do, it offers the cross-fertilization of ideas and the possibility of immediate exchange between us in all our scattered locations. The texts we create in our discourses have the ability to circulate in communities far and wide and have brought us closer together in more meaningful ways than we could ever imagine.

If Belizeans at home and abroad can draw on a shared cultural repertoire of ideas perhaps we can find some common ground. At the end of the day REMEMBERING…that we share the same love of country, the same cultural identity, the same political concerns for Belize’s political transformation, the same hope for Belize, then perhaps once we recognize that WE ARE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER, we can start extending the hand of friendship, maintain some degree of civility towards each other that results in dignity and hope for ALL. We are on the same page folks! We are on the same page!

Hatred paralyzes life; love releases it. Hatred confuses life; love harmonizes it. Hatred darkens life; love illuminates it. – Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Debbie Curling was a member of the Belizean Diaspora and has recently returned home to Belize. 

The Chains of Colonialism : The Neal and Mora Secret Tapes by: Aria Lightfoot


Eldred Neal and Marvin Mora are leaders within two of the most powerful  unions in Belize representing a diverse membership from all over the country of Belize.  Both men were secretly taped using racist terms and cultural stereotypes against the Garinagu people of Belize.

If you were raised in Belize, you are familiar with the sundry list of racial adjectives and stereotypes thrown at our diverse melting pot of cultures.  Many people think that such words are innocent, playful or even harmless and maybe even cultural jabbing. Some people will argue that Belize is a racial utopia and in the next breath utter cultural and racially insensitive stereotypes. When you speak to Belizeans who grew up dark skinned, darker,  short haired, wide nose,  Creole,  Maya, Garifuna, Mennonite, East Indian,  Mestizo, Arab,  White – the pain is evident in their stories and what we think  is cultural jabbing  is a form of racial bulling that undermines ones dignity, self esteem and individuality.

The racist and divisive expressions stem from a dark colonial history. Many cultures in Belize are victims of an orchestrated psychological form of racism producing self-hate, divide and servility.   We don’t question the status quo, we don’t challenge injustices, we don’t fight for each other.  We are a “docile people”  – mental slaves.  We have too many people who subscribe to a romantic notion of European ancestry even though their features, hair, skin color betray them;  many revere  European laws and order even though Europeans have committed the worst atrocities against our ancestors.

Belize is historically flawed because of  fairy tale books that pass off as history books and  the failure to introduce Maya and African history into the curriculum.  Neal and Mora are ignorant to their own subjugation.  They promulgate hate and devise a culture war against a race of people they share ancestry with.  Neal, in his rant, did point out a truthful yet sordid past about Belize; Belize practiced segregation.  In additional to segregation, there were extreme forms of  bullying.  The Garinagu were banned from living in Belize City and were only allowed to visit on allocated days.  The Garinagu that visited the city as  fishermen and vendors faced the scourge of rude children’s stones, teasing and disrespect.  Is this something that Neal should be celebrating?   Even within Creole culture, there were mulatto children who hid away their dark skinned parents or parents who treated their darker children or family members with disdain. There are even stories of abandonment due to complexion of children.

Colonialism was a systematic and power tool of control. Races were eradicated; histories and identities of ancestors were erased; subjects were confused with divisive tools, whipped into compliance, subjected to an acceptable form of  inequality, limited access and exclusion.

Belize City has the most powerful leaders; every Prime Minister in Belize’s short independent history  has originated from the City.  Belize City can be described as a predominantly black city, with some of the most educated people, the epicenter of Belize’s legal and financial centers,  and yet the city boasts the poorest divisions, worst living conditions, highest crime rates, and the most evidence of wealth inequality than any other part of the country of Belize.  Why?

Too many Belizeans in powerful positions prefer to transplant wealth and land to foreigners before they extend a hand to uplift the people they share a birthright, culture and citizenship with. Belizeans have accepted divisive labels such as  political affiliation, sex, sexual orientation, ethnicity and citizenship unable to recognize the destructive forces of colonialism.

Think about the power of colonialism that even today, people are unable to break the chains.  We have highly educated and intelligent people still advocating stereotypes, distrusting and fearing people of their own citizenship.  We have people we have entrusted  to lead us, to fight for us – dividing us. Please let your voices be heard. Let your leaders know that we will break this mental chain, we will resist the culture wars, we will break the chains of colonialism and we demand that all citizens be treated equally without exception.

“Emancipate yourself from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds” (Bob Marley)

 

 

 

Dear Teenage Girls….by: Kiah Pastor


 

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Kiah Pastor

Dear Teenage Girls of Belize,

There are a couple tragedies currently in the media that has hit close to home therefore I’d like to speak on one. There was a situation that occurred where a 13 year old female sent nude photos to a man and he then threatened to expose them if she did not have sex with him. Well she ended up having sex with him twice.

We live in a Society where men glorify women and their bodies but there is a very fine line between being human and appreciating a woman’s natural physique and then just being out right disrespectful. In Belize, most cases it’s being disrespectful. But as a child having your body go through changes, you’re left some what confused. Why should I as a teenager not show off my newly developed breasts if they’re so many older and more developed women on social media also showing off their bodies and getting glorified by not only men but other females as well. Do you see my point? Nudity has become a part of pop culture. Nudity has become art. Nudity has been accepted in every case EXCEPT when it has been shared against your will. The amount of guys I’ve seen preaching about “having self respect” and telling girls to stop sending nudes to young boys are the same guys I recall have asked me to send them a nude when I was between the ages of 12-16.

Almost every male will vow they’ll never associate themselves with younger girls but they’re so many of them who love it! It’s the idea of being with a female who doesn’t have a set of boundaries mostly because they don’t know what the boundaries should be. The idea of not being with a female you need to break all sorts of walls to get through to because she hasn’t been scarred by other men in order to build those walls up in the first place. And lastly it’s the idea of having a body that hasn’t been touched. The inferior feeling of taking it all away. Men love dominance.

Now let me redirect my energy. It’s not solely the men of our society’s fault but also the women. We should work hard as women to be advocates of true self confidence and self love. We should be more willing to reach out to the younger girls around us and be a big sister figure to them and be there to advise them so they don’t need to figure it all out on their own. This is very hard because there’s a lot of adult women themselves who don’t have self respect nor show true value of themselves as women but that’s okay! You don’t need to be in that space forever! You don’t need to be vulnerable to these men. You don’t need to use sex to feel powerful and you don’t need to showcase your body to get attention. You do what you’re confident with not what you feel is pleasing to others. Where do you think promiscuous women are stemmed from? Sexual acts that occur in early stages of life. Let’s make an effort to be the best examples to younger girls and to show them how they should react when put in compromising positions! You’re not alone!

From a young woman building herself back up,
Kiah Lisani Pastor 💓

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The State of Belize- A Design To Fail by: Aria Lightfoot


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Belize is a small country, with a relatively small population and comparatively undeveloped even within the regions of Latin American and Caribbean countries. What Belize lacks in size and development, it makes up in resources and attractions. Belize is abundant in resources such as fertile land, minerals, bountiful sea, waterways, intelligent people, exuberant culture and history. Unfortunately, however, Belize economic state is a casualty of generations of greedy and unconscionable colonizers and politicians who still enjoy little oversight and a “docile” population that genuflects conformity over rebellion.

The country of what is today Belize was once a thriving Maya civilization until the British settlers (pirates) invaded in the early 1600’s. The birth of British influenced Belize was one of bloodshed, piracy, kidnapping subjugation and wars leading to enslavement, divisiveness, colonization and eventual independence. During British rule, the British extracted the rich resources from Belize and transferred the wealth to the British Empire. Today, the privilege few extract wealth from the citizenry through bloated contracts and exclusive deals.

The British evidently had no development plans for Belize. The poor structures, absentee land ownerships and lack of re-settlement of British families to Belize were all evidence of an extraction of wealth policy firmly in place. The British continued to the manipulate the people and divide the nation with centuries of indoctrination and colonization through a British system of formal education, law and politics. The system inherited by Belize was designed to keep British supremacy and British rule enduringly intact even in their absence. Look around in 2016 Belize and you see a second coming of outside landowners and business owners as the Belizean people remain poorly paid workers and consumers .

Unlike the UK and many other neighboring British colonies, Belize is a heterogeneous society, piecemealed into a cultural montage of mostly oppressed cultures where Belize City is still deemed the epicenter of economic activity. That was the structure when independence was first accomplished, but probably not today’s reality. The economy has shifted from an agriculture dependent economy to a service oriented economy. Agriculture and Fishing continues to be sustained by special first world welfare agreements that will eventually evaporate.  Additionally, since Belize was a wealth extraction colony, there was no effort nor foresight to develop a self-sustaining economy independent of the British. The British Empire provided the needed supplies to the colony and local farming and fishing sustained the needed fresh vegetables and meat.

Education and Legal practice in Belize is geared towards conformity and perpetuation. In the legal field for example, there is an abundance of legal minds seemingly impaired to address a collapsing legal system. Belize laws suffer from poor structures and poor enforcement. We have many Economists in Belize who offer little solutions  to a collapsing economy. We  have a plethora of untapped knowledge and expertise in Belize and in the Belizean diaspora,  but unorthodox and independent thinking is strongly discouraged and quickly thwarted and subjugated to censor and alienation.

Many leaders may not know how to examine these failing structures in place. Our leaders would first have to admit they are adhering and promulgating a system that was not designed for Belizeans. George Price, in his noble fight for Belize was not sophisticated enough to reject the new Belize Constitution in 1981, which was nothing but a mere carbon copy of the constitutions shared among other British colonies, contrived by the British. Belize did not chart a new society specific to the realities and history of Belize in 1981, power was simply transferred to a few Belizeans who have been afforded the privilege of the colonizers. Our revolutionists were all too happy to take control of the wheel without examining if the vehicle was designed for development and prosperity of Belize. The Belizean people simply adapted the very laws and practices of its colonizers on Independence Day.

Fast forward to the last 35 years of Belize’s independent history and you find leaders who have perpetuated a system of privilege, piracy and pacification. Belize adhered to an antiquated legal system that keeps looking back for answers instead of promoting progressive thinking;  the  tax laws are ineffective;  land distribution is unproductive; and leaders exhibit a real disdain for expertise outside the crony network. Belize’s economy today is heavily dependent on unsustainable loans and  hand-out generosity of imperial first world countries that dictate mandates which fill Belize’s prisons with productive men, destroy families and hypocritically undermine cash crops like marijuana.

Since the colony of British Honduras was heavily dependent on the British Empire for resources and Independence cut the umbilical cord, Belize has turned to mass importation and borrowing to maintain the economy. Additionally, the economic problems are intensified by porous borders where Belize has taken on substantial burdens of poor people with limited education and limited reciprocity to generate wealth; elected officials with little or no oversight on borrowing and spending; blatant theft of public goods and services; tax avoidance and tax evasion; poor enforcement laws and obliviousness of the population at large. Today’s Belize is still embroiled in bloodshed, piracy and subjugation.The bells are tolling and Belize will need to design a Belize for Belizeans to secure the very survival of Belize. Creditors cannot solve Belize’s problems until Belize recognize and resolve the deficiencies in a system that perpetuates dependency and archaic practices and repels development and economic evolution.

Charting a Path to Self-Determination by: Aria Lightfoot


 

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I was very transparent with my support for the current Prime Minister, Dean Barrow, during the 2015 elections and I continue to support him.  I believe that the current PM is the leader who is poised to put Belize on the right path to self-determination.

Belize is a young democracy compared to many nations in the world and unlike many nations, we did not fight for our Independence; on the contrary, Independence was transitional. Belize was slowly provided decision-making powers through decades of indoctrination after centuries of colonialization- the right to vote, the right to self-government and eventually Independence. Not only did we not fight for Independence, there was significant opposition to the notion of Independence.

On September 21st, 1981, Prince Michael of Kent ceremoniously declared Belize Independent and Belize was re-born, with Stockholm syndrome, celebrating independence, Columbus Day, asking God to save the Queen and idolizing the paper and coins with images of the Royal Family. The Belize legal and political systems were and are orchestrated to perpetuate the British Empire- a class tier structure promulgating elitism. Independent Belize assumed the same political and legal system, the same Queen as head of state and judges with white wigs and black/brown faces. Independence in words only, but quite dependent militarily and financially on England, the US and EU. Belizeans were never given the opportunity to think outside the British box nor develop laws for Belizean cultures. Belize’s history books and constitution were pre-written; our inherited educational system engineers self–hate and brainwashes us to uphold Eurocentric idealism.  Like Pontius Pilate, England washed it hands of Belize on September 21st and kicked us out the proverbial nest.

It is ironic that after the first world perpetuated the worst human rights violation against African and Indigenous races; after they raped countries like Belize of its resources and brain power; after they have burdened Belize with predatory loans and investors; they now create laws to tell countries like Belize what constitutes corruption. Sadly, we live in a world of realities and not necessarily justice. Justice is an abstract concept simply because those who suffer at the hands of injustices never really experience justice. We cannot bring back the dead, we cannot undue the victimization or colonialization; so we create this idealism of justice which are promises to never repeat the sins of our ancestors. We create ceremonies that honor men and women who can no longer breathe; console ourselves that justice will prevail and then ignore the needed fixtures to undo the centuries of derailment.

I know…. I went off the deep end, but I only mention things so that people can understand that corruption does not have one definition nor is it one thing, entity or person; corruption does not exist in a vacuum, corruption has enablers. The government is not the only entity that should be held accountable for corruption as there are too many organizations and individuals in Belize who are corrupted and lack of necessary oversight and accountability…

Political Parties

Medical Profession

Insurance Companies

Legal Profession

Media

Public Officers /Local and Central Government

Religious Organizations

Business Sector

Realtors

Unions

The People of Belize

The cries against corruption have reached fever pitch and I applaud those who have the courage to speak out. People are fearful to speak out and those who decide to openly share their opinions are subjected to ridicule, accusations of ulterior motives, and even bodily threats. Corruption has created a moral decay in Belize. The ill-gained wealth; the rampant drug use and facilitation of drug shipments; the theft of public funds; the lack of a functioning criminal legal system; the media that sensationalizes and misinforms; the business sector that cheats the state of taxes and sells the masses inferior goods at expensive rates; the attorneys who undermine the laws with loopholes; the insurance companies that drop their clients when they make claims; the realtors who facilitate illegal land transactions; the doctors who treat the wealthy and let the poor die; the public officers who accept money to facilitate illegal deals; the police officers who selectively enforce the laws; the churches that allow pedophiles to rip away our children’s innocence; the political parties that field corrupted candidates; and now the teachers using innocent children as pawns…

The Belize National Teachers Union broke away from salary negotiations under the umbrella organization, National Trade Union Congress of Belize, and unilaterally, without consultations of any other affected bodies or citizens outside their membership, decided to take a very shortsighted, non-strategic stab at corruption. The BNTU made eight demands to address corruption. To many the cause is noble, but obviously these eight demands that BNTU is making does not even begin to address what ails Belize. The BNTU’s demands are very simplistic, broad and would be an ineffective solution to corruption. Mr. Elrington, may have been harsh in words, but the truth sometimes is a very bitter pill to swallow. In Belize we don’t like truths, we prefer to hold on to unsubstantiated and poorly examined and ill-informed beliefs. BNTU’s frustration is real, but their demands are knee jerk, emotional and poorly conceived. BNTU’s fight is more passion than reason at the cost of our children’s education.

Without a doubt government requires oversight, limitations and public trust. The problem with Belize legal/political framework is that it is not designed for oversight. When our very Constitution allows “ministerial discretion” with no scope or limitation then our system is greatly flawed and most of the solutions must be at the constitutional level. The solutions must be comprehensive, well researched, formulated, presented and executed.

The opposition has seized on this popular but ill-conceived advocacy because they know that the demands are elementary to a very complex issue. I don’t believe that the opposition, or any entity that has benefited from corruption truly want to activate real change in Belize. It would mean that they would have to start looking inwardly, and start cleaning house. Imagine if every organization would present a plan as to how they would tackle corruption internally, it would be a real step in the right direction.

Belize has devolved into a Trump-like America, where decency and respect is the exception, rather than the norm.   We prefer to accuse, insult and demean rather than dialogue. We prefer noise to solutions and we refuse to listen to reason when it doesn’t align with our stance. You would be lying if you claim you have not contributed to this corruptive environment; simply turning a blind eye or remaining silent are all contributive factors, being disrespectful and undermining are corruptive behavior, ignoring truths are corruptive behavior.

The solutions to corruption have to be a concerted effort involving the sitting government, the opposition, unions, social partners and citizens of Belize. Belize’s evolution to corruption-free self-determination can only be done with a sitting government with the constitutional authority to introduce the legislative changes in the House of Representatives. In the 35 years of Independence, Belizeans have heard many promises from every opposition that they would tackle corruption, only to be ignored once power is gained. Belize is at a crossroad and after 35 years of poor policy decisions and outright theft of public goods, services and funds, this is the first time in Belize’s history that a sitting government is open to systematic changes. I believe that the current Prime Minister will make the right decisions with contribution and dialogue and I challenge Belizeans to offer solutions rather than posturing and rhetoric.

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BNTU- More Passion Less Reason by: Aria Lightfoot


“To promote and advance the highest levels of professional service in the teaching profession, and to represent and advance the just cause of teachers and their collective views of Government and Educational authorities at all levels within Belize and abroad, in order to promote and achieve the best possible standards of education and quality of life for all of our people.” BNTU’s mission statement 

my way or highway

Teaching remains one of the most respected and noble professions in Belize and let’s face it, teachers possess a great deal of influence over our children and spend a great deal of time educating and molding our children and the future of Belize. If the average teacher has twenty children, spending an average of eight hours a day, it means that a teacher is working with about 160 hours of children time per day or 3200 hours per month of children time. If teachers make an average of $1500.00 a month, teachers are being paid about 46 cents an hour per child. When you break down a teacher’s salary, you get a clearer picture of how truly underpaid these professionals are.

While children are an investment for the future of Belize, public schools are not self sustaining because they do not generate real income especially in parts of Belize where families struggle to make ends meet; they struggle to pay school fees and struggle to buy the necessary uniforms, books and equipment. The state uses redistributive taxes from income tax and taxes from products and services to provide income for teachers,  administrators,  build and maintain schools,  pay electricity, water and other bills. Studies show that the more affluent a neighborhood, the better the kids from those schools will perform because parents are then able to subsidize deficiencies that the state is unable to provide.

Belize does not have zoning laws that forces children to be educated in their school districts nor property tax laws that forces neighborhoods to pay for their schools. As it relates to education, Belize has maintained a church-state relationship that has been essentially abused by the churches. The church-state schools pack their schools with their congregations’ children and a few other kids who are able to improve their school standings. Church schools are able to attract the brightest and best teachers and students with alluring scholarships for students and better working conditions for teachers. This current system prevents other schools from developing by leaving behind children with less resources and access. The state has always allowed the churches to create these exclusionary policies, so church schools (mostly Catholic) outperform other schools. Isn’t this a corruptive system of education? At the church’s and congregation’s expense these exclusionary policies would be okay, but every tax payer contributes to this system but not every tax payer is afforded equal access to these schools. This brings me to examine the Belize National Teachers Union.

The Belize National Teachers Union also known as BNTU is a powerful union of teachers with a vision statement that highlights their purpose: To promote and maintain a professional organization of workers in education in Belize. This organization will aspire towards the highest and best in educational standards, services and conditions of work for the development of Belize.

The BNTU mission statement states: To promote and advance the highest levels of professional service in the teaching profession, and to represent and advance the just cause of teachers and their collective views of Government and Educational authorities at all levels within Belize and abroad, in order to promote and achieve the best possible standards of education and quality of life for all of our people.

The BNTU is currently in a labor dispute of sorts with the government of Belize. The teachers are demanding a 3% raise from the government except that when they actually sat at the negotiation table with the government they argued that corruption in Belize contributes to an environment that forces the government to have to break promises to give raises. So instead of demanding anything within their vision or mission statement, the BNTU decided they will take on a broad issue of corruption arguing that the International Labor Organization, a UN agency dealing with international labor standards world wide,  of which Belize is a member state, gives BNTU this authority to take on corruption because it affects their social and economic well being. The BNTU presented the government of Belize with eight demands that they want the government to address forthwith or face a strike.

  1. Urgent Action by GOB to sign the UN Convention Against Corruption.
  2. Take Corrected Measures to improve and ensure compliance with the requirements of our Unjust Enrichment and Integrity in Government Laws
  1. Take Urgent corrective measures including Legislative Action to have and make our Public Accounts Committee work and be effective.
  2. Take immediate and necessary Action to appoint a Special Senate Select Committee to make a full and proper Investigation/Inquiry into the recent Auditor General’s Audit Report into the Immigration and Nationality Departments for the 2011-2013 Period; including recommended, Corrective and Punitive action.
  1. Take immediate and appropriate measures to enact the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Bill and to formulate a Just and Fair Minimum Living Wage Legislation and Policy.
  2. Take serious and immediate action to restore (Education Rules) and to discuss and implement the unfinished section of our BNTU Special Proposal 22, to ensure the just Right and employment status/tenure and Service Benefits of the Non-teaching Staff of our Secondary and Tertiary Levels Educational Institutions.
  3. Take immediate and long over-due Legislative Measures to reform and update our Social Security Laws and Benefits to expand and broaden the protection and coverage of the workers (Contributors) including the section on to and from work. 1

Transparency International defines corruption as the abuse of entrusted power. That abuse can be via manipulation of policy, rules, procedures and allocation of resources to enhance personal wealth, status and power.

These demands from BNTU are definitely what Belize needs, but it is not aligned with BNTU’s vision and mission statement. In fact, the demands are so broad and unlikely to be created and implemented in such a small window that one must reason that the BNTU motives are not transparent and their strike is to destabilize the government of Belize.   Some people argue that the present government had eight years to create these changes and failed to, but why is that argument even being made during the BNTU/GOB discussion? Is this election time? Election was held in November of 2015 and all these arguments were made and the people of Belize reelected the government of Belize. I agree that Belizeans must hold our government accountable as a people and nation of Belize, but BNTU’s unilateral action reeks of abuse.

Corruption is not one thing AND it is not only a government problem, it is a systematic practice that involves everyone. To argue that you want the government to solve corruption is like arguing you want world peace or else. The parameters were created to fail.

Belize is a small developing nation where politics and family are deeply intertwined. Belize is facing increasing international scrutiny because of different acts of corruption and there are urgent issues that the nation and people of Belize must tackle. Those in power must understand they have a responsibility for the positions they hold and they owe their memberships and supporters accountability. Belize laws have not yet evolved to address the ever-present issues that manifest almost daily. Historically, Belize has existed in some form for about 400 years in what use to be a mostly homogeneous society in an extremely small colony (prior to mass emigration to the US and immigration from neighboring countries and most recently US and UK)  . The laws of the colony were there to maintain order and maintain the status quo. Belize has only been independent for 35 years and while George Price may have had an idealistic vision for the future of Belize, he could not foreseen globalization, parasitic investors, tax havens, brutal drug trades, illegal transshipment points with billions of dollars at stake, international criminals and fugitives, terrorism, sex tourism, Internet, porous borders, international interest in developing and moving to Belize. The colonial laws of Belize that were designed to maintain status quo, are not equipped for the tsunami of events that have unfolded since Independence.

As the nations cries for changes these are some to the things that BNTU should consider:

  1. Instead of taking a ‘my way or the highway’ approach, why not partner with the government, businesses and social partners to work on a development plan for Belize? The government has in good faith agreed to your demands but you do not speak for the electorate and therefore holding the government ransom for what is not your mandate is a form of abuse and manipulation of rules.
  2. The current PM, Hon. Dean Barrow,  is the only sitting PM that has consistently agreed to work on improving the system while in power. Belize has seen its share of oppositions make promises to change the system only to ignore the changes while in power however only Mr. Barrow has disciplined misbehaving ministers, allowed audit reports to reveal corruption  and have removed  or diminished some of the most infamous personalities of corruption within his ranks. The current PM may be a shrewd negotiator, as some describe him, but he realizes that the people power is real and has been working to address these issues.
  3. Change can only happen with a sitting government who must create the policy (hopefully in full partnership with stakeholders), present it to the House, and vet it through the Senate. We must work within our system to change our system. Placards and marches bring the necessary attention and pressure, but changes happen with a sitting government. Destabilizing a duly elected government on a unilateral mandate is not for the betterment of teachers.
  4. Work on improving the education system because there is much corruption in the state/church relationship that requires urgent attention. The recent unilateral letter of support by Catholic Public Schools signed by Maria Zabaneh only to be dispelled a day later by Sister Barbara Flores is evidence of how unilateral crusades undermine credibility and leadership
  5. Ask the government to create a property tax system to benefit schools. Do you know that some communities are paying $5.00 a year in property taxes? We must create a comprehensive tax system that does not overburden one sector of society and allows equitable distribution and access.

We will never achieve change with egos. We will achieve change by understanding how the system functions and what creates the opportunities for abuse. Partnering and holding everyone accountable for their positions are the only true way to achieve change. The reality is that all Belizeans will need to get use to the idea of accountability including the BNTU and we should not let our passions overrule our ability to reason.