Friday, May 15, 2009


Belize is a parliamentary democracy. The democracy part ends after the voting in National elections for five years. Justice is basically a flip of a coin, 50 - 50. If you can pay for justice, you get off.
The Supreme Court is considered entertainment like a Soap Opera in the port town.
Supreme Court Building in the port town. It is not located in the capital of the country.


This is an opinion piece, delivered from living through the past 50 years. Belize has gone from a British Colony to an independent country, courtesy of the United Nations unanimous vote, with one abstentation by our neighbor Guatemala back at Independence in 1982.

How have we done? The masses of the population are learning how politics works. What has evolved so far, are two dominant parties with national ability to contest elections. There are a number of independent candidates, but so far none have won any seats in the parliament during national elections.

Since the UDP party has come back into power, the number of elected representatives believed to be criminals in the winning party is roughly 20%. During the last PUP two terms of office, the number of criminals that were elected representatives ran about 25%. The number of elected representatives have increased due to population growth and political skullduggery of unequal voting divisions of the port town people, ensuring the port town of Belize City retain control of the central government.

Some government departments are still not doing so good after fifty years, despite changes in political party control. Currently it takes One Year to qualify for permanent residency for an immigrant, but 2 ½ years for bureaucratic red tape processing, making Permanent Residency for foreign immigrant investors a very slow process of 3 ½ years. The citizenship process takes 5 years to qualify for citizenship of permanent living in Belize ( except if you are a billionaire and can pay a big bribe to the Cabinet Minister of Immigration for a more speedy processing ) After you qualify for citizenship, it takes 3 ½ years to do the red tape bureaucratic processing to get your citizenship, which means a total time of 8 ½ years to an applicant. Many things are not capable of being achieved in land development, without citizenship for immigrant developers.

These opinions are derived mostly from either first hand experience, or reading of the flow of investigative reporting from the weekly newspapers.

This past week, a NEW alarming trend has occurred in land title security. The land system has been one based on first acquiring a Lease Certificate, which in Colonial days was for 99 years, but sometime during Independence changed to 30 years. The process then required a survey and payment of money to apply for a change of a Lease Certificate to a CLEAR TITLE. In effect, between a Lease Certificate and a TITLE certificate, you paid for the land twice to the government. Last week articles in the newspapers were blaring the fact, that a local family with a LEASE CERTIFICATE , with home and possessions had her lease certificate CANCELED by the Cabinet Minister of Lands and was evicted and now homeless, after living on it and developing it for 13 years. The story was garbled, but essentially what we got was that a political switch went on, and the leased home was taken from the lease holder and sold to somebody else more politically correct and aligned, as a new lease certificate. This has rung alarm bells under this UDP government, both in the banks and among the populace, a lot of which hold a 30 year lease certificate type of possession. This has also created a storm in International investment circles as the stability of land tenure, sanctity of leases as security for bank loans and other usage change is no longer valid. In post colonial law of Belize, the Cabinet Minister of Lands has ‘discretion’. The translation means it is legal and there is factually no LAW in Belize to do with Land ownership security. Which is not only causing foreign investors to balk, but creating consternation and worry among the local populace, many of whom live on Lease Certificate type lands. Not being able to pay the purchase price twice in the current system of evaluation to go through to a clear TITLE.

Forestry department was budget emasculated back about three decades ago and has been an empty shell since then. Though the department exists and is used mostly for bribery revenues by elected representatives appointed by the incumbent party leader as Minister of Forestry, who controls the permit and license process for forest products and land usage, according to investigative reporting in the newspapers. The permit and license process is utilized in the Cabinet government system, to solicit self enrichment bribes, ( using a Cabinet Minister’s driver as a criminal cut out go between ) or to steal new viable businesses after the initial period of risk taking capital experimentation proves them successful.

The last PUP government experimented with debt financing and ran the national debt ratio up to 127 % of GDP. They were re-elected to a second term to settle due debts crippling the country and went on a five year austerity program which reduced the national debt to 72% of GDP. The new UDP Government has gone on a new BORROW and SPEND experiment and so far as is known, the debt ratio has risen from 72% of GDP, to 78% of GDP in the second year of their 5 year UDP term. The ideal is less than 3% of GDP for a well run government. The UDP government now in power has frozen financial monthly reporting and the public is left guessing, because of secrecy. There is no financial transparency, or accountability anymore. These are just election buzzwords, which are hot air and plain political party lies.

There were some scandals in the last PUP administration due to LOAN grants from both Taiwan and Venezuela to help Belize with problems. The new UDP government controlled by two lawyers in the Cabinet and some port city wild card area representatives, have spent a bit over a year with endless political vendettas and court cases. Nobody is sure why, instead of governing efficiently? The previous Prime Minister of the PUP used some of the grants to correct some of his borrowing mistakes by using foreign GRANTS, to clear the debts before the end of his term. The new UDP government is prosecuting him for malfeance and it is looking to be a political shell game. Unless they send the previous Prime Minister to jail for twenty years, the whole charade seems to be smoke and mirrors. Failure to send him to jail is going to increase the money, the arguments are about, to double or triple what was originally owed under the PUP. The actual extra debt cost being run up, will probably double the PUP original debt under this UDP. The whole legal exercise means NOTHING, unless they can put the previous Prime Minister in jail. The debts continue to increase exponentially. The whole political party legal show seems to be an orchestrated SOAP OPERA to hide the failures of administration. There seems no financial sense to what is going on.

In the meantime, the bank that was paid off with Foreign Grants for loaning money to the previous PUP government, is being forced to give back the money to this UDP government. Articles in the newspapers indicate that this money, or part of it, is being dished out under the disguise of poverty housing, but newspaper allegations are; that in reality it is being awarded to UDP area representatives, bureaucrats, middle class party hacks and supporters in $60,000 GRANTS each. And POOF, so will disappear $18 million dollars or so of foreign GRANT MONEY, into the greedy clutching hands of a new political party in power. The rhetoric is for poverty alleviation, but seems worthless propoganda? The previous debts in the situation are now being re-started by the bank and the interest cost is running. Expected to double the old PUP debt mistakes by the end of term, of this UDP government. The government following this one, will end up taxing the masses to pay for the alleged corruption, according to newspaper articles.

The PUP debt exacerbated by the new debts of the UDP, are expected to continue out for 20 more years. As time progresses and these interest payments are wasted and not available for development, the DEBT PRINCIPAL continues to remain and not be reduced. The National Debts are now projected out for 30 years under UDP management, instead of 20 years.

The lesson from this, for FOREIGN AID donors to Belize, is NOT TO GIVE ANY MONEY to our government directly. Funnel your donations and GRANTS through NGO’s, or establish your own AID programs in Belize. Neither the PUP, or the UDP governments are to be trusted with money coming as FREE GRANTS. Without outside supervision and control, the money will be filched. Corruption is rife in the system of government we use in Belize, which is the British colonial exploitation system of Empire. Some incoming GRANTS are working with the government, in the field of education and scholarships. The TAIWANESE agriculture program is an excellent method of seeing foreign GRANT money does the work it is intended for. The FAO GRANT funded habenero project went well it is reported, done through an individual buyer. The rice system run by CARDI seems a loser, as complaints from rice farmers in Toledo District say neither the quantity of rice they grow increases, despite being forced to change rice seed each year, nor does the rice price increase.

The only government department seemingly working well, is the Agriculture Department, which has seen a policy shift by this new UDP government and a lot of new jobs and expertise is being channeled into productive endeavors and export marketing. The Agriculture College has reopened and the UN FAO are giving GRANTS for education and experimentation, to increase local agriculture productivity. For the most part this is a mixed bag of Foreign GRANTS going more to individuals and NGO’s, not directly to the Government. It seems to be working?

There is a lot of activity in the legal system of courts. The public has come to the conclusion this is a CASH COW milking machine. Nothing is being accomplished, even though a lot of news, articles in newspapers and television coverage is given by lawyers who are getting RICH. There is a three tier court system and the legal milking machine, finds a case is judged at the lower levels one way, then for more money and time, going in an appeal to the second level of courts, the judgments are reversed, then in the final cycle of the money machine, another higher court then reverses sometimes, the decision again. You may find justice for a million dollars in costs, but unlikely for the general public, who cannot afford the system of lawyers and court processes. The public has given up with the court system, which seems over priced and totally corrupt. Justice is now being dealt in Belize, at the end of a gun, by hired assassins. Especially by the lower level population that cannot afford lawyers and to go through the LEGAL MILKING MONEY MACHINE. One attempt was reported to have been made to form MURDER INCORPORATED and formalize justice by force, using the police wilder element, but blew up in newspaper investigations, involving the Chinese community. There have been many successful assassinations privately done, reported in the newspapers for matters involving inheritance, vendettas and business problems. No one with any smarts and can afford it, is going to waste time on the lawyer/court three tier money making machine. As the population grows, this trend of seeking justice by gun, is expected to increase. Murder satisfaction costs are running a few thousand dollars or less, to settle what otherwise would be legal arguments.

Despite all these maturing growing pains, Belize continues to be an excellent place to live, if you live OUTSIDE the port of Belize City, in the other rural districts. The climate is great, the food easy, shelter easy and most people are nice to get along with. The population continues to be an incoming immigrant population, or people moving around the country seeking opportunity. There is a lot of population mobility. The middle class has grown in size, showing a successful result of governing, despite problems. Belize is an excellent place to RETIRE. The negative aspects of some government departments and political exploitation, effect the ordinary person, minimally. Most of the crime is to do with the money making aspects, of political elected representatives. Politics seems to be still the biggest employer and source of criminal activity in the country. Though the way it is arranged in the inherited Commonwealth British governing system, most of these activities are technically legal. This does not give much satisfaction to the victims of persecution, or when they are taken advantage of, using the political system. Most citizens of Belize try to stay small and insignificant, below the radar of government opportunism. Local investors stay small of necessity, otherwise you become a target. Belize is otherwise a pleasant rural place to live for the good family life.

The Belize National Debt size is the most worrisome thing affecting the country of Belize. This has been created by the amateurishness of our political party system. Of the many ideas to resolve the debt, holding back development of the country and government size, one idea I heard discussed the other day, was the consolidation of all foreign debts into a new set of BONDS, to be issued as replacement of bonds and current foreign debts, at an interest rate of USA Bank Prime rate, PLUS one percent. This to bring our foreign debts more in line with the industrialized world new financial system of low interest rates. We in the developing world can copy the more first world industrialized countries, in finding solutions. It is interesting to note that mortgage interest rates throughout the whole Caribbean region are now less than 10%. Signifying a readjustment of the New World Order in financial interest rate expectations. Interest rates in the G7 have shrunk remarkably. The third world though are stuck now, with what are now extra high interest rates carried over and need to re-finance, to re-adjust to the G7 norms in those countries that lead the world in financial manipulation. No third world country should be paying more than 3% on any debt these days, at a maximum. 3% interest rate today in this world financial climate is over paying actually.

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