Best Entry wins $200.00BZD – Citizenship: Why I will vote on Nov 4th 2015


vote

Election Date has been set for November 4th, 2015.  Michelle Obama once said that you should not be cynical about politics – Voting is an important part of democracy and extremely important to forge a nation forward. Additionally, we the people elect our leaders who are accountable to us ….When you don’t participate, you allow someone else to make a choice on your behalf.

In commemoration of voting in the upcoming elections-

Please write a short 500-1000 word essay

or submit a video presentation-5 -10 minutes long

Citizenship – Why I will vote on Nov 4th 2015.

Win $200.00 BZD

Deadline for Essay is 10/23/2015.

Submit entries to: twocanview@gmail.com

Open to all Belizean Citizens in Belize -18 years and older

 

Winning Essay/video will become the property of twocanview.com

 

 

 

Should the Belizean Diaspora participate in elections and elected office?


diaspora.final_.full_

 

The Belizean Diaspora contributes an estimated 200 million USD to families and organizations in Belize. Amendment 7 is a legislation which clarifies the rights of Belizeans who hold dual citizenship. This is a very important legislation for the future of Belize’s survival. Nuri Akbar delves deeper into this legislation and its implications for Belize. Please read, share and discuss. 
The resurrection of the 7th amendment and Belize survivability in the 21st

28 May 2013 — by Nuri Akbar

 

On June 19th 2009, the Prime Minister of Belize,  the Hon. Dean Barrow, while addressing the proposed 7th amendment to the Belize  constitution in the National Assembly uttered the following words:

“Because our laws recognize dual citizenship how  then will you turn around, recognizing dual citizenship, providing for dual  citizenship but impose a limitation on a dual citizen. It makes no sense at all  and if a little bit of history and background are necessary, we didn’t always  recognize dual citizenship. The recognition of dual citizenship came about as a  consequence of the advance in legislation that was promoted by national hero  Phillip Goldson. But we turn around and we leave intact in the constitution for  all these years this impairment on the rights of the Belizean who have acquired  a second nationality. I say therefore, Mr. Speaker, that it is utterly and  completely contradictory. I also say it is inconsistent, and let me tell you why  it is inconsistent, if you are a Belizean who has acquired second nationality  you are disqualified from sitting in the National Assembly, but the Governor  General, whose office is from a protocol point of view the highest office in the  land, there is no such disqualification. The Governor General can be a Belizean  who has acquired a second nationality. He is not barred from being Governor  General and that is the highest office in the land. “

Recently a prominent Diaspora Belizean, Mrs.  Muriel Laing-Arthurs, asked me to comment on the 7th amendment to the  constitution proposed in 2009 that would have given full citizenship rights to  Belizean-born natives who happen to possess dual nationality. Since I am not a  card carrying member of any political party, my trajectory on this issue is not  skewed by the inordinate local partisan rhetoric that has taken on a life of its  own in Belize, but rather influenced by the realities we are facing as a people  and nation and the fact that we have thus far failed to strategically maximize  our human capital among our Belizean brothers and sisters in the Diaspora.

 

Therefore, on this particular issue I am in  agreement with the Prime Minister and endorse the concept and spirit of the 7th  amendment. However the contradictions and hypocrisy in our actual  behavior/thinking surrounding the re-embracement of the Belizean Diaspora must  fundamentally change if this initiative is to be successful.

Belize national  hero, the Honorable Phillip Goldson, lost his physical eyesight in the later  years of his life, but arguably he possessed one of the most clairvoyant visions  we have ever produced in an indigenous leader. From the inception he saw the  critical role Belizeans in the Diaspora can and should play in the overall  national development of Belize, and understood that national allegiance and  patriotism were not limited by one’s geographical location. Hence, his efforts  over the many decades to engage, reconnect, claim and maximize the Belizean  human capital of the Diaspora toward Belize national development have been one  of the most remarkable progressive legacies of Phillip Goldson.

The issue of migration has been with the earliest  human creatures as they began the trek out of Africa and eventually crossed the  Bering Strait millennia ago into the Americas. These migrations were often times  prompted by the need of share survival and in search of water, food and shelter.  Other times by war, oppression, natural disasters and protection against the  unrepentant natural elements.

As empires rose and fell over the millennia,  human beings were captured and used as slaves to build these empires. In modern  times much of Europe as we have known it was obliterated by two world wars that  killed millions and displaced entire populations. During the revolutions that  engulfed the Central American isthmus in the 70’s and 80’s, hundreds of  thousands of people were displaced, forced to flee, and many became  refugees.

In Belize’s case large migration can be traced  back to the building of the Panama Canal and World War II. After the 1931 and  1961 hurricanes that devastated the country and killed many people, Belizeans,  via a designed policy, were granted refugee status and were allowed to migrate  into the United States. Over the ensuing decades this migration pattern  continued officially and unofficially, eventually creating a brain drain that  has had an adverse impact on the nation’s long term development. Today thousands  of these same Belizeans and their offspring have acquired various life-affirming  skills and experience that have benefitted the host countries.

This perennial movement /exodus of masses of  people has been a part of human nature as a result of curiosity, mobility,  circumstance, oppression and conflict. To this end, the life and times we are  now living in 2013 have therefore imposed upon us the necessity to reclaim this  reservoir of natural resource.

A brilliant Diaspora Belizean sociologist who is  an expert on migration, Dr. Jerome Straughan, raised the issue of the  transforming definition of the modern nation state and its increasing mobility  of people and how governments will have to implement policies that take these  new dynamics into account. Accepting the reality that half of Belize’s  population reside abroad, creating the bridge/mechanism to harness this human  capital toward the development of the mother nation is not only logical, but is  in keeping with the transforming definition of modern nation states and  globalization. Given Belize’s geographic location, population size and history,  isolationism has no place in the 21st century. There is no question that the  nation’s future direction, national development and very survivability hinge on  its ability to reclaim its Belizean Diaspora and incorporate the human capital  into a long term strategy for maximum benefit.

The vulnerability of small, developing and  peripheral economies like Belize’s is the burden of external debt. When a small  country becomes totally consumed by debt, her natural resources then become  collateral and held hostage to the creditor nations and institutions. Local  governments are pressured into compromising the national patrimony, which  includes putting the country’s vital industries, raw materials, and even the  scandalous selling of passports, on the chopping block in a desperate bid to  raise revenue. This global trend will not change anytime soon, but given the  continued contraction of the metropolitan economies, Belize’s natural resources  will remain a premium for exploitation.

In Belize there have been many noble causes taken  up by various local and foreign finance advocacy groups and organizations  relating to the physical environment, wildlife, social and cultural issues, but  not a single organization dedicated to reconnecting and reclaiming the Belizean  human capital from abroad. Over the years, Belize’s leading newspaper, the  Amandala, has editorially supported the Hon. Phillip Goldson’a vision of  proactively engaging the Belizean Diaspora and encouraging the cross-pollination  of Belizeans at home and abroad, but this vision is yet to reverberate across  all sectors of the society.

The most valuable natural resource our nation  will ever produce is our people. Hence, any attempt at reclaiming this natural  resource should be paramount on any platform for national reconstruction and  development. It is now estimated that the number of Belizeans (first and second  generation) residing abroad in North America, Europe and elsewhere is equal to  half the three hundred thousand plus residents in the entire nation of  Belize.

The arguments presented in 2009 for abolishing  the discriminatory and apartheid era law dividing our people, and for providing  the legal instrument allowing Belizeans who hold dual nationality access to full  citizenship rights, participation and inclusion in elected public office, were  and are a visionary, progressive policy option.

There is no excuse for not initiating and  quantifying the various experiences in creating a skill bank of Belizean  citizens abroad toward national inclusion. This should be relatively easy since  globally the platforms already exist using tools such as Linkedln, Facebook,  etc., where thousands of Belizeans are actively interacting and networking with  each other. TheFortune 500 corporations and many countries  already use these various platforms for global recruitment of talents, skills  and experience. Since the rapid growth of the Internet, the competition for  human creativity, talent and experience has indeed gone global.

The continued dragging of the feet and denial of  thousands of Diaspora Belizean-born citizens from total participation in the  development of their homeland is now viewed as conspiratorial, and even racist,  by many. If a Belizean-born citizen is disqualified from full “citizenship  rights” and his or her allegiance is questioned on the basis that they hold dual  nationality, this is not only myopic but hypocritical, primitive thinking. The  intense passion and interest which many Diaspora Belizeans have demonstrated  regarding the ongoing Guatemalan claim and the proposed ICJ option is a clear  reflection of the love and fraternal relationship they hold toward Belize. If  the nation of Belize were to be militarily invaded/attacked, there is no  question a vast segment of the able-bodied Belizeans with military and actual  combat experience living abroad would volunteer to fight for their homeland.

 

What greater betrayal and damage has been done to  the nation state of Belize over the past quarter century than by those who swear  to defend and uphold the national patrimony and sovereignty of the state but  hold more allegiance to a political entity effectively subordinating the state?  Indeed, the actions, behavior and policies that have seen most of the nation’s  arable land sold to foreign interests, vital industries usurped, selling of  Belizean citizenship (passports), oil drilling concessions with ties to cronies  and family members, and outright pillaging of the national treasury for personal  gain – who is the real enemy of the Belizean state?

As I sat with one of Belize’s sages and  historians recently, Imam Ismael Shabazz, and asked for his insight on the 7th  amendment, Shabazz in his wisdom reminded me that the real substance of the 7th  amendment should not only include the right to hold public office, but indeed “voting rights” of Belizean citizens in the Diaspora. This idea is not new.  However, it has been resisted by the political elite, including many of the  so-called progressive thinkers among us. The arguments made were that Belizeans  living abroad would not be familiar with the issues on the ground and therefore  they were uninformed and out of touch. This argument was made in the early  1970’s and perhaps had some validity forty years ago. However, the world has  drastically changed over the past quarter century and the speed, access and  advancement of technology and cyberspace have essentially obliterated this  argument. Belizeans regularly interact with each other via social media,  participate in call-in radio/TV talk shows, and have access to the various media  outlets online.

Over 100 nations, large and small, allow their  Diaspora the right to vote in local elections. These include Mexico, El  Salvador, Venezuela, Britain, Germany, Spain, Denmark, Norway, Switzerland,  United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines, and France.  Given the share size of the Belizean population living abroad and the  decades-old impact of remittances to families back home, the vast majority of  Diaspora Belizeans have maintained a solid relationship with their homeland.  According to the World Bank remittance report, the remittances to Central  America, which included Belize, in 2007 had reach a colossal US$ 12.1 billion.  The report also stated that in some of these countries the remittances are equal  to some 10% of the entire GDP. In the case of Belize, the report shows, for  example, that Belizeans in the Diaspora in 2004/05 had made remittances  estimated to be over US$ 160 million.

Whether the current administration (or future  ones) will move swiftly and strategically to reclaim its citizens living abroad  as an integral component of its national developmental platform, remains to be  seen. But whether the political elite act or not, the Belizean people, along  with progressive grassroots movements should take the lead. Belizeans abroad  have been actively engaged in supporting grassroots organizations like the  Belize Territorial Volunteers and BGYEA, among many other charitable efforts on  the ground. This kind of fraternal collaboration and operational unity must be  supported and encouraged between Belizeans at home and aboard for the sake of  our self-preservation and survival.

It is my opinion that much of the resistance to  the 7th amendment was essentially the result of the way in which it was crafted  and presented. The original (amendment) was presented to the Belizean public in  2009, and tragically, in keeping with the typical ad hoc/ top down fashion in  which policies are formulated in Belize, provided the ideal climate for  speculation and misinformation. No real engagement with the community, from the  inception of the idea stage to formulation and proper public education so the  people could understand the purpose and benefit of the proposed change, was  carried out.

Secondly, at no stage of this proposed 7th  amendment fiasco was the constituency most affected, the (Diaspora Belizeans)  themselves, invited to participate in the process. They were essentially left  out of the actual discussion. Not only would it have made perfect sense to have  included the Belizean Diaspora in the formulation of the policy proposal, but  most importantly in the public and educational dialogue with their brothers and  sisters in Belize.

As a consequence of the flawed approach,  propaganda and partisan rhetoric took over and subsequently the merits and  demerits of the actual amendment became completely lost in the process. The  vitriol that ensued was reflective of the deep-seated residual effect of  colonialism that still permeates our worldview. Talking points filtered via  partisan bickering became the norm, instead of dialogue and constructive debate.  So yet again, because of the choke hold of petty party politics on our  perceptual apparatus, a shameful law that discriminates against thousands of  Belizeans and relegates them to second class citizenship status in the place of  their birth, remains intact and activated to this day.

“We Keep Going Forward” Towards What Destination? by Jeremy A. Enriquez


A Journey through Garifuna History:
After 210 years in Belize, “We Keep Going Forward” Towards What Destination? by Jeremy A. Enriquez
Published in Amandala, (www.amandala.com.bz)
Sunday Nov. 18, 2012

Reprinted on twocanview.com with the Permission of Jeremy A. Enriquez

Jeremy A. Enriquez

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jeremy A. Enriquez provides a very important and many times missing part of Belizean History.  Our plight as African descendants (Garinagu and Creoles)  has a very important interwoven historical significance.  Please read as Jeremy present the Garinagu important contribution to the development of Belize.  A.L.

 

Amidst the challenging socioeconomic realities of Garifuna communities and the constraints of Garifuna leadership to collectively define, promote and pursue development opportunities for their people, the annual revelry that defines Garifuna Settlement Day has served to reaffirm among Garinagu their cultural survival against all odds throughout the two centuries that they have lived in Belize. The mere survival of Garifuna culture after the attempts by the British superpower to exterminate it is still quite an exceptional feat to celebrate.

Following the unsuccessful defense of their homeland territory of St. Vincent against the British invaders in 1797, the Garinagu were rounded up loaded in ships and exiled almost two thousand miles away to the most barren sections of the island of Roatan, then another British territory. About two decades earlier, the British had considered returning this rebellious group of fierce warriors to Africa but that would have been too costly. Roatan was a strategic decision. It ensured that the Garinagu would be permanently separated and kept very far away from their homeland and from other British territories such as Jamaica, Barbados, Dominica or Trinidad and Tobago where slavery still existed. This forced deportation was to ensure that the Garinagu fomented no other rebellion. Those who were allowed to remain in St. Vincent were legally banned from all expressions of their ancestral culture until its extinction.

This year marks 210 years since the Garinagu first arrived in Belize. They came in 1802 as the first group of free people to settle in Belize: – decades before the Mestizos settled the north in the late 1840s and before the Mayas returned in the 1880s in flight from brutally oppressive labor conditions in Guatemala.

Technically, the Garinagu were not welcomed in Belize as the settlement was still a slave society. There was fear amongst the English settlers in Belize Town that the Garinagu, as free blacks who were well known for the fierce war that they fought at St. Vincent only five years earlier, might not be completely loyal to them and might even foment rebellion among the slaves. Consequently, a strict ban was imposed to prevent them from staying in the settlement for more than forty eight hours and a hefty fine was set for anyone who hired or employed any Garifuna within the settlement. In compliance with the law, Garinagu formed their own settlements south of the Sibun River border where they have remained ever since. Seeds of discrimination and mistrust were also planted by the masters among the slaves to ensure that the two groups of Afro-descendants – one enslaved and the other free – remained separated. Such seeds have largely remained firmly rooted in the collective psyche of the royal descendants such that to date there remains the lack of genuine interest in the roots of their common bond and the systemic exclusion of Garinagu from higher offices in the public, judiciary, diplomatic and other services.

Today, relative to all Afro-descendant people throughout all the Americas and the Caribbean, the Garinagu remains one of the very few who have kept their unique African-indigenous hybrid ancestral language, their ancestral spirituality, food, music and other aspects of their traditional culture all intact. For that reason on May 18th 2001, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, UNESCO, proclaimed the Garifuna language, music and dance a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. These alone are exceptional accomplishments to proudly celebrate.

Besides all that, however, within the bubble of Belize’s rather colonially-oriented and city-centric versions of its historical awareness and discourse, there seems very little knowledge and appreciation of the critical contribution of the Garinagu in shaping the nation’s economic, territorial, and cultural history.

Shortly after the first group of Garinagu arrived in Belize in 1802 and perhaps as early as 1799, as a rare group of free blacks in the region during the time of slavery, they became the primary agents for two of the most prevailing European interests: – (i) the commercial interest of Belizean woodcutters to expand Belize’s lucrative mahogany interests further south beyond the legally established Sibun River boundary, and (ii) the evangelizing interests of European, later American, priests to expand the Catholic faith to various ethnic groups all over Belize.

By the late 1790s, the major economic activity in the Belize settlement was the harvesting of mahogany for export. Mahogany had replaced logwood which had declined in demand since the 1770s when the use of synthetic dye became more popular. Prior to the arrival of the Garinagu, the Belizean logwood contractors were forced to grapple with two major economic challenges that threatened the very existence of the settlement. Firstly, virtually all the stands of mahogany within Belize’s legally established territory had been depleted. In order to satisfy the steep demand for mahogany in Europe, it was critical for the Belizean contractors to expand their operations south of the Sibun River – a territory which was outside the limits of Belize’s boundary as established in 1786 by the Convention of London.

Secondly, the plan for expansion of the woodcutting operations was constrained by a severe labor shortage in Belize. In the 1790s, several of the slaves (who comprised seventy five percent of the population of the Belize settlement) had escaped to nearby Spanish territory in Mexico or Peten. Given the frequent and heavy losses of slaves, and constant threats of slave rebellion, the woodcutters desperately needed a reliable source of labor. They would either have to import more slaves and risk further losses or hire labor from among the Garinagu. By that time the Garinagu had made themselves well known in the region for their intelligence, independence, resilience, discipline, strong physique, hard work and excellent maritime skills. Consequently, they became eagerly sought after as the prime source of labour for the mahogany industry.

Emboldened by their resistance against Spanish invaders in September 1798, and with the prospect of a new and reliable source of labor, the Belizean contractors decided to ignore the established Sibun River boundary of the Belize settlement and expand their operations further south. In 1802, they sought and were granted permission by the Superintendent of the settlement, R. Basset, to import 150 Garifuna labourers from Roatan to be employed as woodcutters. With some government assistance, many of them were shipped and many more managed to find their way to the southern coast of Stann Creek and Toledo Districts.

The early influx of Garinagu in 1802, and the subsequent major influx in 1823 to seek refuge from civil wars in Central America, provided a major boost in the pool of labor to expand the operations for the Belizean timber contractors. For decades, the eager, hardworking and skilled Garifuna woodcutters penetrated the dense forests south of the Sibun River all the way to the Sarstoon River. The ill-feelings they harboured against the British following their deportation a few years earlier had been set aside as they focused on own their economic survival. It was not unusual for Garifuna women and children to accompany the men to the lumber camps. The stable pool of labor from the Garinagu derived great economic benefits for the Belizean contractors and the settlement. Along with the booming mahogany trade, the communities that the Garinagu established helped to lay the foundation for the expansion of Belize’s territory from the Sibun to the Sarstoon River, until it was formally incorporated as part of Belize in the Anglo-Guatemalan Treaty of 1859.

Given the tremendous involvement of the Garinagu to ensure a lucrative supply of mahogany, it is unfortunate that Belize’s history hardly admits that one of the two black men symbolized in Belize’s Coat of Arms is the Garifuna man. The other is the enslaved African Creole man whose forced labor harvested all the remaining stands of mahogany north of the Sibun. The tremendous labor of both groups formed the backbone of the economic history of Belize – shoulder to shoulder, under the shade of the tree.

As for the Garifuna women, their primary productive work was in agriculture. It was they who produced much of the foodstuffs, chickens and pigs for sale in Belize.

Over decades, the tough rigors of their work in forestry, their strong maritime culture, their harsh history of battle against European powers and subsequent deportation, their Catholic background, as well as their productivity, natural intelligence, facility for language and resilience had all molded among the Garinagu the pioneering spirit and work ethic that made them and their descendants prime candidates for the Catholic church to establish its schools throughout the remotest areas of Belize.

They were the first group of Catholics to arrive in Belize. The first Catholic church was established in 1832 amongst those residing near Mullins River. The earliest date recorded in which a Catholic priest conducted missionary work in Punta Gorda was in 1841. In May 1845 Jesuit priests built a church and established its first mission in P.G. long before there was any mission other parts of the country.

Garifuna men were well known to provide many of the best school teachers in the colony. To be employed as teachers they had to possess a reasonably solid and above average education, qualities of leadership, good character, a pioneering spirit and the physical and mental stamina and adaptability to survive harsh, rugged life in these remote settings. They were also recognized by the Jesuits to possess a natural ability to teach and the mental aptitude to learn different languages. From the 1870s to the 1970s, Garifuna men were trained and deployed by the Jesuits as teachers/catechists to spread education and the faith to rural communities all over Belize. Primary education was the tool used to facilitate indoctrination into, and spreading of, the Catholic faith. It is not surprising then, that as a natural progression from the foundations laid by their ancestors, a number of Garifuna men became priests and a number of women became nuns. Bishop O. P. Martin, formerly a Garifuna teacher, became the first Belizean Roman Catholic Bishop. Although the Garinagu became steeped in Catholicism, however, the secrets and practices of their ancestral spirituality remains firmly rooted, even among their priests and nuns.

Interestingly, as the brightest and the best Garifuna leaders were deployed to serve other people and other communities throughout the length and breadth of Belize over several decades, this brain drain has arguably diluted the likely powerful development impact on their own Garifuna communities to result in the impoverished and vulnerable socioeconomic conditions that these communities face today.

Despite the solid economic and cultural contributions that Garinagu has made to Belize’s development, the legacy of embedded colonial value system has continued to keep them marginalized and often treated as second class citizens in their own country. This same colonial mindset and value system is also evident in the condescending behavior towards indigenous peoples who seek to maintain their own ancestral cultural values. Such state of affairs is yet to be uprooted in order to transform our society into a truly inclusive Belizean one. At the same time as Garinagu remain proudly inspired by the tremendous contribution of their ancestors, someday when the current generation becomes the future ancestors, the new generation will ask: How dedicated and effective were the elders in promoting and pursuing opportunities that ensure the wellbeing of current and future generations? Given the power of ancestors in Garifuna culture, what sort of ancestor will you be? Wawansera Mémeba Lau Lubafu Bungiu hama Áhari – We Keep Going Forward with the Power of God and the Ancestors.

Salima Barrow takes on Cancer…


Salima Barrow

Young Salima Barrow was apprehensive as she witnessed her mother , Mrs. Kim Simplis Barrow, go thru the fight of her life. She wanted to do something to honor her mother and wanted to raise funds while raising Cancer Awareness. I spoke to 7 year old Salima tonight and she is excited to be able to contribute in some way. She said she wanted to do something “a long long long time ago, from she was 3 but her mommy would not let her”. She made me smile.  I am sure in her mind,  her mother must have been battling Cancer for as long as she can remember. Children have simple yet powerful ways of articulating their feelings.    Salima is only 7 and time is relative for her. A year of missed events with her mom must have felt like forever.  Salima knows the importance of raising funds to help with the life saving treatments for kids with Cancer.  Salima is a young lady with a plan to raise “lots of  money”  for cancer. She also wants to meet the kids affected by cancer.  When I was a child myself , I witnessed too many of my own family members afflicted, so I wholeheartedly embrace and endorse her drive.   Please assist Salima, along with a few of her friends,(Haley, Abigail & Gianni) and the generous sponsorship of Bowen and Bowen,  in a worthwhile fund raising event to help fund the Children’s Cancer Wing. I have pledged $100.00 and hope you can donate  or support her initiative by attending the event and purchasing a few drinks.  Remember,  Cancer is a disease that does not discriminate.  Salima’s class from Hummingbird Elementary School will also be having a similar event on November 30, 2012.

AL

Daily Dingleberry 08-24-12 Wheel and Leave The House ‘Till You Learn Some Manners


This is irksome and tragic….we need better quality  leadership than this. One in a position of authority should handle himself with a certain decorum, his influence with caution…this is a shameful display of immaturity and disrespect for his office, the government and the people….this show of machismo was unnecessary and frankly scary. The following is a long winded response to a question posed by Julius Espat.
Dean Barrow
“Mr. Speaker, as I believe you pointed out, he has to learn that in fact in here you and the standing orders govern and so he needs to learn these standing orders. He needs to try to educate himself; he needs to try to school himself so that he may be able to apply the standing orders to his duty. This is what forms the matrix of his representation and when he does that he will perhaps learn how properly to ask questions in order to get the answers that he seeks. Now, why have I engaged in this fairly long, prefatory introduction? Because you see Mr. Speaker, in terms of his question, I can say categorically that Ambassador Mark Espat has been appointed as an ambassador for economic affairs without any kind of remuneration. He gets no salary at all, no pay for that. With respect to the Debt Renegotiation Team, this is where the member gets into trouble. If he had the wit and sense and if he had perhaps studied his standing orders he might have framed his question differently because, you see, as he has put it down the short answer is that Mark Espat also gets absolutely no money, no pay, no remuneration for his work with the Debt Renegotiation Team. There is a company called Hallmark Advisory Ltd. and it’s with that entity that the government has entered into a contract. You may have framed, you might have, as I said if you had the wit and sense, you might have framed your question in such a way that I could have given you the answer. But since you asked specifically whether Mark Espat is being paid the short answer is no. Now you can come back next time and ask me about the professional rates of fees that are part of the contract with Hallmark Advisory and I will be more than happy to give the answer to you but yoh know how ears hard pickney haffi go da market two times, wheel and come again.”

Mein….leave all that posturin for the dancehall…pull up yu pantz G.

Special Rapporteur defends Caleb Orozco and demands action from GOB


Excellency,

We have the honour to address you in our capacity as Special Rapporteur on the  promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression and Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders pursuant to General Assembly resolution 60/251 and to Human Rights Council resolutions 16/4 and 16/5.
In this connection, we would like to bring to your Excellency’s Government’s  attention information we have received concerning the alleged attack against Mr. Caleb Orozco.  Mr.  Orozco  is  the  President  of the  United  Belize Advocacy Movement (UNIBAM), an organisation which works on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGTB) rights in Belize.

According to the information received:

On the afternoon of 8 February 2012, Mr. Caleb Orozco was attacked on George Street, Belize City. Allegedly, Mr. Orozco was first threatened by unidentified men shouting anti-gay slurs. According to reports, one of the men then threw a beer bottle at him, hitting him in the face. It is reported that Mr. Orozco suffered damaged teeth and bruising to the face as a result of the attack.

According to  the  information  received,  Mr.  Orozco  has  filed  a police report; however, it is reported that the police have not identified the perpetrators.
According to the information received, Mr. Orozco has frequently appeared in national media in relation to UNIBAM’s advocacy work to remove a provision of the  Criminal  Code that  allegedly criminalizes same-sex sexual  activity. Furthermore, it is reported that he has been portrayed in an extremely negative light in the media by individuals and organizations who oppose his work.

Concern is expressed that the alleged attack against Mr. Orozco may be directly related to his legitimate human rights work and his legitimate exercise of his right to  freedom  of expression, particularly his  advocacy for  LGBTI rights  in  Belize. Further concern is  expressed  for the  physical  and  psychological  integrity of Mr.  Orozco, particularly in  light  of the  negative portrayals  of Mr.  Orozco  which  have allegedly appeared in the media.

While we do not wish to prejudge the accuracy of these allegations, we wish to  remind your Excellency’s Government that Belize, as a State party to the International  Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), has a duty to guarantee equal protection before the law and to prohibit discrimination on any ground. The words “or any other grounds” in article 26 of the ICCPR have been interpreted to include sexual orientation. Furthermore, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has found in numerous cases  that  discrimination  on  the  grounds  of  sexual  orientation  is  not  permitted  under  international human rights law.
We would  like to  refer  your  Excellency’s  Government  to  the  fundamental  principles set forth in the Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, and in particular articles 1 and 2 which state that “everyone has the right individually or in association with others, to promote and to strive for the  protection  and  realization  of human  rights  and  fundamental  freedoms at  the  national and international levels” and that “each State has a prime responsibility and duty to protect, promote and implement all human rights and fundamental freedoms, inter alia,  by adopting such steps as may be necessary to create all conditions necessary in the  social, economic, political and other fields, as well as the legal guarantees required to  ensure that all persons under its jurisdiction, individually and in association with others, are able to enjoy all those rights and freedoms in practice”.

With regard to article 7 of the Declaration on human rights defenders, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders has stated that the right to develop  and discuss new human rights ideas is enshrined in the Declaration on Human Rights  Defenders as an important provision for the ongoing development of human rights. This  includes the right to discuss and advocate for human rights ideas and principles that are not necessarily new but that, in some contexts, may be perceived as new or unpopular because they address issues that might challenge tradition and culture. In this connection, the  Special  Rapporteur has  encouraged  States  to  do  the  necessary to  guarantee the principle of pluralism and recognize the right of defenders to promote and advocate for  new human rights ideas or ideas that are perceived as new. She has further encouraged States to take additional measures to ensure the protection of defenders who are at greater risk of facing certain forms of violence and discrimination because they are perceived as  challenging accepted  sociocultural  norms,  traditions,  perceptions  and  stereotypes,  including about sexual orientation and gender identity.

We would also like to recall resolution 17/19 of the Human Rights Council, where the Council expressed grave concern at acts of violence and discrimination, in all regions of the  world,  committed  against individuals  because of their  sexual  orientation  and  gender identity.

Furthermore, article 12 paras 2 and 3 of the Declaration which provide that the  State shall  take all necessary measures  to  ensure the  protection  by the  competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats,  retaliation,  de facto  or de jure adverse discrimination,  pressure or any other  arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the Declaration. In this connection, everyone is entitled, individually and in association  with others, to be protected effectively under national law in reacting against or opposing, through peaceful means, activities and acts, including those by omission, attributable to States that result in violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms, as well as acts  of violence perpetrated  by groups  or individuals  that  affect the  enjoyment  of human  rights  and  fundamental  freedoms. In  this  regard,  the  Inter-American  Commission  on Human Rights (IACHR) has granted precautionary measures for LGBTI human rights  defenders in cases where they are faced with substantial threats to their physical and  psychological integrity, as provided for under article 25 of the rules of procedure of the  IACHR.

We would  also  like to appeal  to  your  Excellency’s  Government  to  take all necessary steps to secure the right to freedom of opinion and expression in accordance with fundamental principles as set forth in article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which provides that “Everyone shall have the right to freedom  of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the  form of art, or through any other media of his choice.”
In addition, we would like to call the attention of your Excellency’s Government to General Comment no. 34 of the Human Rights Committee, which urges States to “put  in place effective measures to protect against attacks aimed at silencing those exercising  their right to freedom of expression”; stresses that under no circumstance “can an attack on a person, because of the exercise of his or her freedom of opinion or expression,  including such forms of attack as arbitrary arrest, torture, threats to life and killing, be compatible with article 19” of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; and affirms that “[a]ll such attacks should be vigorously investigated in a timely fashion,  and  the  perpetrators  prosecuted, and  the  victims,  or,  in the  case of killings,  their representatives, be in receipt of appropriate forms of redress”.

We urge your  Excellency’s  Government  to  take all necessary measures  to guarantee that the rights and freedoms of the above mentioned person are respected and, in  the  event  that  your  investigations  support  or suggest  the  above allegations  to  be correct, the accountability of any person responsible of the alleged violations should be ensured. We also request that your Excellency’s Government adopt effective measures to  prevent the recurrence of these acts.
In view of the urgency of the matter, we would appreciate a response on the initial  steps  taken  by your Excellency’s Government  to  safeguard  the  rights  of the  abovementioned person in compliance with the above international instruments.
Moreover,  it is  our  responsibility under  the  mandates  provided  to  us  by the Human Rights Council, to seek to clarify all cases brought to our attention. Since we are expected to report on these cases to the Human Rights Council, we would be grateful for your cooperation and your observations on the following matters, when relevant to the case under consideration:

1. Are the facts alleged in the summary of the case accurate?
2. Has a complaint been lodged by or on behalf of the alleged victim?
3. Please provide the  details,  and  where available  the  results,  of  any investigation, and judicial or other inquiries carried out in relation to this case. If no  inquiries have taken place, or if they have been inconclusive, please explain why.
4. Please provide  the  full  details  of any prosecutions  which  have been undertaken. Have penal, disciplinary or administrative sanctions been imposed on the alleged perpetrators?
5. Please indicate what protective measures have been or will be taken to protect the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Caleb Orozco, in order to ensure that he can exercise his legitimate activities in defence of human rights.

We undertake to ensure that your Excellency’s Government’s response to each of these questions is accurately reflected in the report we will submit to the Human Rights Council for its consideration.
Please accept, Excellency, the assurances of our highest consideration.

Frank La Rue
Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of  opinion and expression

Margaret Sekaggya
Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders

Gay Rights Activist Physically Attacked

The Jim Jones Kool Aid by: Aria Lightfoot


The rhetoric of any organization to promote their agenda is expected except of course when the agenda is fraught with dubious intentions.  As a society I find that we Belizeans are gullible, forgiving and downright too trusting of strangers, except when it is our own people! How many people will it take to screw over Belizeans before we develop an innate sense of distrust and begin questioning as opposed to simply accepting?

Lately several prominent church leaders have been tacitly making statements to garner public opinion.  One that really caught my eye was equating secularism to religion.  To the casual eye that may mean absolutely nothing, but when you start digging into the organization and association of who are making these statements, you get a nervous feeling in the pit of your stomach as the agenda of these leaders become evident. (More on that theory later)  When someone compares secularism to religion, they are saying that religion has an equal place as secularism.  Secularism is the belief that civil policy (government business) should be conducted without the introduction of a religious element.  It is the theory of separation of church and state.

Why would church leaders want to introduce the Bible into government? Sounds like a great idea right? I mean Belize is a God fearing country and what is wrong in letting God decide what is good for us with the guidance of the Church leaders?  Well here is the problem. It is estimated that there are over 38,000 versions of Christianity which does not even take into consideration other religions and their differing versions.  Each religion believes their interpretation of the Bible, Koran, and Torah etc.  is true.  Each religion believes they are the only true path to God. Let us not forget the terrible incidences with religious fanaticism where thousands have died following behind some charismatic leader such as David Koresh, Jim Jones , Osama Bin Laden and a few other nut cases.

The idea of separation of church and state was borne from the pursuit of religious freedom.  Pilgrims (initially) and Jews  left Europe in droves running away from the strong and many times brutal and unforgiving control of the Catholic Church.  When they decided to form what is now the United States of America, they did not want to recreate a country where one religion dominated the thoughts and actions of everyone. They wanted the ability to worship freely without the state dictating whose God was the right God.

When people try to sell me religion in a forceful manner and dictate their righteousness on me, I instantly become suspicious of that person’s true relationship with Jesus.  Being a Christian is trying to replicate the life of Jesus.  I have never read anywhere where Jesus was ever on a pulpit damning anyone to a fiery pit. In fact throughout the Bible, Jesus on many occasions challenged the status quo on the treatment of sinners, reached out to his enemies and declared that God was not for one chosen race.   The only time in the bible when Jesus showed any aggression was towards the church and some of their leaders.  Many people can quote Bible verses but have no true grasp of the man they claim to follow. They quote controversial Leviticus verses calling for the death of sinners, especially gay sinners but fail to see that following Leviticus today would render them in jail or the mental asylum. So who is more important to you as a Christian, the words of Jesus or the words of Leviticus?

So my natural curiosity led me down a path of trying to examine the man who is creating such religious awakening in Belize. I always find it interesting when a young man would leave a first world country and move to a “third world country” such as Belize with his entire family. A man called Jim Jones did something similar when he moved to Guyana.   I began to ask about Scott Stirm, a native of Waco Texas. (hmmm sounds eerily similar to another fanatic).

Scott is affiliated with a Ministry in the US called Extreme Prophetic Ministries.  Patricia King in the following video describes Scott Stirm as their “missionary in Central America, Belize” and called him a “prophet and wonderful intercessor:  see Prophet .  David Koresh was also called a prophet.  There is nothing troubling about this video until you start to examine who Patricia King, the speaker is.

Patricia King belongs to this ministry in the United States called Extreme Prophetic Ministries that reportedly is a part of the hardcore Seven Mountains Dominionism movement, which is also linked to the New Apostolic Reformation movement.  Seven Mountains dominionism seeks to place Christians in control over the seven forces that shape and control our culture: (1) Business; (2) Government; (3) Media; (4) Arts and Entertainment; (5) Education; (6) Family; and (7) Religion.    I want my readers to grasp the order of which this is placed; business first and then government.  Are they attempting “shape and control” Belize?  Do you see any hard core personalities in the media today affiliated with Stirm? Didn’t they recently pressure the Minister of Education in his educational materials?    I also read somewhere that Stirm is training a radical new set of Christians. Radical means favoring drastic political…reforms.   Seven Mountains theology, believes that Jesus “doesn’t come back until He’s accomplished the dominion of nations.”  And the way “dominion of nations” is accomplished is by having Christians gain control of these “seven mountains” in order to install a “virtual theocracy” overseen by “true apostles” who will fight Satan and his Antichrist agenda.” Explain to me again how they are preserving Belizean culture by this advocacy?  Who will be these true apostles running the new theocracy of Belize?

Additionally Patricia King has a reputation in Arizona for going to morgues and trying to raise the dead. Yes Raise the Dead! Check it out: Raised from the Dead   Yikes…Nothing strikes me as crazy as the lady who believes she has Jesus power!  She also makes a lot of infomercials and peddles the word of God for profit.  Selling God.  If you are buying God, they will sell it.  I still cannot grasp how the established churches in Belize are part of this nightmare!  Shame on the Catholic and Anglican Churches!

I also found a long winded piece called Time and Eternity (which is about how long it takes to read it) at Time and Eternity . The writer was impressed with Scott Stirm and describes Stirm as someone who “ had given up drugs, booze and living on the wild side a little over two years earlier as a sophomore in high school. Scott had “given his life to the Lord”.”   Obviously he didn’t descend from sainthood.  Please know that I am not judging him, I mean we all make mistakes and fall short of God’s Grace.  However, I believe Belizeans need to know they are part of a bigger agenda that is borne out of the Ministry where the crazy lady tries to raise the dead and calls Stirm their prophet.

Finally Lauren Jacoby gives her account of visiting Belize in her blog. In her blog she boasts of Stirm power in Belize as “key leader in Belize” and having contact with thousands of pastors in Belize (we have thousands of pastors?)  and Belmopan being the spiritual hub of Belize?  Whoa..Spiritual hub? What snake oil are they selling people? (see blog )  Whatever they are selling, they have done a great job of selling it in Belize.

So convincing is this movement in Belize that even the original bullshitters, the politicians of both parties, made testimonials about their commitment to God.   Stirm have incited debate and incited fear and hate. They are steering the “Christians” to selectively battle the “abomination” of homosexuality while ignoring the other 50 abominations plaguing Belize.  Wake up Belize, this agenda has nothing to do with homosexuality. They just knew that waving the homo flag in a homophobic country of ours would blind us to their true agenda.  They got the prominent churches, politicians, attorneys, many well intentioned citizens in such a state of fear that they have joined a misguided agenda. A lie is dependent on the innocence of the believer. However, with all the news of church leaders using and misusing faithful believers, I find our blinding faith incredulous bordering on stupidity.

I will be the first to say we have been hoodwinked, tricked, deceived and there is a bigger agenda at play. The Jubilee Ministries of Scott Stirm is connected to Patricia King, a self-proclaimed dead raiser, who seeks to control Belize via the seven forces.  Have fun drinking the Jim Jones kool aid Belizeans but know that sweet taste in your mouth is poison!

Jackee Burns breaks the status quo “silence” by: Aria Lightfoot


Jackee Burns- Picture taken a day before her violent rape

Belize has a well-known secret that is an uncomfortable truth to talk about.  Many women are victims of child sexual predators and rape. It is estimated that one in four women are victims of sexual abuse.  After writing my piece about Jasmine Lowe, several people shared their personal abuse experiences with me.  Fayemarie shared her personal experience on Twocanview.armchair-psychologists-why-he-is-not-a-monster-by-fayemarie-anderson-carter-ma

The nameless and faceless victims shared stories of well-respected men in the society who fondled and abused them. They shared stories of family members, neighbors, shopkeepers and strangers who were never brought to light or prosecuted for their deviancy because they either never came forward or when they did, those who should protect them preferred to pretend the abuse never happened.   Belize has unknowingly and unfortunately created an inviting culture for vultures and predators to thrive while sexual abuse becomes taboo and shameful for the victim.  Every night in Belize some child has “dark shadows” lurking in their bedrooms.

My story today is a powerful survivor named Jackee Burns, a teacher in Belmopan.  She shared her traumatic and chilling experiences first as a child and then as an adult victim of a violent rape.  She finally opened up to her mother knowing she was telling me this story.  She feels that each time she shares her story, a part of her continues to heal within.

Jackee Burns is a respected teacher and has a compelling story to tell.  She in her own way is fighting the status quo of silence and emerging as a trusted entity for victims. Jackee endured two traumatic experiences in her life, one as a five year old child who was unable to articulate her experiences when she was violated by her very own uncle and another violent rape as a young adult charting out in her new life.

At the age of five years old, Jackee’s dad moved in his younger 13 year brother into his home.  The house was a modest house with three bedrooms and a family of seven.  Jackee’s teenage uncle slept in the living room on a cot. He did not stay there all the time, but when he did, she recalls a dark shadow entering her bedroom and lifting up her dress and fondling her.  As a young child she could not express what was happening to her and would not even open her eyes during the experience.  She recalls crying and the shadow would disappear.   She also has broken memories of being locked in a bedroom with her teenage uncle and remembering white substances on the sheet of the bed which she now knows was semen.

Jackee started complaining to her parents of a ghost that would come touch her from under her bed and so her father started to check in on her to make sure she would be okay. He would come in and make sure she fell asleep.   One fateful night, her uncle entered her room and was caught in the act by her father. Her father severely beat up his brother as Jackee recalls blood on the wall, and kicked him out the house.  Her father protected her by avoiding family members and never putting her in the situation again, however, it was never discussed. She was never asked the details of what happened.  Her own grandmother to this day refuses to believe the story.

Years later, Jackee viewed sex with shame. She recalls her first voluntary sexual experience and learning she was not a virgin. It was a devastating experience because it confirmed to her that at the tender age of five years old, Jackee was in fact raped by her uncle. In the U.S he would still be prosecutable. In Belize I am not sure how a victim can reclaim her power over her perpetrator.  We do not know if he is a child predator today. We do not know what deviancy continues to linger within him. He represents one of maybe hundreds of deviants walking around.  What became of this troubled young man?  He became a respected and published author who places himself in Jackee’s home as a teenager in his book. I perused his Facebook page and saw one picture with a young child in bathing suit. It concerns me when I see such predators in positions of trust around children.

Most children are resilient and many block such traumatic experiences.  Jackie I am sure completely pushed her abuse into the back of her mind.  It is the resiliency and survivorship of the human spirit that allows us to function in the face of very distressing experiences in our lives.  It is this spirit that Jackie carries within her as she is introduced to another type of predator, a predator that is violent, deadly and unforgiving.

Jackee decided to pursue a career in teaching. At the age of 21 years old, Jackee was now living in Corozal and was a popular teacher and enjoying her career.  On October 13, 2000 she met Peter Augustine for the first time. Peter Augustine was a well-known criminal and was only released from prison a week before.

In Jackee’s own words:

“I never knew Peter Augustine before, never even seen him ever. I lived in Corozal and was a very popular high school teacher at Corozal Community.  This was my forth year up there. I had a sweet lil house and prior to this year I had always had roommates.  Anyway, the morning of October 13, 2000, I got up and did some laundry. I got up around 5:30am. By 6:30 I went to the back door to put out the clothes. I had a bucket on the side porch.  I was pinning out one piece at a time and returning to the bucket for every new piece of clothing.  I wasn’t there very long and the back door near where I stood was ajar.

It seems that Peter Augustine hopped over the verandah and went inside when my back was turned.  When I went inside, he approached me. At first, I thought I was imagining him. I could not understand why a stranger was in my house.  I screamed and he placed a knife at my throat. I told him he could take whatever he wanted, just please don’t hurt me.  He didn’t answer me.  He started to pull me towards the bedroom and I understood what his intentions were.  I started to fight him, I bit him. I got cut in my hand as I held on to the knife fighting him. He punched me on my left cheek and I still continued to fight. He choked me by placing his thumbs on my neck. I started to lose consciousness and I eventually saw black and passed out.

When I woke up it was to the sound of my bed sheets being torn. He used it to tie my hands behind my back and blindfold me.  At this time I was having my period and that didn’t stop him.  He got on top of me and was having sex with me.  Even though I was blind folded, I saw a nipple ring on him. I disassociated from what was happening to me. I felt like I was watching him doing this to someone else. I mentally blocked out what was happening to me.  I believed he was in my home for about an hour.  When he was through, he took my jewelry. I thought he was going to kill me.   A student who lived behind my house came to the door and called my name repeatedly.  She saw my bathroom lights on and thought I was in the shower.  I pretended to be passed out so that he would not find it necessary to kill me. I heard the footsteps on the ground, he unlocked my door, which he had to have locked and he left.  When I was sure he was gone, I went to the front door with my hands still tied behind my back.  I had to open the door with my hands tied, I shouted to the student to run and I ran to my neighbor, an old couple in only t-shirts and they called the police.

Peter Augustine was arrested a few minutes after I arrived at the hospital in possession of my jewelry, with the bite mark on his shoulder and my blood all over him. My face was badly beaten and even today it still hurts. My lip has a permanent scar.”

Unfortunately, Jackee’s horrifying experience does not end there.  She relocated to her hometown of Belmopan.  A year later, she had to endure the criminal trial, which was done publicly.  She had to recount her story to a packed courtroom. She was crossed examined by the defendant. She said every time he said her name, she hated him more. She had to recount her entire sexual history in front of curious strangers; she also had to reveal her physical address to the court and defendant.  She was emotionally distraught by the entire ordeal.  She could not bear to stay for the outcome of the trial and later learned he was given 15 years in prison.  He only has three more years left on his 15 year sentence.

Peter Augustine escaped from prison after his incarceration which caused Jackee to fall to pieces because her address was publicly announced in the court case.   Peter Augustine was eventually recaptured in a village near Chetumal.  In that same village a girl was found raped and murdered however, he was never connected to the crime even though he was the only stranger in the village at the time.  There are no denying Jackee lives in fear knowing Peter Augustine will be released in three short years.  She says he gloats to people about raping a teacher and is rumored to have sodomized his cell mate in prison.

Jackee wants other victims to know that there is nothing wrong with them and they will survive.  It took Jackee a while to overcome her abuse and confront it.  She speaks to her students and tries to formulate support groups for rape victims but notes most people want to forget and move on. She sits with numerous rape victims who confide their pain in her.  One girl confided in her that she hated Christmas because she must associate with the men in her family that raped her.  Jackee welcomes anyone who wishes to discuss their personal pain with her.

There are many people who remain uncomfortable with this subject.  Jackee urges parents to speak openly to kids about sex. Teach them good and bad touches. Be a source for your children to run to. However it doesn’t end there. Our system must find a better way to protect the citizens of Belize. There must be a sexual predator website that tracks these predators when they are unleashed back into society.  Victims must be accommodated to tell their story. Their addressese should remain confidential. Our society must remove the shame placed on victims and reassign the shame to the perpetrator.  Our society need to start seriously monitoring men dating children under 18 years of age, even communities who have traditionalized pedophilia.

We must create a safe society for all our citizens especially our children and we must develop a social conscience and be protectors.  How can anyone ever truly claim to be a survivor when the society keeps people in victim status?  Unfortunately I was unable to find a picture of Peter Augustine, but be very uneasy that in three years a violent predator will be released back into society and there is no law stopping it and no picture to show you who he is!

Jackee’s Poems:

Pervert

He wrote about a time

I had long since buried

Six feet under

My sad horrific memories

His writing exumed

Buried memories

From the depths of hell

Where I thought

They coud never be dug up

But he resurrected

The stomach churning evil

That he did to me

He lifted my skirt

When I was a baby

And spoke adult language

To my innocent mind

In his dirty nasty language

Making his ugly body

Reveal itself

To my horrified eyes

His breath insulted my cheek

His smell chafed my stomach

His touch burnt my skin

How could this man be my kin

He hushed my objections

And covered my frightened eyes

With his huge hands

That covered my entire face

He ripped away

The pure white lace

And tore me to shreds

Now he is that monster

That vile monster

Who I cannot even

Look in the face

And now he dare writes

With enthusiasm and fun

About a time when

He lived in my daddie’s home

As if he does not recall

The ghastly deeds

He has done

I hate him

I have buried him

And I dont want him

Anywhere around me

 

Unwanted and uninvited

Bang! Bang!

The judge registered

Finality with his gavel

Pounding the end

Of the hearing i had to endure

15 years he got

15 years of free food

A guaranteed bed

He doesnt have to worry

His stomach will be fed

While I, his victim

Am traumatized and haunted

With a lifetime of nightmares

A lifetime of him

Haunting my days and my nights

Coming into my home

Unwanted and uninvited

Icy cold stares

In his strange eyes

Told me his temptations

And as my piercing scream

Eminated in goosebumps

All over my skin

And registered the

Metal blade

He palced at my throbbing throat

I saw my life

In flashes in front of

My scared eyes

Yes, I fought him

I sunk my teeth

In his steel muscles

And with all my fear

I bit in wid all my life

But he retaliated

And I saw stars

And felt the trickle

Of sticky blood ooze

Before darkness crept

Over me and wrapped me

In its tight bondage

Then gone I was

From my conscious self

As he invaded me

Entering unwanted and uninvited

I took back myself

I took back my power

And said he cannot

Have any part of me

That I am unwilling to offer

So as he entered flesh

In and out

My mind shut him out

Though I felt emotional distate

I looked from afar

As he hurt a body

But could not touch a soul

 

“Belize ”Boosts” School Attendance and Access to Financial Services for the Poor” : The World Bank


The deal is simple: vaccinate your children, send them to school; and, if you are pregnant, visit your public health center, regularly starting with the first 12 weeks. In exchange, the BOOST Program will give you a monthly allowance between BZ$44 and BZ$82 (US$22 – US$41) per person, up to a maximum of six per household.

The BOOST program, which stands for Building Opportunities for Our Social Transformation, provides small cash assistance to poor households subject to specific conditions.

A little over a year in operation, it already reaches 3,177 households (12.5% of all Belize poor households) and over 8,600 people, which represents about 6% of the poor population.

Despite the recent launch of the BOOST Program (February 2011), some of its current features already match or surpass best practices in the world. Recorded school attendance for children included in the program is at 97.3% (3238 of 3328 students, May 2012).

Thanks to this program, Rosario Chub from Punta Gorda, Toledo, is able to provide for the basic needs of her children and keep them in school.  “The Program is good. It is helping people. I am doing a lot with this little money. Now the children have shoes, food and uniforms.”

The program has also been positively received among school principals. Rossana Briceño, principal of St Peter’s Anglican School in Orange Walk, said that “at the end of the day, the kids are doing better.  Absenteeism is a lot less, and I see these children now and they want to come to school.”

I am doing a lot with this little money. Now the children have shoes, food and uniforms.

Rosario  Chub BOOST beneficiary

The program features a differentiated payment structure by grade and gender, to address relatively high drop-out rates for boys. These are added incentives to complete standard grades and advance into secondary education.

Access to bank services

The BOOST Program is also supporting poor households in accessing financial services, such as savings and micro-loans as a first step towards their financial independence.

BOOST is expanding membership of credit unions, and strengthening the savings and productive investment potential of beneficiary households. At present, 81% of the program beneficiaries receive safe, secure transfers at zero cost through the credit unions.

“I am now a member of the credit union and I want to start saving money for the children”, says Rosario Chub, who, like other beneficiaries, has also increased her access to saving and other financial services.

“The BOOST Program has achieved a level of financial inclusion of program beneficiaries that far exceeds similar programs that have been in operation for 15 years”,  said Rogelio Gomez Hermosillo, the former Director of the Oportunidades Program in Mexico, which reaches 30 million households.

In fact, a new report by the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP) finds a much higher rate of beneficiaries with access to bank services in BOOST than in the two largest conditional cash transfer programs in the region, at 43% in Brazil and 25% in Mexico.

The first step of a larger movement

For the past two years, the World Bank has provided technical assistance to support the design of the BOOST Program, including knowledge exchanges with conditional cash transfer experts from Jamaica and Mexico.

The new phase of technical assistance aims to provide flexible support to address the central operational challenges of the Program and make recommendations on different approaches to strengthen program operations.

“The BOOST Program represents a significant step forward to develop a smart social safety net that promotes human capital growth, savings, and productive investments by poor households, but it is only the first step of a larger movement that is needed to strengthen the quality and accountability of social spending in Belize,” says Sarah Berger Gonzalez, World Bank Social Protection Specialist.

Despite the advances, operational challenges remain, resulting from the rapid ramp-up, limited financing and small number of program personnel. Limited financial envelopes have resulted in the number of qualified, eligible households exceeding enrolment by 30%.

Other challenges include the need to strengthen communication of program objectives and responsibilities, coordination of actions across ministries, and monitoring of information to assess program impacts.

Source: http://www.worldbank.org/en/news/2012/06/28/belize-boosts-schoool-attendance-and-acces-to-financial-services-for-the-poor

Here is a discussion of the program when the PM was interviewed by Twocanview. https://twocanview.com/2012/03/26/an-interview-with-the-prime-minister-of-belize-by-aria-lightfoot-and-fayemarie-anderson-carter/