I received information today that is quite a bit disconcerting. I was told that our doctor who consistently reaches inconclusive results, is not an actual forensic pathologist. He never specialized in the field. I can neither confirm nor deny this information; however, if this information is true…He is operating in a field he has no expertise in whatsoever. As tax payers I urge that you demand to know if this information is true. What are his credentials? Is there some great ongoing miscarrying of justice? What happens to all those bodies he has examined in the past? Who would be liable if such is the case? What is the solution? I demand answers. I demand that the people who should know, provide this information ASAP. If this information is true…This is shocking, unacceptable and maybe even illegal! Jasmine deserve better. Belize mainstream media, time to start asking the tough questions!
England is celebrating Queen Elizabeth’s 60 years of rule with a grand show of pageantry and seemingly genuine sentiments of gratitude and pride. I’m going to say something that is NOT going to be popular but I have long held this opinion, even as a child. One could accuse me of being influenced by my father who opposed independence in 1981. While his son, Henry Jr., was meeting the Duke, my dad was at the cayes building his house, refusing to be a part of what he saw as a premature move on George Price’s part.
However, I am unwilling to say that it is his influence which makes me have this very strong conclusion still to this day: we should not have asked for independence when we did. I really believe that we were unprepared as a people to take over the role of leadership. I believe that it was a very self serving agenda upon which George Price embarked. He cared more about his legacy than the shambles in which his decision would leave us.
See, what we refuse to admit is that we did not have the tools for rule. Not yet. We are a small nation with a small population with little and poor infrastructure. Old George asked us to enter the game very late and compete globally with economic giants. We didn’t have roads; functioning medical clinics; developed industries; an educated and experienced pool of people from which to chose our new government; an army; a proper airport….and the list goes on. You can say to me now: “Well we have all of that now.”
Really? At what cost? Our crime rate is ASTRONOMICAL! We owe sooooooo much money and our people are suffering with a truly disgraceful number of 50% BELOW the poverty level. Our justice system is a JOKE. Yeah. I said it. There is NO justice when lawyers run our country into the ground, using their knowledge to intimidate and STEAL from our people.
We should have prepared ourselves BEFORE jumping up and down like impatient children waiting for the ice cream truck. We did not need to get independence in order to develop as a nation. We should have made the British Empire develop allllll that stuff for us first. After all they owed us. They took all of our resources and left us with nothing. And we let them because we had stupid, blind, false pride. We were gonna show them we didn’t need ’em. So we kicked them out and left ourselves stranded and struggling. Nowhere is safe in Belize anymore. Is this what we imagined? Was our precious independence worth all this killing and strife?
Our best minds keep leaving, never to return, afraid, because the risk hardly seems worth it. Our children are raped and murdered with no recourse. Our people are dying in record numbers from all kinds of diseases and cancer is ravaging our population. Guatemala is still claiming us and forcing us to have a referendum over something that should be moot by now. Our citizens are having to fight ignorance and archaic laws to just establish basic rights. Children are going to school hungry or none at all. Our land is soon to be ours no longer since the only way to make money is to sell the one asset we do have to the Americans or the Chinese.
Don’t get it twisted people. I have no love for colonialism nor any allegiance to royalty but I sure as shit would have preferred making them give us what we deserved as their subjects before kicking their asses out because now we sure are in the crapper and I don’t know how we are going to get out of shit hole we dug ourselves into.
We just started our blog a mere 5 months ago and so much has happened! To Aria and me…to Belize…none of it could have anticipated. BUT Aria seems to have assessed the political climate accurately at least. Check out one of her first pieces: Tell me what you think!
by Aria Lightfoot
“If we could first know where we are, and whither we are tending, we could then better judge what to do, and how to do it.”
In the ad lib words of President Lincoln, to get to where we are going, we must know where we are. 2011 is fading; 2012 is approaching fast and Belize faces municipal, city council and general elections. The implications are for a positive financial outlook for the Belize voter. The money for votes exchange is off to a head start and the political warriors are gearing up for battle. At this juncture it is difficult to determine what the future leadership of Belize will look like, I have my own speculations, however in politics, the only certainty is uncertainty. Voters are fickle and needy; political parties’ popularity fluctuates between love and hate. Hate while in government and love while in opposition.
I predict in 2012 that it really doesn’t matter which party holds the majority in the House and municipal elections. Crime, poverty, corruption, inefficiency, apathy of leadership, politics of patronage, special interest politics, the growing divide between rich and poor will remain constant. Are the major political parties reluctant, stubborn and arrogant? Or are politicians merely a reflection of our corrupted society? The voting patterns in Belize suggests a yearn for change; however the inability to articulate it has resulted in major changes at the polls with little changes to much else. What does corruption even mean to the average citizen? Does the average citizen know that hustling on the side, hooking up family members and friends, pushing friends to the front line, erasing the professional and personal line, selective enforcement, turning a blind eye, paying tax paid government officials to complete work, accepting money for votes, buying anything on the black market, inflating contracts to benefit friends and family, hiring and promoting due to relationship rather than skill; educating friends and family and supporters, denying access to qualified citizens, special favors of any kind…equals corruption? Lets us begin the arduous journey of reflection on the impact we make on the society.
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
When Aria posted her “ramblings” I was like nahuh….I’m not doin’ daaaaat! But birthdays have a funny way of making you reflect and so here we are.
I couldn’t have anticipated much of what has occurred in my life…it vaguely resembles what I had planned, more like a Monet or a van Gogh…you know they are flowers but you nevah saw no flowers that looked like that! LOL
As I moved through life, from child to teen, to young adult and now what I consider my “conquering the world” adult years, the way I tell my story has changed. As a child, my life was points on a line: first this, then this, then that. And in relaying it to others, there was a sort of unspoken competition as to who had the worst, or most interesting thing happen to them. So, it was about being born in one place, moving a bunch of times, catholic school, getting stitches, ruined birthdays, Santa Claus, caye trips, death, car accidents, visits to family in faraway places, mean teachers and strict parents. I knew that much of my experience was traumatic and as such had an impact on my attitudes, beliefs and decisions I made. I was aware of that much at least. So, I acted from a place of “I’m not going to do anything that will get me into trouble and make my life more complicated”.
That sounded like a good plan but it didn’t work. Emphatic FAIL. I became an over achiever, a perfectionist, succeeding pretty much at every challenge I undertook which sounds awesome but I was an anxious worry wort, always waiting for the next bad thing to happen. And while it is prudent and wise to be cautious, it is crippling to the soul to be in the grips of fear. That was what I truly was, in the grips of fear. I told myself that I was being smart, being prepared, avoiding mistakes with dire consequences. But the truth was, I was hiding from life. I had to come to believe, not all by myself, of course, in a devastating untruth. You know the one: if you work hard, great will be your reward? And so I did. I avoided the pitfalls such as experimenting with drugs, breaking the law, getting pregnant, failing out of school. But along with that was a great avoidance of many other things and before you know it, I had backed myself into a dark little corner. So afraid was I of being vulnerable and failing that I rejected new adventures, developing my talents, even friendships and I demanded utmost integrity and loyalty from those I did let in.
This behaviour created great dissonance. See, that is not me. Inherently, I am a dare devil. I am a fighter at heart and this role I was trying to embody was too safe, too perfect and absolutely unattainable, at least, by me. I was trying to be Brie Van de Camp and while I have some similar qualities, there is so much to me that is in direct opposition to Brie. And thank god cause seriously, she is one messed up chick 🙂 and uhm she lives on tv. LOL To get beyond this self imposed prison of Briedom, there was something I had to do first. I had to accept I was not Brie. Ok, now what? ARGHHHHHH! Ruuuuuuuuun! My real self is tooooooo much! She is loud! She is foul mouthed! She loves Kathy Griffin! She doesn’t care about being thin! (WTH?) She likes pizza! And sex! And wild children! And gay people! And COLOURS: Burnt orange and teal! O yeah, and she doesn’t believe in god…hmmmm. And she just might be a democrat… o gosh!
It took years and years of lots of painful reflection, stop-starts, denial- confrontation, to get here. It was not easy at all and there were moments when I wondered if all this was really worth it. I mean, couldn’t I just go on with life, prescribed and just put one foot in front of the other, miserable but knowing where I was going? But, my inner fighter demanded more. She knew I could do better and I knew that if I listened and tried again and again, I just might be happy for the first time in my life. Besides, having two girls made it impossible to give up because I wanted better for them and the only way I could do that was if I started being/doing better myself.
See…acceptance is way bigger than what we think it is. Sure, we know what it means. It means to surrender, acknowledging a reality and not attempting to change it. Hmmmmmmm….I have said many, many, many, many, many (you get my point) times that I accept something but then found out I really hadn’t. I would find myself rehashing things in my mind, thinking of what I could do different or how I could get the other person to “see” my point, hoping against hopes of hopes that magically everything would be ok and these people would say sorry and spend the rest of their lives making it up to me… LMAO…buwhahahaha….I can laugh boisterously now but for so long, it was definitely NOT funny.
Part of it was just lack of experience…I was just not old enough to know that some things just are and they stay that way. Some of it was a need to have everyone I love, love me back. And then there was the impossible standard I set for myself that I could get anyone to at least respect my views, feelings etc even if they didn’t agree. I never really took into account that others are not like me, that they have different values and gifts and levels of understanding, compassion etc….I “knew” it intellectually but I didn’t ACCEPT it. And as such, I set up myself for a lot of repeated scenes in the same act of the same play, never really moving to the next phase…Today, I think I am there.
This is truly the best gift I could have ever given myself: the gift of self acceptance. It takes a lot to accept. It is rejecting ideas passed on to you; societal expectations; familial pressures; history. It is admitting that those, who taught you the rules of life, were wrong. It is saying goodbye to old things that no longer apply, those things that can not be relevant if one is to embrace the future and the promise of things being different. You can’t hold on to the pain of the past, if you want to truly feel the pleasure of the present. You can’t fret about the mishaps and mistakes of the past if you hope to achieve true fulfillment in the future.
It felt risky. It was very scary for me to let go of all that I knew and to go searching for that which was unknown to me. There was no guide, no older, wiser leader showing me the way. I had to stumble and fall, stumble and fall some more till I thought I would just lay there and give up. I broke down all that had made me feel like me before, brick by brick, till there was nothing left and then brick by brick I rebuilt, not a wall around me, but a giant stage for me to stand on 🙂
I have come a long way and I know there are still more things to find out and accept and it will be difficult at times. As a matter of fact, I was challenged just a few days ago and I was knocked sprawling to the ground. I slipped into old patterns of responding by internalizing and acting angry and hateful, playing the nasty words over and over in my head till they became my words. Then I gave myself a stern talking to and reminded myself that that was not me anymore. And I had to accept yet something else, that I still will not always be prepared and I will do the wrong thing; but, now I’m not so scared and I am not worried about laughing at myself when I take things too seriously and end up failing spectacularly. I accept and forgive and accept and forgive myself some more. And the more I do it, the freer I become and happier I feel. I am not going to be a famous doctor or actress or whatever the hell else society considers success and I accept it. I have a different definition and I accept it. I am good enough, today. And I accept that.
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