A storm is brewing …. by: Aria Lightfoot


Storm-Brewing-

Belize is facing an approaching tropical storm, possibly a small hurricane, and one cannot ignore the cosmic correlation of recent events involving Mason. Mason was introduced to the Belizean public as an expert or specialist offering services to aid the National Emergency Management Organization. Two weeks after the murder of Llewelyn Lucas, there have been a plethora of fallouts, accusations, restructuring, investigations with even more pending. In some poetic sense, Belize system is definitely under National Emergency Management Re-Organization of government – courtesy of William Mason.

Mason’s identity is still unknown. He has a Belize birth certificate with the name William Mason and Guyanese passport with the name Ramesh Oulette. My Guyanese friend informs me that Oulette is not a traditional Guyanese last name. A little bit of research on the name Oulette indicates that the name is French Canadian in origin. It is possible his mother could have been French Canadian but Mason’s true identity is essential in getting to the bottom of this mystery.

william mason

Danny Mason’s true identity is extremely important because he may be linked to other crimes in Belize and worldwide. The aliases circulating are Danny Mason, Thomas Tharakan, Jagdeep Chahal (picture does not look like him), Raj Oulette, Ted Oulette, Danny Ferguson, Danny Oulette, Ramesh Oulette and Ramesh Singh. As I browsed RipOff Report online comments, I found it interesting that several people in Belize, as early as 2014, were reporting his presence in Belize. There are reports of Mason in South Africa, Thailand and South America scamming people, using similar tactics he did in Belize, befriending unsuspecting victims and stealing their money. A friend confided that Mason, known to her as Danny Oulette, attempted to extort her aunt. Her aunt had to get the police involved and remove “Danny” from her land. She claims this was a few years ago and they thought he had left Belize and headed back to Canada.

This case has exposed a dangerous weakness in Belize’s identification system (maybe Guyana and Canada too) and a flagrant loophole indicating a lack of necessary checks and balances. Mason operated unfettered because he flashed money, made sizeable donations, was able to obtain fraudulent identity documents, gun licenses, property, status and access. All this with the admitted knowledge of the then Minister of Police and key police officers. The aftershock of this has yet to quantified. Mason’s operations have called every Belizean identity into question. He exposed Belize as a place that facilitates international criminals for the right price and with the knowledge of relevant authorities. The case highlights the ease to wash illicit funds through donations and investments; a revelation that could have dire consequences for Belize. Belize could face international repercussions such as de-risking and heightened security for all Belizean citizens worldwide. Whether or not the P.M. realizes this, there will be keen international monitoring of this case especially since Mason littered the world with victims. Mason could be wanted for serious crimes worldwide, even other murders. How Belize proceeds handling this will be vital.

The Prime Minister has done the necessary initial steps to cure some of the problems but there are so much more to be done. The PM must create the necessary legal checks and balances to ensure this level of abuse never again occurs. Mason may be the most sensational case, but criminals have entered and abused Belize’s lax system too many times. The PM has elevated credible people in the right places, but I urge him to also formulate a bipartisan team to assist those new leaders to correct the deficiencies in the system.

The P.M. must recognize that he represents the last vestiges of politicians whose personal service and reputation is the key to their political life. The new breed of politicians enters public life for personal and financial enrichment. They lack service and empathy for their country and people, they lack purpose and they lack a moral compass. The laws in Belize that originated from the days when handshakes sealed deals, does not align with this new era of politicians and criminals.

Currently, the Belizean people turn to Hon. Dean Barrow to solve problems, to hold his cabinet accountable and to fight on behalf of the nation of Belize. That is a difficult task to ask any one person to do. The current system does not create perpetuity and it is not conducive to promote proper development and not responsive to identify, analyze and eradicate corruption. I have heard many people echo that their support of UDP begins and ends with the current Prime Minister. What will happen to Belize when he retires? Belize system seemed to be designed for strong and principled leadership. A leadership game of Russian Roulette.Write-off

The electorate has grown in sophistication and knowledge due to the unprecedented access to information. People are understanding that leadership defines their identity, success, and generation’s future and they are growing weary of abuse. To forge a prosperous future for our children and children’s children, the laws and constitution must reflect a system of limits and accountability.

And Belize this is not over yet. It has been reported that a prominent CEO of the Government of Belize and former Director of immigration was denied access to the United States and her visa cancelled. Countries battling terrorism are likely very concerned about their own vulnerability when criminals can mask their identities in countries like Belize, Canada and Guyana. A red flag has been raised warning of a storm brewing.

Baked Again by: Aria Lightfoot


It is past time for women to take their rightful place, side by side with men, in the rooms where the fates of peoples, where their children’s and grandchildren’s fates, are decided.” 

Senator Hillary Clinton

 

women

On October 20, 2013, Colin BH wrote an article in the Amandala newspaper called “Bake it Again”.  Colin gave a whimsical and romanticized view of rape, even going as far as calling the act “natural” when it was against a female vs a male; more “heinous” when it was a male; and simultaneously victim-blamed and downplayed the effects of rape on women and children.  Unbelievably, Colin writes for a newspaper that thrives on black power, but actually celebrated centuries of raped slaves because it produced a “beautiful race” of Belizeans in his baked opinions.

Colin’s baked opinions became a significant symbol and a wake up call alerting Belizeans as why stronger child protection and gender laws are urgently needed.  Colin was expressing what he believed to be an appropriate response to the amendments to the Criminal Code that seeks to strengthen laws of Belize to protect children. The unfortunate reality is that Colin represented the views of quite a few men and women in Belize. One may even argue that he was merely stating what is a culturally accepted practice in Belize’s society.

Colin suffered un-remorseful foot-in-mouth disease and was clueless when confronted about his opinion.  He stated that he could not find anything distasteful about his article. Lets pray today, Colin is a little more mindful and educated on the social, political and emotional issues of traumatic and too often permanent debilitating effects of rape for all victims regardless of sex.

The uncomfortable truth is victim-blaming and rape, especially involving very young women and older men, are part of Belize’s culture.  I have witnessed many times when a significantly older man is caught with a child, comments on Facebook pages begin with a wave of abuse defenders stating that “she mi di look for it”;  “deh lee gial fast these days”;  “she da wa whore”; etc.; instead of recognizing it is an adult manipulating and abusing a child.

Pastor Willacy affair with a 16-year old student is a perfect example of the culture practiced in Belize. Willacy was a married principal from a religious school, a counselor and a pastor and he was well respected. He targeted a child who was entrusted in his care by the girl parent. He admittedly abused his position of trust and carried out a relationship with a child. In his case, many people openly attacked the young girl’s reputation and were willing to give the “good” pastor a break to abuse again.  Due to ineffective laws, nothing more than headlines came of this case. Pastor Willacy is just one of hundreds of cases every year in Belize.

Colin voice was necessary in this debate because it may be the first time that society was slapped into reality of how women and female children are perceived.  As a woman who played sports, I can attest to the views society openly promotes about women and girls.  I recall playing basketball in my youthful days and asked on numerous occasions if I didn’t have dirty dishes to wash (or something along that line), being underestimated as a viable opponent and being consistently sexual harassed on the court.

Women are not encouraged to be in male dominated arenas and it is evident even in our leadership arena.  Belize has one elected woman in the House of Representative even though women represent at least 50 percent of voters.  The Hon. Dolores Balderamos, Belize only elected woman, was mocked with sexist, vile and disparaging remarks during a public house meeting.  Previous female candidates have been raped or shamed with sexually explicit pictures circulated in the community.  Are we surprised that Belize is dead last in Latin America, Central America and the Caribbean when it comes to the empowerment of women?

Colin received a much deserving tsunami of public criticism from the Woman’s Issue Network, The Special Envoy for Women and Children, Amandala colleague Adele Ramos, National Committee for Family and Children and many other people, however, lets make this a beginning and not an end. Belize must begin the arduous task of reeducating Colin and many like him because he was simply expressing what many of us have seen and heard from our own fathers, brothers, husbands, lovers and friends. Women are different, unequal and warrant the treatment they receive.

As a society we must grow and learn from this pivotal point in our history.  Women must be supported and celebrated. Women are not like men and don’t want to be men, however, women are entitled to the same opportunities and respect as men.  We must empower our women and girls with messages of “yes you can”; “ you can be all you want to be”;  “go for it and take the road less travelled”;  “it is okay to have the same dreams as men”; ”it is okay to stand out and stand up”;  “your body is yours and no one controls who you are”.  Let’s not forget that women are the guardians, and teachers of the next generation therefore empowering a woman empowers next generation and it will empower Belize.

Colin BH response to criticism: http://amandala.com.bz/news/colin-bh-hot-seat/

bh colin

Sheree’s Dream – Lets Adopt a Classroom or School!


clipart_misc_school_objects

 

 

Early this year Sheree Arnold approached me with a novel idea- Lets Adopt a Classroom.  I really loved this idea.  Many Schools in the US are getting rid of the Valedictorian System and implementing a Cum Laude System instead. It is a system that rewards many children instead of just one child.  This Adopt a Classroom or School is something like that, it benefits many kids instead of just one.

I have personally sponsored a child in Belize thru Restore Belize and while it is fulfilling to be able to help a child see a child progress, I actually like Sheree’s proposal better.  Instead of benefitting one child, let’s enhance all their learning experiences.

 

             Here is a bit of the history behind the idea.

 

Two years ago Sheree ‘s sister passed away in Belize leaving behind her children, two of which are young children still in primary school and in the care of an older sibling.  Sheree is now financially supporting her niece and nephew.  It was the first time she was confronted with the struggles children in Belize are encountering in the educational system.

Sheree’s nephew is struggling with reading. One day her older niece decided to visit the classroom and sit in with her younger brother’s class to see what a day of school was like for him.  She reported to Sheree that many other children in the class were facing the same predicament. Poor reading skills, lack of supplies and an overwhelmed and under equipped school to handle the special needs and supplies for  children. Some kids are kicked out of class for not being able to purchase supplies. This is outrageous!

Sheree decided to shop at the discount stores in the U.S and ship books to alleviate her nephew’s  struggles with reading. She decided to shop at the dollar store in the United States for books to help with his reading and math skills , she realized that helping her nephew was not sufficient, due to the minimal cost associated with learning materials here in the US, she decided to adopt her nephew’s entire class and also asked a few friends to do the same.  She thought the idea could take root among the Belizean American community and Belizeans at home who may have the means to help out.

I personally reached out to several people in Belize who wanted to help and were more than willing to  help but organizing such an event would require full time participation. A luxury I don’t have.  I felt disappointed.

So I discussed with Sheree and we thought everyone who shares in a dream for a better, restored Belize could begin organizing their own Adopt a Classroom School drives.  Lets face it, education is very expensive in Belize. Families complain about spending 300 BZD  per child on school supplies that does not include uniform, shoes or lunch money.  Walmart and discount stores sell school items for a fraction of the cost in Belize.  Belizeans can make a positive difference.

The Belizean Association of Central Florida (BACF) embraced Sheree’s Dream and will be hosting a fundraiser/Picnic on July 6, 2013. I have also shared the idea with several people who are interested in doing something similar. Sheree is hoping this message resonates with our Belizeans home and abroad.  While researching online, I found that many schools in the U.S. already have a similar program and depend on the generosity of parents to help out kids who are less advantaged.

The following are some suggestions :

 

How to Adopt  A School or Class Room

 

Step 1: Identify the School or Classroom you are thinking about  adopting, preferable a school whose students are financially challenged.

 

Step 2: Reach out to the Teacher or Principal for the supply list that  each students would normally need

 

Step 2: Organize your fundraisers and own your adoption.

 

 

 

Ideas for Fundraisers

 

Idea #1:

Ask your organization such as your workplace or church to allow you a drop box where members can contribute school supplies.

Ask if they would be willing to match a dollar amount for contribute a stated amount.

 

Idea #2

Have a pool party/BBQ or get-together and ask your friends to provide school supplies when they come over

 

Idea#3

Start Collecting School Supplies today at any discount store

 

Idea #4

Organize with neighbors and friends to box items and mail to one of the following Belize Schools via one of the Belizean operated Shipping agents:

 

Idea #5

Have a bake sale and use all proceeds to buy classroom or school supplies.

 

Come on my fellow Belizeans and friends of Belizeans we have all summer to work on this idea- It will be fun, it will be productive and we can make a difference in lives of our future leaders in Belize.  Let’s organize and educate Belize. Please become part of the movement of positive changes and share with your friends and family.

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.

The Guatemalan Claim is being legitimized with the help of Belize by: Aria Lightfoot


Today, this is the OFFICIAL MAP of BELIZE

Today, this is the OFFICIAL MAP of BELIZE

Guatemala claim to Belize

Guatemala claim to Belize

It seems to me that Belize got Set up, Swindled and Hoodwinked, …before the suggestion to take Guatemalan’s claim to the ICJ , it seemed to be going well for Belize Internationally. We had our issues but we were developing…Guatemala for the most part was not an issue for us and the Guatemalan claim for Belize was dying a natural death; I would argue that any claim by Guatemala  in the world arena  would  be seen ridiculous as the world has given Belize LEGITIMACY in every world organization….

Lo and Behold, enter the brilliant yet inept legal minds in Belize, the ones who bill our taxpayers for self benefiting pursuits, the same brilliant legal minds who have yet to effectively address or solve our internal failing justice systems,  decides  to become legal super heroes  and take up a centuries old issue and solve a claim already settled with our induction into the U.N.  They agreed and signed a contract, without any previous consultation with the Belizean people, to risk our sovereignty.  They ask Belizeans NOW to trust them, and vote yes for our future to be determined by Judges who could care less how their vote affect us.  A vote where  ONLY Belize  stands to lose.

Today and 30 plus years after Independence we are being told by the very leaders who have raped our natural resources, our public coffers, enriched their family and friends and sold us out to the highest bidders to trust them wholeheartedly and take Belize claim to the ICJ to establish our  already established sovereignty…in their arrogance, unquenchable quest to prove to the world what is already accepted, over-confidence and maybe a sweet lingering anticipation for a Nobel Peace Prize or likely oil and trade contracts to fatten their law firms….  decide to legitimize a dead claim, accept blood money to buy our people the same way they buy votes and citizenship to win elections.

Suddenly Guatemala’s claim comes off life support and becomes relevant once again and as you are witnessing,  Guatemala is wasting no time and using it to their advantage to make their public relations argument to the world and likely the ICJ …now it gives Guatemala grounds to make a stand in what was a ridiculous claim. Belize has handed Guatemala legitimacy, simply by agreeing to this nonsense.

In our leaders’ blind trust and more likely love for the European and American money;  they push Belize down an amnesic path, forgetting the magnitude of woes Europeans and Americans have created in Belizean society…. Motherland England,  Ashcroft, Prosser, McAfee and maybe quite a few unknowns have instrumentally stripped our country of wealth, reputation and democracy with the willing enabling help of the very Bar members arguing for us to go to the ICJ and trying to convince us that they have Belize’s best interest at heart.  These agents of first world countries come to Belize and tell us how to think and what is good for us and our misguided leaders drunk in their power, believe they speak for us and saw no need for prior consultation before subjecting the entire country down this path.  Our leaders lack foresight by their failure to acknowledge we live in a corporate world, a new world order where governments are nothing more than agents for corporations and oil companies….

Here is a quote from the British Government on the claim:

“The UK is interested in this issue because we are a supporter of strong international institutions such as the ICJ, and regional organisations such as the OAS and SICA. We are keen to see a long term solution that will benefit both Guatemala and Belize, and to support the OAS’s efforts to promote wider regional stability and development. It is also important that Belize and Guatemala resolve their territorial dispute to continue developing regional and economic integration.” source: http://ukinguatemala.fco.gov.uk/en/about-us/working-with-guatemala/uk-bzgt/

  1. Let me repeat it, just in case you missed it : “We [Mother England]  are keen to see a long term solution that will benefit both Guatemala and Belize

So Now Guatemala is redrawing maps and making a mockery of us.  This is exactly what Guatemala wanted all along …a world audience to revitalize an old dying claim and maybe convince the political body of the ICJ  to make a “legal” ruling in their favor.   One thing I have learned, the dumbest people are the most educated at times. They lose their common sense; they become arrogant trained monkeys who believe a degree gives them superior intellect.  They are normally the easiest to prey on because one just needs to pander to  their super egos and play up to their elitist perception of intelligence.  I pray my Belizeans Vote NO and then put our leaders in check! They work for Belizeans, and they should serve Belize always.  Is it possible a deal has already been ironed out and they just need the ICJ to remove culpability from their actions?   Belize is NOT for gamble and if one inch of soil or sea is given to Guatemala, Belizeans MUST hold our leaders accountable.

Your opinion counts!


How did we get here? by: Aria Lightfoot


apathy

 

How did we get to this place in Belize?  This is a reflective question I keep asking myself as I watch and listen in horror as the death toll keep climbing in Belize. I know the helplessness and frustrations of those who want to make a difference; the paralysis of those who live in the carnage daily and the failing and inept judicial system that creates no justice for the average Belizean. Back in the day murder was unheard of, and the ones that did occur was normally limited to domestic violence that got bitterly out of hand.

When I grew up in Belize, Belizeans were known as docile people, a description I had issue with because it seemed to describe people who did as they were told. Today I long for the days when we are back to a peaceful fun loving people; back to a community spirited people.

As I reflect on the society I grew up in, I remember a peaceful, happy society where everyone got along and people were poor but were satisfied with what they had…

My idealistic happy society was challenged by a colleague recently, who argues that not everyone in Belize grew up with this nostalgic, fun loving Belize I have in my mind and it is because of this misconception of the society we lived in, we blindly help to create this monster we are facing today. So I decided to reflect on a society of what was and still is many Belizeans’ reality.

A child is born innocent into this world like a blank canvas we can use to create the future on. The environment we expose children is normally a predictor for the outcome of that child in most cases, not all.  So lets look at children in Belize.  Families should be strong protective barriers and places of comfort and refuge from the outside world.   Many would paint a successful family as two parents who are financially secured who offer their children opportunities and exposure to create success in their future and help define who they will become as adults. The family unit is important.  Let us take a serious look into Belize’s family structure.

Many of our children are products of outside marriages.  Many children are products of men who are already married with children and many children are products of relationships where the mother and father didn’t really have any relationship more than a sexual relationship.  The child is born into a contentious environment. The father has no relationship with the child or is forced into a financial relationship with that child and unfortunately many times, the relationship does not mature beyond that.   The mothers many times are subjected to poverty because in many cases, women jobs are lower paying jobs and they lack the financial support of the fathers of their children.  Women sometimes hang on to dysfunctional relationships out of financial necessity or develop another relationship with a second father to a second child, then maybe a third and the cycle continues. Belize also has a lot of failed or failing marriages.  Couples are legally married but dating outside their married relationship creating further contention within the homes where children are. Children see these dysfunctional relationships and accept it as normal and so a cycle of dysfunction is created and the idea of family is distorted into shallow sexual encounters and we end up creating unhealthy, sometimes traumatic atmospheres for our children.

Many times failed or failing marriages, broken relationships, dysfunctional relationships with mounting financial burdens create families that are stressed, violent and neglectful to children. The idea of the protective family that fosters the child growth is retarded by the reality of the situation.

Many of our kids in Belize also have no positive male role models in their lives. Many men in Belize spend the weekends drinking with their friends or chasing their sweethearts and do not use the weekend to bond with their children and build strong family foundations.  Many men have limited or no relationship with the children scattered around Belize with different women.  If they have several mothers for their children, another area of contention is created as the women live in constant odds with each other.

Many of our young girls are caught up in sexual relationships too young with older men.  Men target these young girls in full view, with silent approval and with the full knowledge of communities.  Young girls engaging in early sexual activity leads to pregnancy, poor choices in men, poor education and the perpetuation of the brutal cycle of poverty.

Poverty forces women and men to work longer hours to provide basic necessities. The children many times are left unsupervised or in the care of children not much older for hours on end.  This cycle of poverty and abuse shatters the image of a nostalgic Belize and paints a picture of a neglected population that brought us to this mess we are witnessing today.

Mental health problems created by years of emotional abuse are reduced to “crazy” in our society and we refrain from seeking the help and expertise of mental health professionals. We do not use counselors effectively to treat many of the underling problems our youths face.  We really don’t have a handle and understand how these environments can create serious mental problems we see prevalent in our society…

 

As a society we are contributing to our demise.  We somehow think spending an hour in church; one day a week,  reciting pre-formulated prayers and dropping money in the collection plate makes us Christians with a guaranteed space in heaven.  We drive or walk to church oblivious to the poverty and neglected population. We stay on our knees crying out to Jesus and God questioning the wrath we see on our society.  But did God cause this wrath or did we?

The Catholic Church is of the richest and most prominent churches in Belize. If you also include the Anglican, Methodist, Nazarene, Mormons, Evangelicals, all these entities have church buildings or schools in all these poverty stricken areas but don’t seem to move their congregations to act outside of the school or church and reach out into the poor surrounding neighborhoods. Our prominent politicians and Bourgeoisie all attend these churches in Belize; yet it seems they all suffer the same level of apathy in response to poverty.  Belize churches can be best described as “preaching to the saved” when they really should be seeking new souls to save.  Mein we gat church da Belize but no moral compass it seems.  Our churches are sitting idly, telling people to anticipate the Rapture, scaring congregations with tales of a fiery pit; judging other people souls to hell but yet do nothing to address poverty, the major issue affecting our community and one of the most consistent and prominent message from Jesus.

Matthew 25:34-36 Then the king will say to those at his right hand, “Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.”  Where is the Christian in action? The Christian who realizes God has empowered you with eyes to see the despair, noses to smell it, a heart to empathize, hands to reach out, money to feed and a conscience to know better.  The Christian who knows that small acts of kindness is more important that prayers and condemnation.  Where is the Christian of action I ask again?

How does a country rich in resources, mineral and land have so much poverty? The answer may lie in the blatant and wanton corruption occurring; the outright stealing of public funds and resources by those entrusted to protect it. The consistent misappropriation of the taxpayer dollar diverted into the pockets of custom officers, immigration officers, traffic officers, magistrates, police officers and just about every revenue-collecting source in Belize.  The Ministers who are misusing and abusing their authority through nepotism and cronyism. Public officers spending most of their workday, NOT working.  The failure to hold people accountable for the positions they have and the crimes they commit; the open affiliations with gangsters and drug dealers by our highest officials. When will these behaviors become so reprehensible that we will no longer tolerate it?

Sad to say, we do not have nation builders as our elected officials. In the past 30 years, we have elected the same jackasses who continuously play musical chairs in the House of Representatives.  In the past 30 years, both parties have promised to clean up the dirt and corruption plaguing our society and have failed miserably doing so. What do we expect when they they refuse to clean up the dirt in their own parties and keep putting their names up for elections.  The politicians know we live in a society of no accountability so they fear no repercussion for the outright lies they tell Belizeans. They lack integrity and the only God they worship is money.  Our politicians fight each other and divide us to become elected to benefit their personal businesses, family members, friends, and personal wealth. I imagine it would be difficult to build a nation, create opportunities, and create an outlet from poverty when the main concern is self-interest and self -preservation.

I want Belizeans to remember this: No political party in Belize is all evil or all good. As Belizeans we need to stop buying that divide nonsense they keep selling us.  There are good and bad people in all political parties. We need to let go of party affiliation and start building the nation of Belize.  We can no longer pretend to be a Christian Society if we do not act Christ like; we can no longer pretend we care but ignore poverty and suffering daily; we can no longer pretend we want change when we openly affiliate and celebrate with high level criminals destabilizing our country; we can no longer pretend we don’t have serious problems. The future of Belize will need every Belizean to become community minded, nation builders with a purpose higher than self-interest. We need to have a strong identity of people who are willing to protect our most vulnerable citizens…our children.

 

 

 

I pretend not to see what is in front of me

I make up excuses and reasons why it doesn’t involve me

I hear of an acquaintance, a friend, a name, but it is not me

I hear a knock next door and I see my neighbor carried away, it is not me

I want to do something but doing nothing is okay with me

I cry and pray everyday it is not me

Now it comes knocking for me

I look around at reflections of me telling themselves- at least it is not me

 

Ms. June Heusner- Making a difference by: Aria Lightfoot


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Belize is faced with the most turmoil I can remember since Independence.  Some people have predicted a dire future for our youths and country. Sometimes it may appear in the backdrop of a diminished economic climate, wavering values, corruption and a failing justice system the future seems uncertain.  However, as long as there is life there is hope. There are people who are fighting for Belize.  There are grass root activists in our communities whose work goes unnoticed, unappreciated or under-appreciated.

This month on Twocanview, I want to highlight an unsung Belizean hero, a fighter, an advocate, a mother, grandmother, godmother and second mother to many people who have the opportunity to know her.  I would like to introduce you to Ms. June Heusner.  A woman I admire immensely and have adopted as my second mother.  A woman ions ahead of her time, a trailblazer in her own right.

Ms. June, as she is affectionately known, has that special something.  She is a Belizean patriot, She has a passionate love for Belize, she is genuine, she is a fighter and she believes in her causes.  She is a community leader, she is respected by just about everyone in my generation and almost every resident of Belmopan has encountered Ms. June Heusner through her many hats she has worn throughout the years.

If you are not from Belmopan, you probably have never heard of Ms. June Heusner.  A very jovial, caring, passionate soul; a single mother who successfully raised four daughters on her own and a political secret weapon for the United Democratic Party in Belmopan.

Ms. June was not always the community activist.   She was a secretary in the Public Service and a young single mother with 3 daughters. She recalls being a card holding member of the PUP in her teenage years but defected during Heads of Agreement of 1981.  Her decision to take a moral and patriotic stand during time and protest the controversial agreement cost Ms. June her job, some associates and friends in Belmopan, a predominantly conservative public service community.   It was brave of her to step outside her comfort zone, risk her job security, friends,  and future to fight for what she deeply believed in.  That moment in Belize’s history sparked something in Ms. June that lives today.  Today Belizeans may be faced with a similar quandary with the ICJ vote.

As a community activist, Ms. June’s fulfillment is increasing the quality of life of those around her.  She has contributed immeasurably to the youth population in Belmopan.  She spearheaded Brownies, the Girl Guides, Rangers, and she formulated the most fun and positive youth group of my generation. She has been on the Board of RECONDEV in Belmopan; Manager of Convention Hotel and today she is manager, owner and operator of “Sunshine” daycare where she has provided and still providing care for hundreds of Belmopan children.

Ms. June’s daughter, Tiffany, recounted fond memories when they were in Brownies, Girl Guides and Rangers. Ms. June would raise funds to take them camping in different places in Belize. They would visit Mountain Pine Ridge, the Caves, Orange Walk, and Corozal. She recalls getting to places in cane trucks and pick up backs…Ms. June had them performing community services and organizing rallies. Ms. June’s energy was endless and positive.

I recall in my teenage days in Belmopan, Ms. June would have us painting the hospital, tree stumps, planting, beautifying Belmopan; visiting Salvapan (now Maya Mopan), when it was nothing but a trail into bushes, so we could to help families who were destitute.  My first summer job was working with Ms. June.  Every year as a teenager, Ms. June would take our youth group to St. George’s Caye for an unforgettable Easter week.  Ms. June would raise funds; reach out to just about every person she knew to make the trip happen. One year we went to Belize City in a big dump truck, and then one of her fishermen brothers took us out to the Cayes. Out at the Cayes, we had no running water, no toilets, no electricity, no stove or refrigerator- and it was the best week of our lives. Writing this piece I realize Ms. June kept quite a few youths involved in so many projects that we did not have time to become bored and menaces.

In 1992 Ms. June introduced me to the political arena, a place I find much fascination. She had me on the campaign trails, attending conventions, speeches, and going door-to-door campaigning.  Her energy and drive is contagious.  The small unprofessional team worked hard and planned their campaign strategy while I listened with amazement. It felt like a race, the rush of being involved. This campaign trail experience was priceless. Our candidate won by one vote.

Ms. June is a straight shooter and has gained the trust of many who reach out to her  for her advice.  I believe she was pivotal in John Saldivar winning the General Election of 2012.  Many Belmopan residents I spoke to see John as arrogant and aloof, but Ms. June counters that with a proven trust she has earned in different sectors in the Belmopan Community over her many years of community activism.  I recall on election night I was sitting in Belmopan at Ms. June’s house as she celebrated the win of the UDP.  That night, John became unreachable by phone, John did not take the time that night to thank her or her campaign team, immersed deeply in his victory I guess.

Speaking to Ms. June, she utters some disappointments in the way she is treated at times but she remains a faithful soldier to the cause.  I would tease Ms. June and tell her that she should be living in a big house, with lots of money- but I know Ms. June does not do what she does for personal gain.  She has children and grandchildren, nieces and nephews. A future of opportunities is what she wants for her children. Ms. June also believes that women are important in our society.  Women raise children and are the hallmark of many families; a woman’s self-esteem is key to providing a strong family unit and building our future in Belize.

Ms. June taught me very important lessons.  The love of Belize is key to build it; youths are important and they can make a difference, the love of people regardless of their standing in society, and spirit of perseverance.  Ms. June never expects anything in return and for the most part, she gets nothing tangible. However, Ms. June beams with pride when any of her hundreds of kids achieves, or make a difference in society; she bawls when any of her kids passes away, like Keino recently.

I have tremendous admiration for Ms. June Heusner.  In our society we don’t realize the people who are always doing for the simple fact that they are always doing.  We don’t realize their impact because they continue to silently toil; we don’t appreciate their efforts because we don’t care; we don’t say thank you because we think they are obligated. Well thank you Ms. June Heusner for all you have contributed to Belmopan, you are appreciated and loved by many who know you.   Irrespective of your political, religious or social leanings, you can make an impact in your community and Ms. June proves it daily. “A small act of kindness is more powerful than a thousand bowed head in prayers.

Children of Hope Foundation making a difference in Belmopan


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I am excited to introduce you to an organization making a difference in the lives of our youths in Belize,  It is called the Children of Hope Foundation in Belmopan.

According to Mrs. Sandra Hall, who is a board member of the Children of Hope Foundation and The Belmopan Int’l Women’s Group, The Children of Hope Foundation (COHF) in Belmopan was founded by a Belizean who returned from the US to retire in Belmopan.  The organization sends 195 children to school (primary through high school) through a sponsorship programme funded mainly by donors in the US. The COHF has since constructed “Heart House” where the children go to after school and are tutored by a few members of the Board. The children come mainly from the San Martin, Salvapan, Mopan area of Bmp and from villages like St. Matthews. It is a very successful programme. The Belmopan Int’l. Women’s Group supports the COHF with monthly financial donations (through fund-raisers) to assist with transportation costs and lunches for those children who commute from the villages. The website can be located at childrenofhopebelize.org. http://childrenofhopebelize.org

There are many ways to help this organization remain successful. You can become a sponsor or participate in different ways as needed. Sponsorship information is below:

information below adapted from website: 

 BECOME A PART OF A CHILD’S LIFE IN BELIZE. SPONSOR A CHILD FOR SCHOOL.

All children must pay to go to school, so please help us help many children get an education. Please contact us for information on children who need sponsors for the 2012-2013 school year. Fees have to be paid by June, 2012.

This is a schedule of the yearly cost for each grade. Sponsorship provides school fees, a backpack, and school supplies/books.
$125 U.S. – Infant I & II and Standard I & II (First 4 years of school)
$145 U.S. – Standard III & Standard IV (5th & 6th Grades)
$155 U.S. – Standard V (7th Grade)
$175 U.S. – Standard VI (8th Grade)
$400 U.S. – High School (per year for 4 years)

Sponsors in the U.S. mail checks to:
Uraina Kalisek
P.O. Box 1401
Richmond, TX 77406-1401
In Belize, mail check to:
Uraina Kalisek
P.O. Box 166
Belmopan, Belize