Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Everyone's Leaving

I have never heard so many people say they are finally ready to leave Belize. And leaving they are. In droves. Legally and via the swim of the Rio Grande. The big question is what is the straw that has finally broken the camel's back. Is it crime? The economy? The lack of hope? Or like me, do they just feel that the country they love doesn't love them back anymore?

No one wanted to make Belize work more than me. I gave up lucrative offers coming out of school in the US to come home, because I wanted to make a difference. I wanted to change Belize. And come hell or high water I was going to make a difference. 11 Years later, I am forced to admit that I might be wrong.

And while, I would not have met my wife or had my lovely kids had I not come home, it goes without saying that I believe there is no hope left for any of us here. 

We feel we can't go anywhere without fear of being robbed. We are penned in our homes behind 8 foot barbed wire fences, motion detectors, camera, dogs, deadlocks galore and police who don't care. We work hard to earn an honest living (how do the poor do it?), but find that our money goes nowhere. We drive on dirty potholed streets with beggars all around. We sit and endure blackouts because the power company has run out of excuses. Our businesses don't get any patronizing if we are blue or red or unless we can offer a kickback of some kind. But most of all we live in country where everything seems to be a hustle, where honest citizens are being outflanked and outplayed by criminals of every kind. Criminals from Albert Street to the ones calling the National Assembly home.

Unfortunately more and more of the true Belizean Patriots are cutting their losses and throwing in the towel. I for one am now deciding what towel that should be.

As we sit and watch our home get robbed on a Sunday afternoon while the police take 6 hours to respond, we are left to wonder...is it all worth it? Is the safety of our children worth the pride you may have had in sticking it out?

Some may say, stand up, run for office and do something about it. This is an unrealistic ideal. You cannot make a rotten apple good again. You cannot change a system that does not want to be changed by the politicians, the hustling high society and the commoners who enjoy their "free education" and turkeys at Christmas time. A bukut stinks now and will stink in 10 years.

Belize does not want to be changed. EVERYONE knows that, and those who pretend that it does are fooling themselves. Voters will never vote for someone who stands up and says "I pledge no more handouts". They will never vote for politicians whose line of thinking is "lets pay our leaders well enough to a) attract qualified people and b) as way of discouraging dishonestly" (that is another blog entirely!). Business people will never back politicians who truly want to clean up the hustling, because the these businesses depend on hustling to get goods through customs! The foxes are watching the chicken coup and the hens aren't coming in OR out.

Belize is in an ever tightening circle of Mutually Assured Destruction. The only questions that remain are when do you abandon ship and  where do you go....the USA is not for me!


Democrates said...

I have been hearing people say they want to emigrate for years now. This is nothing new and certainly not unique to a developing country. I agree, in some respects, that the social environment is deteriorating because of rampant crime. But, the ever optimist that I am, I believe that it will stabilize and perhaps even mitigated.

Likewise, the economy, is struggling, and the fact that even 1st-World countries are struggling in the 21st century doesn't bode well for us developing nations. All it does is strengthen the old saying that "When America sneezes, Belize (and most other developing countries) catches a cold."

Do I think that the situation is absolutely destitute and warrants emigration, as of this point? Hell no. I have seen many Belizeans emigrate to the United States, and claim to be living the good life when they live in one bedroom apartments and paying exorbitant monthly rents. This is not to say that the quality of life may not be better. Sure, you can survive on McDonald's, but can you own your home? Can you afford a car and the ridiculous insurance that comes along with it?

My point is, we are NOT Sub-Saharan Africa. Tings HAAD, but things are not impossible. A life of luxury may be impossible, but a life can survive with the basics.

Anonymous said...

One would say you seem young and full of courage democrates... but we still do need that energy full of life from those coming up.

I agree with the post to some degree like you mentioned...and you are right, we are not Sub-Saharan Africa, but i think the point of the post is, we can either exist the best we can in the environment we are in or die out of frustration in trying to fix what is obviously wrong.

I am not ready to jump ship.. but maybe that is because i don't have many options outside of Belize. Who is to say should something come along. I see friends come back with that zeal for change and get emotionally exhausted with the almost vertical hill battle and at some point are broken, accept and become part of the broken system. Its no wonder the general attitude is get yours while you can and screw the rest.

To live comfortably, yes, we can... how realistic it is to change the mentality, politics and overall system we are in? Not very encouraging.

Phacetious Plebbe said...

I must say, after reading the post, and then reading the comment placed by democrates, that I have to agree with democrates. I come from Jamaica, and if you want to talk about "life haad out ya", try living there in this day and age. I was there in 2002,working downtown, when the most notorious gang leader, Zeeks, was detained by the police. I saw grown men, hardened policemen, cry living eyewater when they saw what their beloved Jamaica had come to, where the only recourse the police had, short of firing teargas into the crowd, to disperse them, was to allow Zeeks to come on the balcony of the police station to show the people, not his cohorts or followers, but the PEOPLE, that he was not being brutalized in any way. I remember the fierce gunfire that transpired for 3 full days thereafter, when the police AND the army were in full armed combat with gunmen, due to Zeeks' detention. I remember being at the family court, looking up the road, and seeing a man lying helplessly on the road, his brains bleeding out on the road after being shot in the head, supposedly for being an informer

I remember being in Jamaica when Andrew Phang, another (allegedly) notorious criminal was hunted down and killed. The crowd was so large that the venue could barely hold the crowd of thousands. I remember a man coming on the news saying "P.J. Patterson is not our prime minister!!! Phang is our prime minister, because he gives us money to buy food for our kids and he can make my girl child go to the store at evening time!!!" Of course, he omitted the fact that when Phang or any other area don might want his daughter, for sex, even if she was underage, it would be without question that she would have to present herself.

Belize has not yet reached that position. Thankfully, we can say that in Belize, although there is a great amount of corruption, it actually happens relatively quietly. There is much that we have to give thanks for, in Belize.

In any event, if all of us do decide to go from Belize, where are we going to go? Are we going to go to Guatemala? They don't want us, they just want our land. Are we going to go to Mexico? They might tolerate us, but we would become politically and culturally what we are now geographically: Mexico's footstool.

I certainly do not recommend going to the US, at least, not for right now. Apart from me thinking that they have lost sight of what it means to liberty and freedom, I believe that their economy has been so weakened by their own greed and lack of productivity in the last couple of decades, that they do not have the human capital to move forward. Maybe Canada might be a good idea, but it is so darn cold!

Where to go? I honestly don't know. That is why I personally advocate to continue wrestling with the devil that we do know, and try to somehow with God's help, make it better.

P.S. The only time it can truly get better is when Jesus comes back to take his people home. So it won't get better here, just in the new heaven and the new earth that He will create. God be praised.

The Voice said...

Phacetious Plebbe

Thanks for your comment! Wow... how powerful. I think most Belizeans don't realize how GOOD we have it.

An "American" life isn't as easy as it is portrayed to be. Unless you have major bucks, our healthcare is better {They don't kick you out the hospital if you can't afford to play}. The cost of living, the cost of food, it's so expensive!

A simple life is a better life.