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January 11
11:47 2019

By Neferetary Marin

Belize is not the only country with an organized crime problem. But it is the only home we have and we should be highly concerned about the safety of our people and the future of our children.

Celebrity lifestyles, living on the edge with drugs and travels and name brand clothing that we copied from American Pop culture makes this rich lifestyle very attractive to a few. Mobster movies like Scarface make the criminal elements in governance very trendy, very exciting, entertaining and even romantic.

In these types of movies and TV shows, criminal networks are powerful enough to threaten the government. This is dangerous in countries like the USA, Italy, Jamaica and others. When we take a quick survey of these criminal networks and their activities in the Government of Belize, however, it becomes all too real for the people affected directly and indirectly.

It is also very alarming that these elements do not threaten our leaders. They are our leaders. They do not threaten our Government. They control our Government.

Corruption is an infectious disease. It has much the same effect on the development of our nation that cancer has on the body of a person and its reach to various organs is very much the same. Large-scale corruption is supported by power networks like GOB, local gangs and Central American cartels.

I have previously written about the corruption in Government and various criminal elements. Those writings have since been supported by two individuals. Mrs Dianne Finnegan gave us a detailed account of her relationship with gang leaders. Now, I was not surprised with her revelations as that is common knowledge. I was, however, very surprised that she freely disclosed such sensitive information and threw her party under the bus. The second person to back up my writings, in much more detail, is Mr. Edward Vincent Martinez. Mr. Martinez has effectively put a price on his own head.

There is no need for me to keep repeating the level of corruption in our Government and the dangerous underground networks at play…but, we should look at possible solutions to Belize’s dilemma.

There is no magic weapon for fighting corruption. We cannot pray for a political messiah to come save us. This fight must be fought by all Belizeans and we must be united and proactive in all our efforts.
While many countries have made significant progress in curbing corruption, each country is different, and our efforts must be unique.

Here are six ways that Belizean citizens can fight corruption and take back our jewel:
The first is a personal decision to revolt against the status-quo. Meaning to forget about traditional party allegiances and join a new progressive movement that is people-oriented. Not just joining, but being willing to put an X on your ballot for a new political party. This first step is the most important in breaking corruption, because if this does not happen the others can never happen.

The second is to end impunity. An effective and politically independent law enforcement apparatus is essential to ensure the corrupt are punished, to break the cycle of impunity, and to finally see the corrupt in handcuffs and behind bars.

The third is to reform our financial and natural resource management by improving financial management and activating strong independent auditing agencies contracted by the people to audit the Government.

The fourth is that we must consult with our people often and promote full transparency while making information readily available to citizens, in easily readable language where we encourage full public participation in our country’s political life.

The fifth is that we must empower citizens not just to participate but to become free thinkers with a bias for positive, progressive national action. In this way we also encourage equal gender participation in politics. In strengthening numbers 3 and number 4 we will achieve effective community monitoring which will in turn assist greatly in the early detection of corruption. This will also help us to reduce leakages of funds and improve the quantity and quality of public services and infrastructural developments.

The sixth is that we must enact stricter laws to force elected officials to disclose all their assets along with their spouses’ and children’s; at the time they are elected and when they leave office or are re-elected. This will lessen the looting of public assets and help us to better monitor the absorbing of illicit flows of money in our banks or offshore accounts.

Belize is a country still developing and with a lot of potential for positive growth. Our people are highly intelligent and innovative. They are resilient but still awakening to the facts that the political parties they swore allegiance to, have no allegiance to them personally or to our nation. Our people still need to realize that they have been putting their trust and their future in the hands of people that are not able to live up to the word “honourable” and in this regard, will never place the interest of the populace as a priority.

There comes a time in life when patriotism must be rated higher than partisanship, when we put our potential for success on the balance scale with the opportunities our leaders provide, and if not balanced – then we have been wronged. We must unite to right those wrongs before it is too late.

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