Friday, August 18, 2017

The Best is Yet to Come

Saturday, July 29, 2017, 19:27
This news item was posted in Editorial category and has 0 Comments so far.
The people of Belize have been betrayed by the United Democratic Party, voted in on an anti-corruption platform in 2008. It is impossible to reconcile the reckless, feckless, brutally, unabashedly corrupt and worthless Barrow Administration of today with that bold yet humble, humanitarian, righteous, pious Barrow Administration of 2008. It frankly boggles the mind to experience today the possibilities that we never imagined back in 2008, so caught up in Mr. Barrow’s hype. The now doddering Prime Minister is so much less of a man than he appeared back then when he was wildly swinging that two-sided machete – rhetorically, that is, because that machete, if it ever existed outside of the mind of this man desperate for power, disappeared on Election Day, never to be seen again.   The duplicity of Dean Oliver Barrow almost defies comprehension. On December 13th, 2016, the Prime Minister was presented with documents chronicling only one example of blatant corruption by his close friend and former Deputy Gaspar Vega. In just that one deal, Vega appropriated for himself 1600 acres of prime land in Carmelita. The documents were there, in hand, under DOB’s noble nose, so to speak. Back then, this is what he said – “…that is to be condemned out of hand. There's no need for any investigation. All I'm saying is we are prepared to accept what is wrong and we are prepared to ensure that consequences attach to the wrongdoer. That is the difference between this administration and the last administration."   Just this week again, DOB was asked about the Vega land corruption – not only that one in Carmelita but others which have emerged. This is what he said on Tuesday, July 26th, fully seven months after his first bold proclamation – “You would have to show me those documents. I don’t know what you’re talking about so I’m not going to comment on something that I have not even seen.” About that compensation scheme which outrageously saw Gaspar Vega gift his son Andre $400,000 of taxpayer dollars and allegedly tens of millions to UDP cronies and affiliates, Barrow said only – “Surely there was in fact some investigation into the state of affairs. You would better speak to Dr. Barnett about how that’s coming along. I don’t have the facts immediately to hand.”   Firstly, the people of Belize must understand that there is NO investigation happening. Forget about any investigation. Secondly, Dr. Barnett will say nothing about any investigation, because there is no investigation. Just to hammer that point home. Thirdly, realize this – millions of dollars, not Dean Barrow’s personal millions, but our taxpayer dollars have been lost, FOREVER, and the man who leads this nation could not be less concerned about it.   Once you realize that Dean Barrow WILL NEVER act definitively on ANY act of corruption in his administration – NEVER, it has not happened and it will not happen – then as a people we know that we have reached the end of the line. When we have gotten to a point where our leaders and those who control our money do what they want when they want because there is no fear of repercussions or sanction, then we are in real trouble.   It is time for a change, but that change has to be REAL. It cannot be more of the same. It cannot be the same soap opera with different characters. It is very safe to say that Belize and Belizeans have never experienced this level of wanton corruption and abuse – EVER. So the change must be powerful.       The People’s United Party has produced its good governance reform agenda and it is a must read. What it does is go to the core of what is wrong with our governance system and propose concrete, doable things to fix it.   One very important commitment by the PUP is this:   “We will immediately strengthen the Integrity Commission, providing the necessary funds for its Secretariat to fulfil its important legal, auditing and investigative roles free from any undue political influence.   Monitor the conduct and performance of Government Ministers and all elected officials in public life to ensure their “honourable” exercise of duties and responsibilities, and to prevent any behavior that can bring disrepute and shame to our nation, to our government and/or to our Party.  Such embarrassing behavior will lead to their immediate expulsion from the Cabinet.   If a Minister is found breaking the law he/she will be subjected to the legal process and will face the consequences like any other person, including jail time. The rule of law means nothing if the laws do not apply equally to all.”   Currently there is no oversight body which can restrain the unscrupulous and greedy thugs in Mr. Barrow’s Cabinet – NONE. Every single body which should monitor, manage and muzzle this motley crew is appointed by and/or has a majority UDP/GOB representation. Mr. Barrow has put the rats to mind the cheese, deliberately. And how the people have suffered.   The PUP offers hope and change. The PUP offers systems which will limit its own power and place that power into the hands of the people, where it belongs. For too long our Ministers have acted like and have been treated like gods. It will not be easy for the people to trust after the betrayal. But with good, strong systems in place, and a commitment by our leaders in the PUP to do the right thing, the best, indeed, is yet to come.
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