The Truce written by: Aria Lightfoot


Prime Minister Dean Barrow

Has a truce been reached? it appears so.  On May 12, 2012 The Prime Minister delivered a key note address in commemoration of Belize Bank’s 25th Anniversary of Banking in Belize.  It was reported that Lord Ashcroft was in attendance.  While the Prime Minister’s speech does not mention Ashcroft by name, there are certain clues in the speech which indicates that the Prime Minister has become weary of the endless litigation.

Belize is burdened with a global recession affecting our economy;  a debt burden crushing our standard of living;  escalating violence fueled by the drug and weapons trade;  the widening gap between rich and poor;  countless citizens suffering from  mental  health and medical problems; poor law enforcement and prosecution and many other issues. Belize does not have time or resources for endless litigation.  We need leadership whose agenda is focused on problem solving.

The truce seemed to cause quite a stir amongst members of the opposition.  In Godfrey Smith‘s article Ashcroft-Barrow Détente in Flashpoint, he eloquently speculates or maybe gives an insider’s perspective on the renewed relationship between Ashcroft and the Prime Minister.  After all Godfrey Smith was one of Ashcroft litigators and would probably have knowledge regarding the litigation intentions of the Lord.   Once you get beyond the eloquence, politics and flair of Smith’s essay, he makes a solid point excerpted from one of his previous writings.  ” In protracted battles in which opponents are roughly evenly matched, a truce is sometimes declared to save money, time and resources, the initial fit of egotistical pique that precipitated the battle having succumbed to the reality of the pointlessness of it. “  I dont think it was pointless however. I believe it was necessary to curb the insatiable greed of investors’ feeding frenzy upon our rich resources in Belize.

My personal speculation is that the truce is the result of waning hope regarding the legal challenges to the general elections results. The opposition’s hopes of  gaining power through the court system is unlikely and many Belizeans of all political faiths have accepted that the United Democratic Party is the Government of Belize for the next five years,  including Lord Ashcroft.  Stagnating the government and economy with numerous litigation is counter-productive to Ashcroft’s businesses also, so the time for fighting has seemingly ended.

And now that the olive branch or tree (as some joked) has been extended, I assume the litigating attorneys are no longer needed, maybe the reason for the outcry? Who knows!    I can only hope the country and people of Belize wins in this scenario. My hope is for better laws and oversight when it comes to investment and investors in our jewel.  According to the Prime Minister “[a] banking and financial system occupies a crucial place in any economy, and so special rules are put in place for its management and regulation. And any government will hope for smooth and cooperative relations among the entities serving the business community and general public in the financial sector.”

I applaud the Prime Minster for offering an olive branch.   The Prime Minister made a pledge to the business community to work towards fostering an atmosphere conducive for investments.  As the Prime Minister said in his speech ” It is no secret…confrontation rather than cooperation has been, in at least one case, too much the Belizean norm…. This is discomfiting all round and a large dose of shared goodwill is now required to address the problem.”

Lord Ashcroft has implanted his fangs deeply into the veins of our society and is one of the most prominent businessmen in Belize. Belize Bank “[is] perhaps the major source of financing for the productive sector in this nation, and that it currently represents some 40% of the banking system.”  (PM speech 5/12/2012)  I believe that both the Prime Minister and Ashcroft have come to the realization that a working relationship is better than no relationship or worse, an embattled relationship.  My eyes are now wide open on Ashcroft reemergence in our society. I implore Belizeans to sleep with one eye shut.

Below is the Prime Minister Speech delivered to Belize Bank and also a link to Godfrey Smith’s article in Flashpoint.

The Prime Minister of Belize Speech delivered on May 12, 2012 at the Radisson Fort George on the 25th Anniversary of Belize Bank.

I am happy to have been asked to make some brief remarks on this occasion celebrating the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the Belize Bank. That first step ramified, of course, and led later to the establishment of the Belize Bank Group of Companies, so very much a part of the banking and commercial life of our country.

 Now twenty five years of unbroken successful operation is an event worthy of note in the life of any business enterprise. But one must also add to this the fact that the Belize Bank has been perhaps the major source of financing for the productive sector in this nation, and that it currently represents some 40% of the banking system. Clearly, then, we are talking about an institution of which, generally, management and staff can be proud.

And there is even more. Because, in truth, the institution is more than 25 years old. Indeed, this 25th anniversary merely represents the length of time during which it has been operating under the Belize Bank name. So that in fact the institution is closer to 110 years old, having been established in 1902 as the Bank of British Honduras. Then in 1912 it became a part of the Royal Bank of Canada, operating as the local branch of this multinational until 1987 when it was bought by the current owners and rebadged as the Belize Bank. It must be with a sense of great satisfaction, then, that the management, staff and clients of this bank look back at its long past, and look forward to its even longer future. 

 But pride of place in the financial system of Belize as the country’s largest and oldest bank, also carries a heavy responsibility. Management and staff must work extra hard to maintain that coveted number one position. And that work must be undertaken and that position maintained in a manner that sets an example in the best traditions of banking. This means providing top quality advice to clients; it means speed and efficiency in financial transactions; and it means preserving reliability, confidentiality and, above all, stability. Potential borrowers and investors must be confident that at all times the bank will offer effective, hand-holding guidance. And depositors must equally know that their funds are always being studiously safeguarded.

A banking and financial system occupies a crucial place in any economy, and so special rules are put in place for its management and regulation. And any government will hope for smooth and cooperative relations among the entities serving the business community and general public in the financial sector. Even more important, the state will want to see an ordered and mutually supportive relationship between the financial system players and the financial system regulators. It is no secret, though, that in this regard confrontation rather than cooperation has been, in at least one case, too much the Belizean norm in recent times. This is discomfiting all round and a large dose of shared goodwill is now required to address the problem.

The fact is that the regulator has a job to do, and is given financial oversight authority by the laws of the land. On the other hand, that authority should never be exercised in a bull-in-a-china-shop fashion. Sensitivity, as well as firmness, is required. Now nobody is naive enough to expect that the regulatory relationship will never turn adversarial. But the occasions when this happens must be the exception rather than the rule. And a financial system cannot function properly in a climate of unceasing litigation. A way must, therefore, be found out of this thicket, this briar patch.

 Global banking standards of prudence and stability must be upheld, but without imposing requirements on institutions that are impossible for them to meet. Of course, where individual institutions have, through past practices, put themselves in especially difficult positions, they must be prepared to take extraordinary measures to extricate themselves. Again, I reiterate that it is always a question of balance. Matters are not helped by certain negative developments in banking worldwide, which have understandably resulted in a regulatory mindset to err, if anything, on the side of caution. In that context it is hard to get away from the general requirement for increasing capitalization in order to reduce risk. The recent financial crisis has seen governments, including those of the United States and the United Kingdom, injecting previously unheard of amounts of capital into private banks. It is a situation that we cannot afford here in Belize. And it is worth remembering that the debacle abroad was in large measure caused by regulators operating in a light touch, almost laissez faire manner, resulting in grossly inadequate supervision.

But the effort to avoid a replication of that scenario in our country is complicated by a reliance on provisioning arrangements that are no longer effective for non-performing loans. So those arrangements needed to be changed. But not in a way as to suck all the air out of the system, depriving both the banking and business sector of oxygen. It must be clear by now that I am asking for some sort of middle ground between commercial banks and the regulator. And striking the right balance is not nearly as Jesuitical an exercise as might first appear. If the ultimate authority of the Central Bank is respected, and the Central Bank in turn is realistic and flexible, a via media can indeed be found.  Government, as the ultimate custodian of the public welfare, is-needless to say-ready to help. So I declare tonight to the Belize Bank that we fully expect it to partner with us, to use its leadership role, its ingenuity and its resources, to help find a way out of the impasse. And that is the note on which I close, congratulating the bank once again as we look to a new beginning that will signal its continuing success; and the expansion of its large and, we hope, always positive footprint.

Flashpoint article : Ashcroft-Barrow Détente written by Godfrey Smith on May 14, 2012 http://www.flashpointbelize.com/flashpointarticles/tabid/103/EntryId/141/Ashcroft-Barrow-Detente.aspx

Update Numbah 2 John McAfee Dishes Up More Crap 05-11-12


John McAfee

So remember in the interview with Jeff Wise, John McAfee said that he was trying to apply his knowledge of computer viruses to figuring out viruses that plague us human beings? Remember how he proudly showed Mr. Wise his “lab” and his leading research scientist  on quorum sensing? Well according to the San Pedro Sun, he was manufacturing “antiseptics” not “antibiotics“. WOW. I am like stunned because this man really believes that we are that dumb as to not know the difference as well as it was in his own words that he said he was trying to develop antibiotics using quorum sensing or did I read it wrong and misinterpreted what he meant? So he was really trying to make antiseptics using bacteria??? uhmmmm…ok but I think I will stick to Clorox bleach….

For the full interview in the San Pedro Sun: http://www.sanpedrosun.com/crime-and-violence/2012/05/10/john-mcafee-demands-an-apology-for-gsu-raid/

For the previous articles on John McAfee: https://twocanview.com/2012/05/04/just-how-nutz-is-this-nut-who-is-john-mcafee-by-fayemarie-anderson-carter/

And the previous update on that article: https://twocanview.com/2012/05/08/update-just-how-nutz-is-this-nut-who-is-john-mcafee-by-fayemarie-anderson-carter-2/

UPDATE: Just How Nutz Is This Nut???? Who is John McAfee? by Fayemarie Anderson Carter


John McAfee

Full Article on McAfee: https://twocanview.com/2012/05/04/just-how-nutz-is-this-nut-who-is-john-mcafee-by-fayemarie-anderson-carter/

There are people rising up to defend John McAfee by attacking the source of the works I quoted, saying it is mere speculation and there is no proof. One comment called me “judgmental” reminding me that those living in glass houses shouldn’t cast stones.

WTF??? Really? LMAO! O Good Lordamerci! Why get so personal over a man neither of us knows???

I want to ask: how is it that I am being “judgmental” when I give information about John McAfee but those who threw this word around didn’t call what they were doing as “judgemental” when they presented their “information” about the GSU?  I love sharing information and receiving information but you can’t designate the very same action a different name just because it’s me and it’s you and it’s McAfee and it’s the GSU…info is info. That would be saying that while I shit, you spread joy and love even though we are both taking a dump on a toilet! And I quoted Channel 5 too…how come no comments or attacks on using them as a source HUH???? Biased much?

I didn’t focus on the GSU because really, that is a WHOLE OTHER article and I did talk about them in the context of THIS particular incident. MY PURPOSE WAS TO EXPOSE JOHN MCAFEE!!!

Don’t get it all twisted lovers! I could give a shit about the man for any possible personal reasons…don’t know him, will gain nothing by deliberately disparaging him, reiterating once more: I AINT GETTIN PAID FAH DIS and even if I were, is nuh mi style fi di lie fi nobadi, even mi own pickney! Ask dem! Mi mek dey get suspended and go dah court by demself when dey get ketch fi duh stupidness.

AND again with the accusations of being spin doctors! WTH???? What am I spinning???? I just did some background research on the man..because even if I nuh si di damn fish, AH SMELL IT!!!! And why is it when we question anydamnthing or anydamnbody mi hafi yer bout di paliticians dem just as corrupted and tief and dis and dat! Is mi tawkin bout dem ret now?????? LOOKYA! mi nah gat all day and needah do you fi di read all dat! Stick to di topic! Basic English Composition 101!!!!

Jeff Wise

With that said: Jeff Wise? the guy I used as my source? is not some random dude with no credibility…he is a respected author and contibutor to many reputable magazines and blogs, including The New York Times, Psychology Today, Men’s Healthto name a few. Check out his bio: http://jeffwise.net/about-the-author/

Jeff Wise faced his own critics when he wrote this article about McAfee and the magazine he wrote for got a lot of flack but he is sticking by his story and it would seem, with good reason. Here is his rebuttal to those attacking his article: http://www.fastcompany.com/1625080/john-mcafee-belize-quorum-sensing-female-viagra

I don’t know people….perhaps it is your disappointment in the man that is evoking this reaction against me and Aria…that’s cool…but seriously….please…always know that we do come from only the best place when we write. We really do want to elevate our collective attitudes/belief systems/ethics to reflect integrity and intolerance of corruption. I’m only one person. I can’t DO more than I can do. While I can hold people accountable morally and ethically, I can’t enforce laws and prosecute criminals, perform heart surgeries and rescue cats outtah trees(btw seriously, that only seems to happen with American cats right??)

*sigh* I digress….you get my point. Please understand our purpose. Understand yours. That is the first step to eliminating a lot of the confusion and backlash we tend to get …At the same time, if you got a legit point and feel like arguing it (respectfully and always with humour, man..life ain’t dat serious) BRING IT KITTIES!!!!

O yeah and BITE ME! LOL heeheheeeheheheeeee

Daily Dingleberry 04-27-12 Misery LOVES Company


Hey! YOU! Yes, YOU!

Lookya! O^O

Belize has been getting a lot of negative press and for good reason. What is ironic is that many Belizeans quick fuh hallah dat govament nuh di duh dey job! Tymes haaaaaad! People tieeeeeef! Police corrrrrrupt! And then when they get put in the limelight by international agencies, instead of rising up and hollering “yes! Da tru! Da tru!” uno run inna uno hole and play victim.

My point? Why do we obsess about bad press? Why do we create hysteria and give this horrible impression that everybody is starving and dying and basically living in squalor?

Check out the Facebook updates: smiling people at the bar, the beach, Cancun???? Fancy ride, pretty house, lush gardens? And how did you upload those pictures? On your iPhone….not cheap people so…methinks you do complain too damn much.

SO! I will re feature a lovely story from Channel 7 about someone who beat the odds and has quite the frank discussion about his childhood, the ramifications and how he overcame his “demons” as he calls them: Dr. Leroy Almendarez

http://vimeo.com/41125956

 

Daily Dingleberry 04-26-12 Amazing Grace?


They seh dont speak ill of the dead but rass dis di tek di cake! Look…I understand ok? Even gangbangers have people who think they are great. You can almost always find someone who will swear that he is sweet, charming, fun, caring….even it is only his momma. But we have to tell di truth and shame di devil man!

I respect all human beings even if they are the most evil monsters you can fathom. It doesn’t mean I have to like them or not face facts. Sometimes, the only good thing about a person is what he teaches you NOT TO BE. Let’s stop dis shit about making these gang bangers into martyrs. They are behind much misery in many people’s lives. They are cruel inconsiderate bastards who would sell their mothers to the highest bidders. So, why is it that WOMEN seem to be the ones defending these guys? These men aren’t loyal. They use you. They leave you with babies they won’t support or can’t be good role models for. Are you so shallow that you are blinded by a beer and some chicken? IS that the requirement to be considered a “good” man nowadays? RASS Then I am ten times that man huh? cause I could buy you a whole case a beer and all the chicken da di shop! Can I be KING now?

It is a sad state of affairs when we sell ourselves so cheap. And we are. Have you thought of the message we are sending our children???? Don’t drugs. Go to school. Go to church. BUT you si Mr. So and So? Check out ih new ride! Wow! UGH

Grow up people. Have some integrity. Uno eat uno pride wid da fry chicken?

Do you want this to be your family portrait?

Daily Dingleberry 04-20-12 420 Bitches! Legalize It!!!!!!


Legalize It

So…research shows that there are many benefits to using marijuana for medicinal purposes and that it can be quite the aid to people suffering the side effects of cancer treatment. There are already a few states in the US that allow for the cultivation and distribution of medicinal marijuana…WHAT ARE WE WAITING FOR? I say: corner the market man! Do you know how much resources are wasted trying to chase marijuana farmers, the mules and then the poor user who is caught with an ounce? To what end?

 

I am emphatically against legalization of narcotics so don’t bother rebutting with: it is a gateway drug blahsiblah. I am also against minors engaging in recreational use so don’t come to me with that either. Don’t come to me with the idea of contributing to moral decay either: Belize is pretty immoral already and plenty of damage is done with alcohol which is legal.

I am simply saying that we treat it like an industry with funding, regulations and TAXATION. When you control this already booming industry, you eliminate a certain level of corruption, violence and even dependence. There will be a certain level of accountability which is not achievable as the current situation stands.

I sincerely believe that the idea bears consideration. Most North and Central American countries are examining it…there just might be something to it.

 

Daily Dingleberry 04-18-12 In Light of the Dark


Suicide is not a typical behavioural choice. Human beings have a strong sense self preservation. This is why people find it hard to accept when someone chooses this way of dealing with challenges. A common reaction is to blame the victim. Some act disgusted, calling them weak… crazy…stupid…selfish…misguided…sinner. Others laugh and make fun, snickering and belittling with jokes and sarcasm, and still others, just dismiss it, preferring the deluded false security of denial.

I want to understand all these reactions. And I do, usually. But there comes a time when such ignorance and insensitivity becomes unforgivable. The time is when you have been told differently and appealed to with knowledge and scientific research and still, you persist in perpetuating this type of destructive attitude.

Can we just agree that all behaviour is on a continuum? “Normal” is quite encompassing. Very few behaviours are actually abnormal. No one chooses to be mentally ill. Unfortunately, our bodies and minds are susceptible to breaking down, and like any physical ailment, we must treat our mental ailments. Left unattended, they become unmanageable and debilitating.

Would you leave a sore to fester? Would you let a broken limb heal badly, crippling you for life? Would you not take your insulin? your blood pressure pills?

It’s really simple. We are ruled by chemicals. When there is too much or too little, our brains don’t function well. Our perceptions become warped causing us to make harmful decisions. So, we take medication to correct the imbalance and we seek therapy to re-learn to think and regulate our emotions so that we can make more productive decisions and engage in more effective behaviour. This works for most everyone except for those suffering with the more serious and persistent mentally ill, eg, personality disorders and psychosis.

Like everything else. Get educated. Have some patience and show some humanity. You will need someone to show you just that one day.

Engage. Educate. Encourage. Empower.

Invisible in plain sight by: Aria Lightfoot


“A nation’s greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members.” Mahatma Ghandi

Homelessness is defined in the US laws as a person who lacks a fixed, regular and adequate night time residence; or a temporary night time residence that is a privately or publicly supervised shelter; or any night time residence used as a temporary living accommodation; or a person using an institution providing temporary  residence awaiting institutionalization;  or a person who sleeps in facilities public or private not intended for those purposes.  The places the homeless normally sleeps are the street, cars, buses, trains, public building, parks, bridges, abandoned buildings or substandard buildings battling natural elements, predators and disease.   Homelessness impact the lives of adults and children equally; causes dyfunctional environments for children, increase crime rates,  increase illness and it is a human rights crisis.

There are many reasons cited for homelessness according to the National Coalition for the homeless. It includes, foreclosure, poverty, no work opportunities, no public assistance, lack of housing, declining health, domestic violence, substance abuse and mental illness.

Belize City has a major homeless problem. It is a problem that occurs in plain sight  and for many years, a problem that recurs without any permanent solutions.  Some charities exists that provide temporary relief to the homeless, provide meals, limited spaces to sleep and clothing. However with a growing world recession, increases in oil prices, declining opportunities, Belize city, where the problems seem most prevalent, has turned into a city of blight and degradation.

As a Christian nation we are failing to follow the teachings of the Bible that mentions poverty many more times than it mentions homosexuality. It seems that Jesus, Leviticus, Luke, Mathew, Isaiah, Proverbs were crystal clear and adamant on the duty of the Christian to help the poor. Remember that story Jesus told about ignoring him when you ignore a fellow man in need? All the Biblical teachings tell us to act with kindness towards the poor and actively solve their plight.  Additionally, Belize is a signatory to the Declaration of Human Rights for the UN, we are bounded as a society to treat our fellow man with dignity and worth.  Finally, just being a fellow member of the human race we ought to extend a hand, and help solve issues for our fellow human beings, especially in their lowest , most vulnerable and seemingly helpless moments of their lives.

With that said, I must admit that I too am guilty of not adhering to the Bible, human rights convention or fellow humanity arm of extension lecture above.  I recognize my past inability to empathize with the homeless even though the problem is palpable. I have donated money to the homeless effort,  given clothes or otherwise performed the very basic duties, however, I have been rather oblivious to the everyday conditions of the homeless; I have tacitly accepted their condition as a part of societal problem, not my problem approach and maybe cast a judgmental excuse, thinking homelessness is a self made condition.

My first experience with the homeless was through my teacher Mrs. Galvez (Fonseca) at St. John’s College Sixth Form.  We had a group project to interview members of the homeless and present our findings to the class.  It was not the violent Belize City of today and we felt comfortable interviewing homeless people at night to delve into their condition. Many had families,  but also seemed to suffer from mental illness or other conditions such as drug abuse.  One member of our group interviewed a family member who expressed helplessness because of their inability to cure the situation of their loved one. We completed an effective presentation and after the project was over, went back to our normal lives.  I continued along my day avoiding contact or exposure to the homeless. It was not my problem and I did not want to see it.

Just around Christmas time each year  though ,with highlights of  Mary and Joseph seeking an Inn to sleep at night, as she suffers in labour with  Baby Jesus and after being turned away in her most fragile condition,  she is eventually  made to deliver and sleep in a barn with animals. The story must subconsciously affect our sense of duty to provide temporary food and clothes and shelter for the homeless. The goodwill becomes alive with drives and collections that ultimately solves nothing. Once the season is over, we go back to our normal lives, having done our regimented and less involved duty as a Christian or humanitarian with a sense of accomplishment and a boost  in our sense of empowerment knowing that our condition is not as bad after all.

Recently the mayor of Belize City made a revolutionary suggestion and even welcomed ideas to address the homeless situation in Belize City. The idea is revolutionary because I don’t think anyone was thinking about the homeless. Certainly not me. I forgot they even existed, even though they exist in plain sight.  This seems to be the first real attempt by any public official to take on the issues of homelessness. No quicker than the idea was expressed, out of the woodworks jump the “why we should not do it, why it can’t work and why I won’t support it” people,  even though they offer absolutely no alternative solutions of their own.  The argument is that people’s civil rights will be violated and it will become a crime to be homeless. Well technically, homelessness is a crime in Belize and  is not addressed as a plight of the poor in our laws but rather a nuisance.  It it is defined in our laws, exactly how we treat homelessness, as a nuisance we prefer not to see.

I don’t know if many Belizeans are aware that Belize City continues to be rated poorly by tourists. I have had friends who have visited on cruises and were shocked at our level of poverty in Belize City.  Hearing it offends my every being, but many times that is how we are when confronted with the truth. When we become actively blind to poverty and homelessness and have subjectively focused on the good,  an innate guilt exists when someone else points out what we fail to see.  We have allowed our fellow citizens to deteriorate to a level where their lives are treated with less regard than an animal.

My hope is that the dilemma of homelessness will be carried out with as much humanitarian effort as possible. My hope is that we will be able to rehabilitate the homeless into functioning and productive members of society. My hope is that we can can put politics aside and support real solutions. We continue to profess our love for Belize, well loving Belize includes the people who make up the  country of Belize.  We need to uplift our city and become vigilant , active,  solution-seeking,  members ensuring poverty does not become a demeaning human rights crisis.  We are a small nation of very intelligent, caring, capable and resourceful people. We are our own heroes.

Daily Dingleberry 04-14-12 Would the real Belizean please stand up?


Something very perturbing is starting to happen. I suspect it was always an undercurrent but now it is coming to the surface. Belizeans who live in Belize are accusing Belizeans who live outside of not being real Belizeans.

Let’s get this straight. According the laws of Belize and everywhere else, uhm, we are Belizeans, no matter what you say or think. Watch us get deported. We come home to Belize. We cause gang wars and violence.

The next annoying thing is: There are over 160,000 of us spread allllll over the world and more than likely we are contributing to the greatest industry we got in Belize: Western Union. AND DONT START WITH IT’S ONLY BETWEEN US AND WHO WE SEND MONEY TO. That is naive. We send money cause the economy sux. There are no jobs and our families need to eat. Imagine if we didn’t send packages and money. Belize would be run over with the homeless and starving children and quite a few dead people too cause we send money to pay medical bills.

WE ARE RELEVANT. WE INFLUENCE YOUR QUALITY OF LIFE. SO SHOW US SOME RESPECT.

We’re out here developing expertise in many areas and many of us would love to return home but to what? And then what will you do without our money funneling in???? Think!

We contribute in soooo many ways….the construction industry bc we send money to  build our homes; the tourist industry cause we come home and eat in your restaurants and rent your cars and stay in your hotels, never mind the friends we send and bring to visit; the business sector bc we send goods to sell or we send money so our family can buy goods; education because we send school fees and supplies; medical services because we send money to pay for hospital stays and medicines….I think you get the picture.

Athletes, artists, doctors, soldiers, you name it, are trained around the world, representing Belize with NO recognition. Sometimes you wanna just say &^%$ y’all! But we don’t. We keep trying, despite your vitriol and attempts to alienate and discriminate.

 

An interview with the Prime Minister of Belize by: Aria Lightfoot and Fayemarie Anderson-Carter


Leadership is the ability to guide, energize or direct an organization, movement or country towards the accomplishment of a common goal. Leaders shape the destiny of that organization, movement or country and many times the organization, movement or country is defined by such leadership. Leaders are the force that determines the success of their organizations, movements and countries. The study of leaders and leadership qualities is vast and expands centuries. It covers numerous factors such as religion, politics, socio-economics, etc. It would be difficult to cover all the different types of leadership styles and theories in this piece.

Researchers have agreed that there are certain traits and characteristics that are normally associated with being a successful leader. The physical attributes are height, age, appearance, sex appeal, as well as, character traits such as honesty, integrity, vision, competence, integrity, enthusiasm and persistence. Leaders must be intelligent, progressive, decisive, and inspire confidence, trust and loyalty. Political scientist, James McGregor Burns, has examined presidents and world leaders and he came up with two distinctive type of leaders. He classified leaders as either transactional leaders or transformational leaders. A transactional leader motivates followers by recognizing their needs and providing rewards to fulfill these needs in exchange for performance and support. A transformational leader raises his/her followers’ aspirations to focus on “transcendental, higher level goals akin to self-actualization needs” .

Martin Luther King Jr. is an example of a transformational leader. He inspired followers to look forward to a new vision; to reject the status quo and to work for greater social justice. Barrack Obama inspired and raised the spirits of all Americans, especially African Americans, to once again believe that, regardless of station he/she is born into, regardless of race, anyone can rise to the highest position or status as long as he/she works hard. His rallying cry “Yes, we can” was shouted all over the world as supporters watched the United States elect its first African American president. George Price, implored Belizeans to break the grip of the colonial government and fight for and eventually win independence in 1981 so that today he is called “The Father of the Nation”.

The Prime Minister of Belize, Honorable Dean Barrow, despite criticism and naysayers is proving himself to be a powerful transformational leader. On March, 24, 2012, Twocanview had the privilege of interviewing the Prime Minister to get his perspective and to examine his leadership style. Twocanview has observed that much of the criticism aimed at our leaders is done without ever talking to the leaders. Getting a personal perspective before judgment is passed is definitely an important exercise.

The Prime Minister’s manner was very cordial, warm and inviting. This allowed us to just dive right in and begin our interview. Our first question to the Prime Minister was “why politics?” His answer was that he was born into politics. His grandparents, parents, uncle were actively involved in politics so that he grew up listening to animated and in depth discussions about current affairs right there in his living room. He watched as the different parties developed, declined and eventually, three of them would merge into the United Democratic Party (UDP). His involvement was a natural progression. He started as a legal advisor for the UDP was asked to run in city council elections,(which he won) then shortly thereafter in 1984, the general elections. His success in Belize politics is undeniable. He is the first Black Prime Minister of the Central American region and also the first leader of the UDP to win two terms consecutively.

The PM leads both his party, the UDP and the Government of Belize. Each has its own separate and particular challenges. He claims that at this juncture, the members of the UDP have coalesced to a strong cohesive unit, with no personality conflicts or serious grumbling. His biggest challenge is to maintain equilibrium, balancing expectations with conflicts.

As the Prime Minster of Belize, conversely, the challenges are innumerous. Belize is a small open economy. International trends can and do affect Belize: Europe’s struggle to balance its weakest members with the strongest in the union; shaky confidence in the United States’ leadership as the country faces an election year; the downturn of international tourism as a result of the worldwide recession. Surprisingly, Belize has not been as negatively impacted as other countries and our country actually did enjoy quite a healthy tourism trade last year, 2011. However, debt such as the “superbond” continues to obscure this progress. This creates increasing pressure to renegotiate terms so as to alleviate the strain on the economy and release funds for the continued development of our social programs.

Other pressing issues continue to include the Guatemalan claim, a complex conundrum spanning centuries which poses a constant threat to our borders and our resources as Guatemalan citizens ignore the laws of our land regarding immigration, agriculture and forestry. There is also the encroaching influence of the Mexican mafia infiltrating our justice system as they seek to cultivate means of transporting their illegal drugs and arms. Related gang violence is a real concern for many in urban areas and now even in the more rural villages.

Domestically, the PM faces the difficult task of providing immediate relief to our most impoverished while trying to develop sustainable, long term solutions for employment, education and proper medical care. All the while he is diligently pursuing these goals, he is bombarded by rambunctious advocacy groups with different agendas. Critics weigh in on his decisions and policies relentlessly and seemingly without any real purpose but to detract and create disharmony and fear. The Prime Minister must take account for it all, navigate a philosophical and realistic course with purpose and effectuate policy that is beneficial for all Belizeans.

When we asked the PM in what direction would like to take Belize, he said that social justice is the hallmark of his government. He wants to uplift the marginalized people of Belize. He describes his ideology as being similar to that of the democratic party of the United States. He was emphatic in juxtaposing the Republican philosophy against the Democrats’ in order to state that he does not believe that government should stand back and just let the corporations dictate the people’s fate. He believes that “government must function to alleviate the hardships in people’s lives”. His government believes in the ‘pro-poor programs” such as the Food Pantry Program in Belize, Cayo, Toledo Districts where the working poor can buy food at a reduced cost. He assists heads of households, mostly single mothers, with a monthly subsidy called Boost in exchange for compliance with truancy laws etc. He is determined to continue to develop more social programs in this second term of government.

A priority for the Prime Minister is increasing the growth of the private sector. As the world economy gradually improves, Mr. Barrow plans to seek ways of helping the private sector to pick up the pace through increase production. This translates into more taxes which benefits the people of Belize through funding of more social programs. He admits that one of the biggest impediments has been the increasing fuel cost. Although the government may benefit from exporting crude, Belize must turn around and import the refined oil at high cost. The Prime Minister tells us there are plans for a refinery. Belize National Energy (BNE) is the only company that has found oil and presently exporting crude oil so BNE will be initiating plans to build the refinery. It is the Prime Minister’s intention that Belizeans will benefit from the refinery through ownership of shares. He plans to ensure that BNE continues to act in the best interest of Belize by allowing for a certain percentage of the shares are owned by Belizeans.

We then asked the Prime Minster what he considers his leadership style. The Prime Minster said that he is not a “micro-manager”. He believes that people should be allowed to do their jobs without constant interference from him. He said that given the magnitude of his own responsibilities, that would make for an impossible situation. He has an expectation of professionalism, honesty, and utmost respect for the people. He admits he is a forthright person. He will directly address issues as they present themselves but it is not his style to be arbitrary or condescending to his staff.

This brought us then to the question of what the Prime Minister thinks about criticism branding him as arrogant. He said that he doesn’t consider himself to be arrogant but rather thinks of his approach as direct and confident. However, if his critics insist on labeling him as such, he would prefer to be known as arrogant rather than dishonest. He reiterated that he conducts his office professionally and with rigorous honesty. No one can accuse him of receiving bribes or collusion. He is honest with the public about difficulties we face as a nation. He refuses to conceal the truth and does not hide behind rhetoric. He further went on to claim that there is absolutely no incidence or occurrence of fact to substantiate the rampant accusations of antagonists. He feels that “independent and fair minded voters” could easily identify the strengths of his character. He believes that regardless of all the negative information that is propagated out there, people who believe in facts, will know the truth and that truth wins out in the end. Ultimately, he feels that he will be judged by his integrity and openness to the public.

We followed this by asking the Prime Minster if there was any one leader with whom he identifies. He said that he is a voracious reader and as such, he is familiar with many well-known leaders, but he feels that at this moment he can most relate to the President of the United States, Barrack Obama. He acknowledges that the population size of Belize is nowhere near that of the US nor is our government near the scope of that of the US. Nevertheless, he feels that like Obama, he was hailed as the agent of change and as they both began their terms, he watched, that similarly to himself, President Obama’s high approval ratings gradually declined as time progressed. The recession dashed hopes, demanded compromises and spurred economic crisis. He said that while Belize’s parliamentary system does not face the gridlock of the United States’ governing body, Belizeans are faced with similar economic conditions, expectations and challenges, thereby creating similar tensions, disappointments, negativity and disharmony. The Prime Minster said that despite the tense atmosphere and barrage of allegations cast his way, the President’s eloquence, persuasive nature and the way he balances his rhetoric is admirable. Along with paying keen attention to the goings on in our neighbour’s government, the Prime Minister also does a lot of reading. In order to keep up with world events and to make decisions with an accurate perspective of Belize’s place within a global context, the Prime Minster reads much about world politics and world economy in papers such as The New Yorker, The Wall Street Journal as well as magazines and books. As for light reading, he prefers classics such as George Elliot, Charles Dickens and Charlotte Bronte.

The final question was more personal in nature as we asked the Prime Minister about the effects that a diagnosis like that of Mrs. Kim Simplis-Barrow has had on him. He said it was a tremendously difficult moment when he found out she had cancer. He describes the worst night of his life as when they were waiting for the results of the scan which would determine if the cancer had spread. Her diagnosis was Stage 3, but could have also possibly had advanced to Stage 4. He was absolutely relieved to find out that it was not a Stage 4 diagnosis. He said that even though he has had a tough time watching his wife undergo this fight for her life, he can only imagine that “it is a million times rougher on her”. He said Mrs. Barrow has been a “trooper” so that even though she has had some low moments during the course of her treatment, her courage has been a powerful testimony to her character. She is brave, unrelenting, calm and positive.

At the end of our interview, he thanked us for the opportunity to add clarity and definition to his position and that of his government. We in turn, thanked him for the opportunity to provide our readers with such an up close look into the inner workings of our leader. We also wished him, the First Lady and their family, all the best for the upcoming medical visit this week.

Our Impressions of the Interview:

Leadership is a process. It is such an arduous task that in fact, given the opportunity, most people could not function as leaders. In addition, leadership today is made even more difficult as society has grown cynical, disrespectful and doubtful. We are now in an information age where lies and propaganda can be disseminated in a matter of seconds. People can damage a person’s credibility and reputation in a matter of minutes.

I (Aria Lightfoot) met Justice Clarence Thomas in 2011 and he said something that resonated with me. “We can no longer raise a generation of children believing the game is fixed and raise them in a cynical society and cynical about leaders”. He said that children must believe in hope and possibilities for them to chart the future of the United States. As builders of Belize’s future, we must learn to be respectful in our approach to all our leaders. Prime Minister, the Right Honourable Dean Barrow, has given his entire life to the betterment of Belize. In spite of all the unfavourable political rhetoric that is out there, Belize’s democracy is more vigourous, informative and louder than any other time in our history. We have freedom of speech so our leaders are under constant scrutiny and criticism. Therein lies the most precious gift of our time: the freedom to be who we want to be, the freedom to want what we want and the freedom to demand it from our leaders.

In light of our economic crisis, crime rate, poverty and this recent underlying divisive agenda of anti-government proponents, Belize needs confident, skilled, experienced and unifying leadership. Benjamin Franklin once said “any fool can criticize, complain and condemn and most fools do”. We should be offering solutions to help build Belize. We are at a moment in our society where pettiness, vendettas and irrelevance should not enter into our public debate. We need to agitate for changes but we should not agitate with the sole purpose of undermining our society. We keep reading sentiments such as “this is not my PM or government, I did not vote for him”. Whether or not you want to accept it, once elections are over, the government of the day is each and every Belizean’s government.

We, at Twocanview, only have the best interest of all Belizeans at heart and wish only the best and most progressive leadership for our nation. Is the Right Honourable, Dean O. Barrow, that leadership we seek and need? Only time will tell. In the meantime, let’s lend our best efforts to the development and growth of our country.

“Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”

-John F. Kennedy, Inaugural Address, January 20, 1961