Saturday, July 22, 2017

A Sense of Entitlement

Monday, July 3, 2017, 16:20
This news item was posted in Editorial category and has 0 Comments so far.
On Monday, the Police reported the arrest of Gian Espadas, 22. Espadas was busted with over 5 kilos of marijuana, and he was charged for drug trafficking. Moving with that amount of drugs means that Espadas is a relatively large player in the drug underworld. Espadas is known as a George Street affiliate. He is also a very close affiliate of the sons of Minister Edmond Castro. A little over a week ago, he was in the vehicle, along with Jafari and Wasani Castro, when Customs busted them with 89 cases of contraband beer. Interestingly, when asked if drug trafficker Gian Espadas was the same person caught with the Castros smuggling contraband, Police said no. They would later admit, after the media insisted and even provided pictures of Jafari Castro and Espadas together, that it was indeed the same Espadas, the close Castro affiliate, who had been caught with a major cache of drugs. The purpose of this editorial is not to suggest that the Castro boys are trafficking drugs or other illicit items, though the association between Espadas and the Castros and George Street could indeed be cause for such speculation. What we instead want to point out is that the Castro brothers enjoyed a get out of jail free card when detained by Police last week, and apparently enjoy the protection afforded by the rank of their father and his influence over senior Police Officers. The sons of Edmond Castro are known to be very arrogant, and very conscious of their father’s status. But because of their actions they can no longer operate in relative obscurity in Belize. The nation is still in awe of the fact that both brothers allegedly assaulted cops, one of them inside the Police Station, and yet both were allowed to walk without even one charge laid against them. The protection afforded them was blatant and no matter what the Commander of the Southside and the Commissioner of Police say, or don’t say, the truth is clear. But the brothers will pay yet for their arrogance. There is no doubt that every rank and file Policeman will be on the lookout for the Castro clan which seems to have an unnatural propensity for wrongdoing. The media will also be watching. And so too, will be the Belizean public. A situation of Police protection much the same occurred with the son of Senator Minister Godwin Hulse. Kenzle Hulse was accused of pistol-whipping and beating an elderly man. The man was not armed and posed no threat to anyone. But buoyed by his father’s position in Government, Hulse felt that it was okay to take out his weapon and hit the man with it. His arrogance and sense of self-importance were borne out by the subsequent action of the Belmopan Police. Or perhaps we should say inaction. Kenzle Hulse was never detained. And it took months and constant media pressure before the Police very grudgingly moved to charge him. He was called into the office of the OC and then quietly arraigned in Court for a much lesser charge of harm – not aggravated assault as his actions with a deadly weapon warranted. The matter of the former Deputy Prime Minister’s son Andre is no exception. What happened in the Ministry of Natural Resources under Gaspar Vega was stinking rotten corruption – plain and simple. Andre Vega was gifted with $400,000 of taxpayer dollars through an outrightly unethical and illegal deal concocted by his father. That money has not been returned to public coffers by Andre Vega, and if we are to judge by the current status quo, the matter is done. This UDP administration will never really seek to get back that money. The necessary optics will be provided whenever the media raises the question, but that will be the end of that. The Prime Minister, now relegated to paper tiger status, was forced when interviewed to blithely dismiss the actions of the Castros. Even if it were not that Mr. Barrow is rendered toothless by his imminent departure, the fact is that he has not led by example. The PM’s son Anwar, from relative obscurity in 2008 when the UDP came into office, is now a multi-millionaire. His financial windfall is a result of his father’s position in government. He was placed at the helm of BTL by his daddy when he was clearly not qualified for the position. We are told that he received close to $60,000 a month while in that position, and that his severance package after only a couple years was in the region of $1.2M. The Prime Minister’s nepotism has been so blatant and outrageous that it would be impossible for him to chastise any of his Ministers about the behaviour of their offspring. What we have seen, over the past years, is a sense of entitlement by these UDP Ministers, their children and their cronies. For the longest time now these people have helped themselves to resources placed in their trust but not at their disposal. They have wronged Belizeans and we have seen where all our systems designed to safeguard law and order and punish wrongdoing have been subverted to protect those in positions of privilege. The time is coming when the people will rise up, and those arrogant fools who feel secure in that privilege will realize, very painfully, that it was only a false sense of security.  
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