Is Belize still dependent after 39 years: Independence and drastic change is needed to benefit the people and country

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Wellington C Ramos is an Adjunct Professor History and Political Science, Educator and Columnist

By Wellington C Ramos

Our country of Belize received its independence from Great Britain on September 21, 1981, yet, many of our people are living in a state of dependency. Our government continues to borrow money from several countries and institutions to survive, making us more financially dependent, while our nation’s independence is still haunted by the Guatemalan claim to our territory.

According to the Miriam Webster dictionary the word independence means “not dependent,” or not having to depend on anyone or anything else. It also means being strong and able to survive alone. Anything can be dependent or independent. We the Belizean people are educated, and we know that we are not independent in reality because the definition is clear for us to see. Yet, we have failed to demand the People’s United Party (PUP) and the United Democratic Party (UDP) government of their plans – for us to experience living with true independence. The failure to plan is planning to fail. We have witnessed this since September 1981 under these two political parties.

Whenever elections are called this year, both two political parties resurface from the dead to make false unfulfilled promises to our citizens as if we are fools. Knowing, that they cannot implement any of their promises due to the lack of funds. We have been independent now for 39 years and our people need jobs to take care of their families. Currently, in this campaign, none of these parties have spoken about job creation. I am now convinced that they do not want our people to have jobs. Neither the PUP nor UDP have ever brought an Employment Bill to the House of Representatives during the times they were the government of Belize. UDP is now in their third term and the people are still waiting.

When the United States founding fathers were demanding their independence from Great Britain, they all assembled in Philadelphia in 1776 and wrote; “The Declaration of Independence.” At that time, the British were against granting them their independence and had troops in their country to stop any activity for independence. They were planning to make the United States a great nation and it did become not only great but powerful. Do we know what plans the Founding Fathers of Belize had for our nation? If you do, please let us know. We must pose these questions to Said Musa, Assad Shoman and all those PUP ministers who were there with George Price before we achieved our independence in 1981. They all owe us an explanation for the sad situation we have been living under since independence.

Every election the PUP and UDP, draft manifestos packed with many false and unfulfilled promises to get our votes, win elections, and go back and have us continue living under the same conditions.

The US founding Fathers had plans for nation-building, international diplomacy, foreign trade, economic development, industries, manufacturing, military, infrastructure, commerce, and International affairs for 25 years. Belize was given its independence because the British prime minister at the time Margaret Thatcher, saw us a financial burden to them after they had exploited our country for a total of 343 years from 1638 to 1981.

Not only did they exploit our country, but they enslaved some of our people and had them working free of cost as slaves until slavery was abolished on August 1, 1834. No compensation was received from the British for the labor that was provided using force, unlawful imprisonment, human rights violations, and genocide.

Still, many of our people are proud to be British and cherish the names they gave us which were not our original names. The purpose for achieving our independence, was for us as a people to forge our own identity as a nation, love each other as fellow citizens of Belize despite our various ethnicities, be committed to fight and die for our country if asked to do so and to be economically, socially and politically developed. Due to the failure of our founding fathers and our governments to plan our future before and after independence, we are still in a state of dependency.

We the people of Belize go to vote every five years and expect changes to come within those five years. When we elect a UDP or a PUP government for five years, and we do not see any constructive development, we hear blames and excuses coming from the UDP and PUP. Because of our loyalty to these two political parties, we continue to accept their excuses. Our people have not held these two political parties accountable for our state of living and our nation’s deplorable conditions. We just continue to accept their excuses and now it has reached the point where we cannot bear this burden any more.

The time has now come, for us to give another political party the opportunity to manage our people’s affairs and our country. Why? Because we have given the UDP and the PUP too many chances. We cannot play around with our children, our family, our future, and our nation’s future. There is too much at stake. Look how quick we are celebrating our 39 anniversary and nothing much has improved since. The coronavirus pandemic that we are facing has brought about a new reality and consciousness to us – we can be here today and gone tomorrow leaving our children behind to continue living without the necessities of life.

I know that we all have heard the cries of our children when they need something to eat or drink. Then, we the parents get frustrated because we do not have the money to purchase their food or drinks. Employment is one of Belize’ biggest problem and for the PUP and UDP to ignore and neglect this issue for decades is enough to not support their party. We the people of Belize employ our politicians and on election day we will have the opportunity to review their job performance. If we are not satisfied with our current living conditions, then we have no other option but to terminate their employment by voting them out of office.

They do not care about us so why must we care about them. They are living good compared to us. Just look at the lavish lifestyle some of them have been living on our taxpayers’ money since they became our elected representatives. When it is election time, they come looking for you but before elections, you got to go and look for them and sometimes you never get to see them.

What are we celebrating with these realities that we are facing? Are we celebrating our independence, when we know that many of our people and nation are still dependent? If that is the case, then we must stop and think?

We can do better than this and I know we have no other choice but to do better. Not only can we do better but we must because our backs are now against the wall with this coronavirus pandemic which is here to stay. The financial burdens that this pandemic has brought upon our people and nation demand of us to change the way we have been thinking and making decisions for years because promises alone will not solve our daily problems. If we do not change the way we think and make decisions, we will experience more difficult times ahead.

A decision must make. Do we want to replace UDP for PUP again and end up with the same conditions for five years? Over the years we have witnessed that changing from PUP to UDP back and forth has not worked. Our country belongs to us and not to any political party or a select few families and friends.

Time to give the Belize People’s Front (BPF) and their leader Nancy Marin the opportunity to govern our country because UDP and PUP have been given opportunities. They have and are failing us day by day.

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