Tuesday, October 28, 2008



By Ray Auxillou, Oct. 26, 2008

The Reporter Newspaper had an article on the Toledo District wherein Cabinet Minister Eden Martinez gave his opinions on Tilapia production and food trade with the ALBA Venezuelan Trade Organization in the Toledo District, accompanied by His Excellency the Bolivarian Ambassador of the Republic of Venezuela to Belize, His Excellency, Omar Valdeviezo. The meeting was held in the coastal Toledo District capital of Punta Gorda, population about 5000 people.

The article quoted the Venezuelan Ambassador as saying; ALBA the Bolivarian Venezuelan inter-American trade organization would like to trade Belizean oranges, sea food and other food commodities of Belize, for oil. We currently get oil, gasoline and diesel in Belize from Venezuela, on a down payment, with deferred payments at low interest costs over many years, for the balance. Theoretically we pay something for oil products from Venezuela, but our government economy is actually supported in large part by Venezuela and Taiwanese grants of foreign aid. Whatever we pay for oil, comes eventually from Venezuelan grants in a roundabout way. We rob Peter to pay Paul.

The Honorable Ambassador, His Excellency, Omar Valdeviezo clarified the ALBA Trade Organization being promoted by Venezuela, in his talk in Punta Gorda town. From what I could understand of the Reporter newspaper article and quotes of His Excellency; ALBA TRADE is a BARTER system of trade and not as he is quoted, a DOLLAR VALUE for DOLLAR VALUE system of the capitalist world.

There has been some debate about the ALBA Trade Organization here in Belize, but little is known about it here. There are no details. Nobody in government has a copy of the ALBA TRADE ORGANIZATION membership contract. We were surprised earlier this year, when the Honduras President declined to receive and recognize some Ambassador ( I believe it might have been the USA? ) on the basis of one of the clauses in the joining of the ALBA TRADE Organization, which required membership to include political unity in foreign affairs dealings. Since this would, if true; conflict with CARICOM Belizean foreign affairs contracts, the matter was dropped in the public eye. The local centralized port town media never followed through with investigative reporting, for expanding productive capacity and exports of Belize with ALBA. Our port town media concentration, were notoriously derelict in chasing our economic trade improvements as newsworthy subject matter. Which is one of the reasons we have started our International readership electronic newspaper on the internet, WESTERN BELIZE HAPPENINGS! http://westernbelizehappenings.blogspot.com In Western Belize, the home of most economic production in Belize, we need our voice to be heard.

In the HEARTLAND of BELIZE, farmers, producers and processors are interested in the ALBA TRADE organization; particularly as a MARKET for food products of Belize. What nobody in the Cayo District can figure out, is how to do the TRADE with ALBA? How does one freight perishable food to Caracas? How do you pay for internal shipping and container costs, by whichever freight or airline? How would a farmer, or processor get paid?

A preliminary exploratory step was taken some three months ago, with the first step of establishing a CARICOM AIRLINE out of Belize, with one small initial twin engine freight and passenger plane, which could experiment and explore the commercial trade possibilities with Venezuela. A letter of interest and participation was sent to the Venezuelan Government through His Excellency, the Venezuelan Ambassador and also to the UDP Cabinet of Belize. No acknowledgment of receipt of the queries was received, nor any replies from either the Venezuelan Embassy, or the UDP Cabinet. The airplane was subsequently sold to somebody else. We could however order one from the factory where they build them. Some sort of direct transportation is necessary and the key to any trade with Venezuela. We guessed that the non-interest on the part of Venezuela was; they wanted to deal with our government and not the private sector? Our government did not show interest, because in our political party get personally rich governing system, without a bribe, or piece of the action, Cabinet Members of the UDP likewise were not interested, that was our guess?

Trade with Venezuela is desirable. Costs of freight and other internal costs of transportation are a problem on a BARTER system, based on a government to government basis. Our government does not have the capacity to govern properly, because of the HUGE National Debt. We are in our seventh year of either a BELIZEAN RECESSION, or economic DEPRESSION; depending on your viewpoint. The previous PUP created economic downturn is expected to continue for at least another seven years. Asking our government to establish a TRADE system on the BARTER model with Venezuela is obviously an impossibility. We do not have the capability in bureaucrats to do this, nor the cash flows in our government. Our system of government bureaucracy is heavily party hack infested, which means nine to five work attitudes. This means we do not get good value for the dollar in commercial efficiencies.

Since Venezuela is a socialist country, based on controlling, or owning the means of production and Belize operates as a capitalist free enterprise system, with the government operating as a predator through taxation of private enterprise. Any trade, or barter system in food production from Belize and export to Venezuela runs into the problem of how private enterprise producers get paid and when? The private sector has the capacity to organize the barter trade, but the costs and money factors are difficult to resolve. Nobody in his right mind in Belize would trust the Belize Government to pay them on time, or even eventually, and nothing can work without the lubricant of cash. Lots to think about here for a system of BARTER trade with ALBA under their proposed trade system. It is a market that has Belizean entrepreneurs in the HEARTLAND OF BELIZE salivating with desire to expand into. But how? The government to government restrictions placed by ALBA are insurmountable probably?

No comments: