Since the 2006 Municipal elections the United Democratic Party have won and controlled all the municipalities in the country of Belize except for Orange Walk Town which has been under the control of the People’s United Party (PUP) since. The municipalities include; Belize City a Mayor and ten Councilors, Belmopan City the capital a mayor and six city councilors, Punta Gorda Town a Mayor and seven councilors, Dangriga Town a mayor and seven councilors, San Ignacio / Santa Elena Town a mayor and seven councilors, Benque Viejo Del Carmen a Mayor and seven councilors, San Pedro Ambergris Caye Town a mayor and seven councilors, Orange Walk Town a mayor and seven councilors and Corozal Town also with a mayor and seven councilors. When this is all added it comes up to nine mayors and 67 councilors.
In the elections that were held recently, the People’s United Party (PUP) won Belize City, Orange Walk Town and Corozal Town. This gives them three mayors and 25 councilors out of 67 because a PUP councilor also won in Dangriga Town. Now the UDP have six mayors and 42 councilors which is still the majority but losing Belize City is a major shock to them. Why? Because since the UDP came to power in Belize City in 2006, they have spent millions of dollars on infrastructural development in Belize City compared to the other municipalities. Yet, despite all this spending, Belize City has the highest amount of gangs, crimes and murders in the entire country of Belize.
This has caused many city residents to leave the city to live elsewhere in the country and Belizeans who live abroad to build their homes away from Belize City. Tourist have also avoided the city and if they go there, they have to be very cautious of what parts of the city they go to avoid becoming victims of crime. It has gotten so bad in Belize City, that every time you listen to Belize news, two or more people have gotten killed for no good reason or reasons. Life in the city seems to have no value no more and many city residents are living in fear for their lives. Many of the accused killers have been arrested, brought to trial for their crimes, acquitted or sent to prison but the killing goes on like there is no end in sight and no regards for a person’s life. The government has come up with several plans to combat these crimes and murders but nothing has changed in Belize City.
There has been a lot of emphasis on upgrading the law enforcement strategies but it has not worked and it is not working. Maybe, now is the time for the government to look into the root causes of crime in Belize and implement some programs to change the minds of the young and poor Belizeans. People who do not have the basic means to survive as human beings, are vulnerable and become good customers to be induced to commit crimes and they will commit them. When the elections come around, they will take any amount of money to vote for a candidate but they do no really care about the candidate, his party, his politics nor his ideas. The worst thing any political party or politician can do, is to pay Belizeans to vote for them because the situation will only get worse and has gotten worse. People will only vote when they get paid a certain amount of money and will not vote if the right money is not given to them.
The value of the Belizean vote has diminished and is diminishing over time as well. The United Democratic Party in power now, need to pass Campaign Finance Laws in Belize as soon as possible to save Belize’s democracy. The legislation should set a reasonable amount of money that all candidates should spend for Municipal, General and all Elections. Also, make it a Criminal Offense for any candidate running for office, to pay or bribe a citizen to vote for him or her. An Ethics Commission should also be established by the Election and Boundaries Commission, with a representative from all the registered political parties in Belize to be on the board. This commission will have the power to monitor the enforcement of our election laws and practices. If the laws are being violated by anyone, charges must be brought against the candidate or candidates and if they won the election it should be voided and another election must be held after the court proceedings.
I left Belize in 1978 but have stayed in tune with Belize politics since my departure. I have spoken to many Belizeans who live here in the United States and in Belize about the state of politics in our country. If money has now come to be the main reason why a candidate can win a seat for office in Belize, then we will not get the best people to represent us and become our leaders. We will only corrupt our political system further.
There are many qualities that a person needs to become a leader and money is only one of them. With this type of system in place, these are the results that we will get in Belize politics; rich people ruling the country and securing their personal and family interest, rich people ruling the poor people and paying them for their votes, rich people leading the intelligent poor people and using them as puppets to serve their interest, unintelligent rich people becoming our representatives.
Campaign finance laws could be a controversial issue like it is here in the United States. However, in a small country like Belize it should work. Because it is needed so that the political parties do not have to go and look for rich people to finance their campaigns and then become obligated to them. The Michael Ashcroft experience with our then Prime Minister Said Musa and the People’s United Party (PUP), seems to have not taught us a lesson yet. If it did not teach us anything then, it will not teach us anything again. We are still haunted by that relationship and it is costing our people and nation millions of dollars.
If we love our people and country the way we say we do, then let us get up and do something to show our people and country how much we really do love them. Remember, that if we do not act our country and future will end up in the hands of the wealthy over our poor vulnerable Belizean citizens. Some of these things are taking place in our country now as we speak and it is time for it to end. Our country of Belize cannot continue to endure this pain and suffering no more. All Belizeans who care and love our people and country, should join me so that together we can call on our government representatives to act now before it is too late to save our beloved country Belize.