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RECOVERING STOLEN ASSETS

RECOVERING STOLEN ASSETS
December 15
18:57 2018

By Nefretery Marin

Many hard-working Belizeans feel left behind by the enrichment of the minority and the stagnation of their economic burdens, created by lack of opportunities and political corruption. These Belizeans are choosing to join a new political force.

This political front, this People’s movement, is fast gaining traction and the reasons for their popularity is based on the proven inability or unwillingness from past political parties and governments to address their problems. Our people have witnessed injustices and inequality of economic opportunities. They have seen the highest rewards in our country going to political families and the well-connected, while working and middle classes have lost bargaining power and their concerns are ignored after politicians gain position.

We are living in an exciting political time in Belize, because they will be the agents of change, they will break the blue and red mafia chains and finally free themselves. It’s not difficult to do.

Though it is an exciting times for voters, it will be dangerous times for myself and my comrades. The present government is a sinking ship and the Opposition is very hungry.

Asset recovery has become one of the major topics in discourses for the BPF; our research is showing an obscene loss in resources and opportunities for our working-class citizens due to massive corruption in Government (past and present).

Public office has constantly been abused for private gain by officials who accept, solicit or extort bribes from both local citizens and foreign investors. Politicians have also abused their office for private benefit through nepotism, the theft of state assets and the diversion of state revenues to their friends, campaign donors and family.

Because both the PUP and the UDP are guilty of the same, our people can no longer depend on either of them to correct the other. These two are interconnected. They are entwined. We have witnessed this not only in words but especially in action. They literally copy each other’s corrupt deeds every single term in office.

Through interviews with various contractors, consultants and investors, we have estimated that through kickbacks alone elected officials divert 10 to 20 percent (sometimes as much as 40 percent) of contract values. The problem with that is that the monetary value of this type of corruption is not the biggest problem.

The true value is the loss of opportunity to invest in development work, alleviation of poverty, job or education opportunities and it directly contributes to human suffering in low income families.

If in the elections of 2020, Belize fails to vote against corruption and crime, we will also fail in recovering stolen assets. If we vote for the PUDP and give them another 5 years to rape our country and people, we would be voting against primary health care, basic education, well built roads and adequate housing for the poor. Corruption and the PUDP benefit only the already privileged. They hurt and deprive the poor and the working class and threaten every opportunity for a better life.

Surviving under a corrupt government not only deprives our people of local economic opportunities. It stops our business people from conducting international business through legitimate international banking. It affects our tourism industry because we are burdened by travel warnings due to massive crime and political involvement in money laundering and drug trafficking.

The recovery of stolen assets can go a long way when invested in the people, especially when there will be absolutely no impunity for corrupt officials. In the last 20 years, corruption in little Belize has reached a high level of sophistication whereby state structures and projects like social security, BTL, BEL, BNE, public works, immigration, natural resources and many more were manipulated in a way to gain personal benefits for the members of government and their chosen ones; in such an organised fashion that to many it almost seems legal.

Sometimes, when things go so wrong, there must be no second chances. Wrongs must be corrected and crimes must be punished; there is no running away from destroying an entire nation because of greed. Our politicians and their assets must be investigated. They must be charged for their crimes against the state and against our people and all stolen assets must be immediately recovered and invested in the rightful owners – the Belizean people. This is the only way forward so that those who will come after us will not dare abuse the power given to them by the people.

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