Assistance or Hindrance? by: Aria Lightfoot


“The political machine triumphs because it is a united minority acting against a divided majority”. — Will Durant

Who are elected officials in Belize legally accountable to? Anyone knows if there are enforceable laws to offset bad behavior?  It is quite unlikely. I know I am beating a dead horse and I am frustrated by the arrogance of our leaders to ignore our cry for change but I find myself once again addressing the same issue two months later.

Another “special” assistance program?!  Another unregulated, unmonitored program when payment of the super bond looms?    Stop using our taxes to funnel money to standard bearers for political mileage.  There is no way to paint this new assistance program the Prime Minister is giving out other than taxes being used to support the campaigns of his political party.  And I guess the lack of outrage comes from those citizens hoping to benefit. I paged through the Laws of Belize to see if there was anything illegal with this behavior and what I read in the Finance and Audit Act Chapter 15 (not even sure if that was the appropriate law) was the use of the word “minister” quite a bit. The entire laws of Belize need to be burned at the stake and we need a whole new set of laws in its place where accountability and oversight are the major themes.  No Minister should have such level of discretion to use  public funds as a personal piggy bank.  The political machinery is turning our country into a haven for beggars and thieves.

Political machines depend on getting people out to vote. They depend on the spoil system and political patronage, they believe in established systems of hierarchy and they breed a culture of corruption and crime. (For more information on how political machines work please see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_machine).  In the late 19th and early 20th Century, many places in the United States operated much like Belize’s political environment. Political machines were used to win elections.  Once elections were won, the system of governance was inefficient, corrupted, and inept and was the breeding ground for the mafia and violent street gangs that cooperated with politicians.  Sounds familiar?  Fast forward over 100 years and in 2012 Belize is still practicing the failed policies of political parties of yesteryear.

Reformers in the US realized that the political parties needed to be curtailed. Many laws regarding financing, candidates, accountability, oversight, corruption were put in place.  Remember Belizeans, political parties function to win elections and patronize their faithful followers and use the power of the State for their personal gains. They are not running to represent your cause or develop Belize.  We are at the lowest ebb of political integrity and nationalism in Belize.

I am outraged that taxes are being spent in this wasteful way and unaccountable manner. I am disappointed that the Prime Minister, after condemning the past administration for similar behavior, now feels he owes no explanation.    What should we expect when the Legislative and Executive are one body?  The use of tax payers’ funds for political mileage may not be illegal, in fact, it is well within the Prime Minister’s discretionary power, however, it is unethical; it lacks fiscal responsibility and does nothing to develop our country. It stinks!  Every Belizean with hands out has become an accomplice to this level of unethical, self destructive behavior.  Belizeans should not complain later when taxes are higher, when jobs are lost and when inflation sharply increases.  Belizeans, there is no such thing as a “free” hand out. You will pay for it later.

When money is thrown around during election time, it creates a temporary fix.  Businesses are misguided thinking that money exists and may invest into more products they can’t sell later.  People suddenly have extra money and begin investing in unneeded items, that will not help stave off a future financial crisis,  the economy reports project growths and causes investors makes bad decisions. It really is a well disguised lie.  Since the stream of income is temporary, in just a couple years, the impact of poor policies will be felt.  It is a vicious cycle that both political party governments practice to win elections.  Each election cycle is digging Belize into a deeper financial hole.

Here are some solutions that are in no way exhaustive.  Demand accountability; demand changes of our laws; demand oversight and transparency;  demand that the discretion of ministers be removed; demand that the Public Service become empowered and function outside the claws of the politicians.  In Florida, city councils and county governments are non-partisan. Meaning that candidates cannot run under the umbrella of a political party and the parties must stay away from electioneering. Do we really need the political parties in our city and municipal governments to build roads and parks and provide basic city services?   Think about it, if we eliminate political parties at the local level, we may also attract more civic minded candidates. We are in desperate need of change Belizeans! We are in a cycle of abusive, self destructive and misguided politics and policies. Changing parties is not the solution, unless they will change our entire political system.  We are crumbling financially and morally because political party agendas reign supremely over national agendas. The time is NOW to demand better and expect better.  Wake up Belizeans! As you sleep, our country falls apart.