Friday, September 5, 2008

Mayor & Friends

We all know that Zenaida was doing stuff she shouldn't have been doing, but what amazes me are those that are throwing the stones are just as bad if not worse. Z is not doing anything that her predecessors or current councilmen haven't done before. In fact, some are doing far worse. Well all know that Boots and Finney enjoy the funding of the Lord. Mark King, Anthony & Lela have their own side parties going one, ensuring they have a nice cushy parachute. I am not condoning Z actions..not in the least. But, when we put it in perspective of Belizean politics and even her own councillors, she is but a small fry. A small fry about to be thrown to the wolves.

The UDP needed Z at a critical time in the past. And She delivered. She was the only person that could have delivered, except for maybe Ms. Esquivel. Now the UDP are creating a public spectacle of discarding her. Instead of handling the matter behind the scenes, they are enjoying M.A.D (Mutually Assured Destruction).

And who do they want to replace her. A man that can't speak proper english, a man that believes Belize City is Rich vs Poor, a man that thinks he needs a "Special Tourism Zone" to "put proper garbage bins on Albert Street" Eeesh! But a man that has political aspirations of a constituency. Now there is the real story.

We all know Z was not perfect, but at least she was intelligent. At least she represented our city well abroad. At least she started the UDP wheels of change, and for that she deserves a better send off than a kick in the pants from a bunch of hypocrites.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Missing the Boat on Ashcroft

"If home is where the heart is, then Belize is my home."  This heartwarming statement - one that undoubtedly reflects the appeal and innate civility of our Belizean heritage - can be found on the personal website of the richest citizen of Belize, Michael Ashcroft (  To the average Belizean, especially those aware of the recent legal tangos involving the Belize Bank and Belize Telemedia Ltd, the simple mentioning of 'the Lord' invokes vulgar thoughts and expressions.  For many, he represents the worst attributes of Westernized capitalism and the closest living example of an economic colonial master.  Based on these accepted notions of Mr. Ashcroft, it seems both absurd and unsurprising that he would refer to Belize as 'home'.   

Foreign investment (FI) is essential for a country's international relations, and this truth is magnified for developing countries who find it difficult to assert themselves on the global level.  The benefits of FI are numerous:  jobs are created, diplomatic relations between countries are formed and strengthened, foreign exchange is circulated, import/export markets are created etc.  Foreign investment also facilitates privatization of local utility companies.  And yes, privatization in an ever-increasing globalized world is a GOOD thing.  Why?  If companies stay nationalized, the onus is on the government to ensure that those companies are providing optimum services - services that require huge investments that governments cannot afford.  Hence, it is better to shift the burden on an investor, be it local or foreign, to ensure the company's continued economic viability.  

So where does all this fit in with regard to Mr. Ashcroft?  I think too often Belizeans have missed the boat when it comes to Ashcroft (and I can hear the gasps as I said that).  Make no mistake, there have been countless occasions when 'the Lord' has taken advantage of the meager legal system in Belize.  However, it is the responsibility of the government to ensure that investors like him do not reap unfair rewards from their investments; our elected officials are the stewards of our nation and we must hold them accountable for endangering the socioeconomic environment by granting too much power to investors.  All businessmen, not just Ashcroft, are rational and self-interested; to expect benevolence from them would be naive.  Their actions are driven mostly by the amount of dollars they can accrue.  Yet, despite this, most investors of Ashcroft's caliber practice good corporate citizenship.  To his credit, he distributes ten university scholarships every year, adopted a primary school through BTL, built a football stadium and other courteous contributions.  Do these actions warrant our sympathy?  Of course not.  Not even 'the Lord' (no pun intended) can wash his dirty hands in the sea of good-will and expect to be held in good graces.  My case is this:  To complain about Ashcroft, as the COLA (Citizens Organized for Liberty through Action) group has done, is futile and fundamentally misplaced.  Rather, it is better, more effective and more appropriate to pressure our government to ensure that our investors stay in check and maintain good business practices.  When the bully at school hits you, do you get in a fight with him or tell the teacher? That seems to be the predicament Belize has found itself in with regard to Michael Ashcroft. 
And yes, Belize Watch is back.  So spread the word.  We love hearing comments.  

Monday, September 1, 2008

Friends of Tablada

How many of you out there in Cyberland have ever heard of Rudy Guiliani? He had a great idea on how to curb crime that actually worked in NYC. Yet we here in my beloved Belize choose to reinvent the wheel, instead of greasing the wheel already invented for us.

Rudy believed that you had to nip crime in the bud. You had to start with enforcement of the small stuff..the littering, the up-stop riders, and parking wherever the hell you feel like it. Once you started enforcing these (real enforcement, not one night a week), citizens began to develop a respect for the law which started a trickle up effect. Citizens started respecting police officers, which in turn led to halo effect and a slow decrease in bigger crime. According to Rudy you had to start somewhere and like a child going to school, you have to start with the basics. He was right!

Right now, no one respects the law. We litter all over the road (you see the highway after the BDF run this weekend?), hood rats ride up-stop Queen St right in front of the police station, and well taxis..they just feel like the traffic revolves around them. We won't even get into the BTL park mess every night. If we can stop this small stuff, we start to live in a more civil, cleaner, and more abiding society..and yes it will trickle up to violent crime.

Remember, when as youngsters riding to high school the entire city feared Sargeant Tablada?Hell, I wouldn't even ride up-stop in my driveway for fear he would pick me in! The city respected him, I respected him....and no one dare ride up stop. Those days are gone.

What we need my fellow citizens is some political will. A will to start somewhere. That somewhere is the banana skin throwing bus rider and the tacos wrapper litterer.  Let's get on with it my elected officials...lets not avoid the issues because they "voted for you" ...lets make Belize better, one $20 littering ticket at a time.

Coming of the policemen drinking outhouse beer on duty this weekend and those three officers driving up-stop today in a gold Prado to drop one of their daughters to school.

Where is Sgt. Tablada now?