• Paco Smith | Chairman | BPP

THE SIGNFICANCE OF “LEGAL” HUSTLING AND THE FATE OF THE NATION-STATE OF BELIZE


For approximately the past ten (10) years I have pondered the question, “Why would those who are elected to ensure that Belize’s best interest is served, enter into such an obviously skewed agreement like the Special Agreement/Compromis, thus inevitably and unnecessarily placing the sheer existence of our nation (both geographic and otherwise) in jeopardy of being irreplaceably altered?” I trust this has indeed proven a pressing question, among others, as well. Admittedly, I reached some preliminary conclusions, particularly based on the lacklustre and outright ill-logic and essential cowardice demonstrated by the powers that be, by way of the continued application of their FAILED, bi-partisan PUDP “4A Policy” of: APPEASEMENT, ACQUIESCENCE, ADHERENCE and ACCOMMODATION to Guatemala’s every demand. Such instances are many, ranging from the lack of conviction the GOB showed following the murder of Tourism Police Constable Danny Connorquie, to the unbridled and illegal actions of the Guatemalan Armed Force (GAF)’s unprovoked and unsolicited intrusion into our sovereign territory along the Sarstoon River. This is significant as such actions thereby established Guatemala’s effective command and control, as they continue in the deliberate and consistent harassment of Belizeans, in our own territory; with no substantive response from the GOB, to demonstrate a modicum of conviction in the fact that such aggression shall not be tolerated. Hence, our government and when I say this, I am referring to both sides of the PUDP non-divide, for both the current administration and Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition comprise those who are elected to serve the people of this nation, have undoubtedly failed us!

Interestingly, I believe the answer to my nearly decade-old question was finally revealed via the local newscasts of 5th July 2018. Given what should be clear to all who are willing to see, the outcome is all the more distressing. Let me begin by first stating that what I discerned served to give increased validity to a number of old adages and heart-felt truths. One such example involves what our Caribbean brethren in Jamaica would say, “Story cum to bump”.

The Government of Belize (GOB) announced that the US government and UNDP will provide assistance in the amount of $500,000, via its CARSI programme, toward the GOB’s ICJ “Education Campaign” as well as the current Voter Re-Registration exercise. Beyond the immediate and what should be, obvious notion that came to mind was the old saying which extols, “If you want to get to the truth…follow the money”. To say the least, this development is troubling on various levels. First and foremost, disappointment abounds because it is anyone’s guess as to what, if any, stipulations/safeguards/parameters exist, to ensure this large sum of money shall be used accordingly. Let’s face it, based on the US’s assessment of Belize’s performance in areas such as corruption and human rights it is well below satisfactory, at best. Yet, the US and the UNDP have gifted the GOB half a million dollars toward what has thus far proven an abstract and ill-defined “Education Campaign” regarding the upcoming referendum and its component elements! Therefore I invite one and all to pick sense from the nonsense. After all, that in and of itself, should not only raise a red flag, hopefully it will elicit a considerable degree of discontent, if not significant consternation among the civil society and NGO communities at the very least and hopefully among the wider society.

Truth be told the GOB, by way of its representatives in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have essentially stated that theirs is a pro-ICJ position and most disturbingly, from no less than the top of that Ministry’s hierarchy, the unabashedly and flawed opinion that Belize has no choice but to agree to take the matter to the ICJ, has been continuously espoused. All of this occurs in plain sight of the Head of Government, to which neither a rebuke nor a retraction has been made. Hence, one is left to distinguish that at the highest levels of government, there is no issue with the skewed, singular narrative that continues to be echoed by the Ministry. Of note, when pressed on the matter by a reporter from 7News Belize on 5th July 2018, the FM is quoted as saying, "It's an educational campaign that cannot help being a pro-ICJ campaign for the very simple reason that all indications are that that is the wisest thing to do. Why would anybody want to offer an anti-ICJ when in truth and in fact we are in such a tenuous position? So that it is inevitable that anybody in their right mind would want to advocate for a yes vote. I don't think I am not in my right mind." After witnessing this spectacle, I have no choice but to say, “If that is not the epitome of: irrational, myopic and less-than-erudite insight, please tell me what is!” To this I am compelled to add that over a month ago, the Belize Progressive Party – BPP signaled, in writing, its desire to participate in the GOB’s “Education Campaign” and to-date, neither an acknowledgement of the request, nor a response has been provided.

Given the above-mentioned scenario, it is not beyond reason to conclude that the element at the head of some of our nation’s most significant governance apparatuses are sorely lacking in: insight, intellect and most glaringly common-sense. Therein lies the extremely distressing concern that none other than the two, aforementioned, international entities have granted half a million dollars to the GOB to assist with the so-called “Education Campaign”. Undoubtedly, at the very, least a portion of those monies are derived from US taxpayer dollars and I would hope that Belizeans in the US Diaspora are concerned with the manner in which their hard earned taxes are being utilised. Let me also mention that given the unscrupulous track record of the local powers that be, regarding corruption and their demonstrated lack of impetus to take definitive steps to effectively address it, questions arising as to whether that amount is in Belize or US dollars, is entirely warranted and should be officially clarified.

Anyone who seeks to be honest with themselves, should be hard pressed to say, let alone support the notion that the basic tenets associated with good governance practises and principles hold any manner of significance to those who have continuously been granted the privilege of ensuring that Belize’s best interest is served. Given the wide expanse of scandals and the blatant unwillingness to take effective action to remedy them, I trust no further explanation is required, in that regard. This brings me to my initial question, “Why would those who are elected to ensure that Belize’s best interest is served, enter into such an obviously skewed agreement like the Special Agreement/Compromis, thus inevitably and unnecessarily placing the sheer existence of our nation (both geographic and otherwise) in jeopardy of being irreplaceably altered?” Based on the aforementioned observations, coupled with the overtly zealous manner in which the gift was received, how can one ignore the significance of this occasion, on which $500,000 was garnered by a government with a less-than-reputable track record of: embracing, enacting and practising the basic tenets of good governance such as: transparency, accountability, dialogue and inclusion?

How is it that the US and an internationally renowned development agency like the UNDP, have so-readily provided funding to what amounts to, in both the spirit and parlance of good governance concerns, an unmotivated and essentially rogue regime? This is one among several questions that Belizeans, both at home and abroad should seriously ask, particularly with the looming sprectre of the impending referendum scheduled for 10th April 2019. Not to be lost in this cesspool of institutionalised debauchery is the critically significant reality that given the current status of matters, countless born Belizeans in the Diaspora shall be disenfranchised from participating in the referendum meanwhile many Guatemalans who have obtained Belizean citizenship in contravention of Belize’s Constitution, courtesy of the deliberate facilitation of unscrupulous politicians spanning successive PUDP administrations, will be free to participate and undoubtedly impact this issue, which shall have an unprecedented impact on Belize’s future.

In arriving at the BPP’s position on whether Belize should vote to go to the ICJ, countless hours of research have been undertaken by its principles and as a result of our due diligence, we espouse a definitive “NO to the ICJJ!”, for the defined reasons we have consistently articulated. In effect the realities and inescapable influences of the geopolitical forces in conjunction with the existent international political economy must not be discounted. After all, based on this saga alone, even one who is without sight should be able to discern that the GOB’s actions are suspect and within various respects, could plausibly be perceived as being consistent with one who has seemingly been compromised.

I will simply add that Belizeans from all walks of life, irrespective of their domicile must take a sober look in the mirror and account for these critical concerns. I am resolute that we, as a people, must not become entangled in the wicked web of deception and treachery these unprincipled politicians have weaved. At this eleventh-hour, do not allow yourselves to be consumed by the trap of seeking to rationalise the tired, bi-partisan argument that a juridical approach by any means, even under such inequitable parameters as set forth in the Special Agreement/Compromis, is in our nation’s best interest.

Bottom line, common sense reveals that no former judgment of the ICJ, nor any outdated legal opinion which certainly does not account for the current status of matters, particularly on the Sarstoon River, can negate the inherent-unnecessary risk to which these attorney-politicians have exposed Belize. Therefore, I urge one and all to deal with the brass tacks of the situation at hand and understand that, as a nation, we are but one referendum vote from unreasonably and irresponsibly placing as much as 53% (or possibly more) of our sovereign territory on the chopping block at the ICJ, with no means of recourse. After approximately two (2) years of being ignored, the viable alternative, put forth by the BPP, to effectively address this matter, which very importantly does not place our sovereign territory at risk, has finally been given acknowledgement by some players within this sphere.

Bearing this in mind, I make this entreaty to Belizeans and true friends of Belize, both at home and abroad, to not be guilty of looking at the forest, meanwhile tragically failing to see the trees, as the well-being of our nation is at dire risk. Instead of massaging the egos of those who are clearly following a pre-composed script, drafted by their international handlers, which does not have Belize’s best interest at heart, I ask that you give credence to the sage words of the Hon. Phillip S.W. Goldson, in which he stated, “The time to save your country is (NOW), before you lose it.”

The powers that be, by way of their deleterious disregard for good governance principles and practises, have Belize in a precarious and undeserved socio-economic state. Due to their underlying intentional dysfunction, ineptitude and gross negligence in which unchecked corruption rules the roost, they now seek to drive the final nail in Belize’s coffin, by encouraging Belizeans to blindly follow their ill-conceived and ill-advised counsel as it relates to the Anglo-Guatemalan Territorial Differendum. At the onset, I alluded to the adages which I believe are applicable to this sordid matter. In review one more comes to mind and quite frankly it stands to be the most profound, hence the notion that “Money is the root of all evil”, is most apropos.

Via assessing the manner of LEADERSHIP or more fittingly the gross lack thereof, which oversees the governance of our nation, spanning the PUDP non-divide, I can say without reservation that our elected officials are deserving of a vote of “NO CONFIDENCE”. In reflecting on this constituent episode and assessing the principles, one of my favourite reggae songs comes to mind in which the insights associated with the irrepressible spirit and conviction of those committed to the struggle for truth, justice and righteousness is extolled through the words of none other than Winston Rodney, the Burning Spear, in the epic tune “Legal Hustlers”.

Paco Smith

Chairman

Belize Progressive Party

8867 Today 8867 Tomorrow 8867 Forever

Belize, Sovereign and Free – NO ICJ!

#PacoSmith #Belize #BelizeSovereignandFreeNOICJ #oas #Guatemala #NoICJ #Corruption

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