Saturday, July 22, 2017

Critical Systems Failure

Sunday, July 16, 2017, 18:44
This news item was posted in Editorial category and has 0 Comments so far.
A 13-year-old is dead. She didn’t die in an accident. She wasn’t suffering from a terminal illness. She wasn’t a casualty of any natural disaster. It wasn’t her time. Faye Lin Cannon, a beautiful, intelligent child, died a terrible death at the hands of monsters. A post mortem examination has shown that she was beaten to death. Multiple ribs were broken and she had bruises on her body and a cut wound on her head. Somebody pressed so hard on her chest that the bone penetrated her heart. Faye Lin is dead because of the evil inside some of us. Residents of San Pedro claim that they reported the situation of Faye Lin and her three siblings to the pertinent authorities many times, and their concerns fell on deaf ears. They went to the Police. They went to the Human Development officer on the island. And nobody listened. Faye Lin Cannon is dead because the systems put in place to protect her did not. Those systems failed…and failed her. And frustration, grief and outrage aside, there is nothing which will bring her back. So very many of our systems are failing right now – systems put in place to protect us, to uplift us and to preserve our rights. Systems to ensure that each of us is guaranteed the protection of the law but none of us is above the law.  Systems put in place to protect our money and national assets. Systems put in place to ensure that we Belizeans have equal access to opportunities and services. Systems put in place to ensure fair access to education and health. Systems put in place to ensure that we are not targeted, abused or victimized because of our political affiliation, or any affiliation. Systems put in place to ensure that we are taxed fairly, and our taxpayer dollars are spent responsibly and wisely. Systems put in place to provide us with transparency and accountability. Systems to provide swift and fair justice to all. Systems to guide a true democracy. ALL FAILED or FAILING. And the blame must be laid squarely on the shoulders of our chief policy and decision makers, the Cabinet. We have gotten to a point where there is absolutely no confidence in any of our systems – NONE – and with very good reason. The justice system is one of the most critical in any functional democracy. And in recent years we have seen that system neglected, manipulated, influenced or discarded by politicians at their convenience. We have seen some of our top-ranking Police officers give up their integrity without qualm at the behest of Ministers. Our Commissioner of Police is thought to be nothing more than a political puppet. That incestuous relationship between the Police and politicians has resulted in an entirely new set of laws for persons with political connections. There are many instances of persons breaking the law with impunity because the Police received instructions from their political masters. Just weeks ago the sons of Minister Edmond Castro assaulted two Police officers while they were being detained. Official Police documents show that both officers requested Court action yet the Castro brothers were allowed to walk out of the Police Station without charges. And the Commissioner of Police refuses to answer any questions about it. That is how broken our systems are. And then, too, we have seen outrageous abuse of the system to benefit politicians. Just recently the Police in San Ignacio were used to arrest vocal talk-show host Louis Wade who was all set to release an exposé chronicling corruption by the UDP Minister of Works. Wade was assaulted while shooting footage by the son of Minister Rene Montero, but Robert Montero was not arrested by Police. Instead, incredibly, Louis Wade was arrested and charged for assault even though he was the victim. The entire ‘investigative process’ was a farce and a travesty and the Magistrate wasted no time dispensing of it. But it should not have gotten to that point. It only did because the Officer Commanding San Ignacio is known to be a very close affiliate of UDP Minister Rene Montero. The system was used and manipulated to benefit a politician, when instead it should have guaranteed Louis Wade justice and it should have protected his rights. There is a frustration building which has been palpable for some time now. There is an anger building because it has become apparent that our systems only work for certain persons on certain occasions. It is now clear that when the poorest and most disadvantaged Belizeans need those systems to work, they do not. And as we saw in the case of Faye Lin Cannon, when our systems should protect those most at risk, they do not. We look around us and we see that poverty has not gone away. In fact, it is getting even more pervasive. We look around and realize that it is impossible for a normal Belizean to get a piece of the jewel. We look around and we see our children forced to drop out of school because dire poverty is real. We look around and we see our justice system failing us every single day. BUT we also look around and see the wealth and privilege of UDP Ministers growing. We see that they get what we do not. We see that they have what we do not. And we get angrier and angrier. We are at the point of critical systems failure. And at that point, something’s going to give. And it’s not going to be pretty or pleasant.
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