A lot has been said, fingers have been pointed but does any of it make a difference? Will anything change? No. Why? Because we aren't really interested in a solution. Many feel that what is happening in the South Side is irrelevant to their lives. The district people get on the bus and go home as soon as they are finished with whatever business dragged them into the city.
Tags: Belize, Belizean, Immigrant, Naturalised Belizean
During the days leading up to the recent Elections in the Jewel, there was a grand uproar about the nationalization of immigrants by the ruling United Democratic Party. While there were some valid concerns raised; much of the criticism was politically motivated and to some degree hypocritical since in reality, the mad rush to secure votes is an established, albeit corrupt practice by both political parties. Politics and demographics aside however, I feel compelled to express my thoughts on a subject that comes close to home.
In 1990 an American doctor in California who had just delivered my daughter said to me, “Just think, in eighteen (18) years you’ll be able to apply for a US green card.” [I remember thinking to myself...I don't need no damn green card...in eighteen years I'll be home in Belize.] As it turns out, here I am in the USA twenty-one years later, just months away from finally getting that elusive card which I hear is not even green anymore. During the finger-printing process at the Immigration office, I faced a uniquely American predicament. When asked why I hadn’t marked off the Hispanic box as my race, I explained to the officer that its because I am not a Hispanic but a Mestizo. He didn’t seem amused so I opted for ‘Race Unknown’. Had he been any nicer, I would’ve pulled out my Destination Belize magazine and given him a lesson in geography…but keep them guessing is what I always say.
The truth be told, of all the labels and categories that are flying around these days, the only one I embrace whole-heartedly is ‘Belizean’. The question is, what does it mean to be a Belizean? And is there such a thing as a true Belizean? Who among us can say with certainty that he/she is a real Belizean? There are some who would argue that our country is a melting pot, somehow suggesting that everyone and everything has merged with one unique result…one unique Belizean face as it were. I tend to disagree with this concept simply because one only has to look around in Belize to see that we are in fact many different people, many different cultures. I do agree that as Belizeans, we share many common traits and customs regardless of what region we come from but by and large we remain a country where different types of people with varied influences co-exist peacefully.
While recently this peaceful co-existence has been shattered by inner city crime brought on by widespread drug activity and gang conflict, Belize still remains a relatively safe ‘haven of democracy’. And those that disagree are urged to ‘check out the real situation’ in our neighboring Central American countries. An author named Regina Brett once wrote,”If we all threw our problems in a pile and we saw everyone else’s problems…we’d gladly grab ours back.” Having said that, it is this very situation in our neighboring countries which adds another dimension to our otherwise ‘peaceful Belizean co-existence’.
Immigration, whether legal or illegal, has existed since the beginning of time and forms part of the fabric of any society. Some countries build fences, some countries stiffen laws while others simply patrol their borders with guns in an effort to keep people out. Judging by the fact that there are over 12,000,000 illegal aliens in the US, it is safe to say that there’s not much that can stop the flow of people across the land. If the historians are to be believed, I am the result of one such mass emigration of refugees of Mayan and Mestizo descent that occurred during the 19th Century Caste War. The town I was born in is in fact the site of an important battle that occurred during this very war when an Icaiche Mayan leader named Marcus Canul invaded what was then British Honduras.
So what does that make me…a Mayan…a Mestizo…a Refugee…an Immigrant…an Alien…a Spanish…a ‘Paisa’…or perhaps a ‘Panya’?
Please…I AM BELIZE!
I am a Belizean, born and bred. I may look like a Mestizo…I may have a Spanish name…I may eat a Mayan dish made of corn wrapped in a plantain leaf but I am as Belizean as the logwood cutter on the Sub Umbra Floreo. I am as Belizean as George Cadle Price. I am as Belizean as Andy Palacio…or Julian Cho…or Phillip Goldson. My grandfather on my dad’s side told us stories of his days working on the railroad system in Gallon Jug. He also worked on the tugboats pulling logs down the New River. As children we went to bed listening to him telling Bra Anancy and Bra Tiger stories. My grandfather on my my mom’s side helped build what is now the BSI factory from the ground up when it was called Tate & Lyle. He told us stories of his days as a free-wheeling marimba player in Benque Viejo del Carmen. He also had many stories to tell about his days spent in the jungle as a chicle cutter. I also have roots out West so my Belizean experience runs the gamut of everything Belizean. My mother was born in Cayo and grew up in Middlesex down in the deep South while my grandfather toiled on the orange groves and yes…Mom can bubble up some serious Sere and Creole Bread on our back-yard ‘Fya Haat’ using nothing but a cut-off drum and a pair of ‘Kiss-Kiss’. So can I safely claim my Belizean birthright?
You better bet your plate of rice n beans that I can…
There’s no one group of people that can claim to be more Belizean than another group of people. Its all a matter of Historical Demographics. The Europeans didn’t discover this new world. They stumbled on a land inhabited by intelligent people living in harmony with the land. These would be the native people, my ancestors. These so-called ‘Conquistadores‘ destroyed the land and its people then went to Africa for more manpower. Need I remind everyone what happened next? We are all descendants in some shape or form of those people that suffered at the hands of the European oppressors. The Kriol language we speak is basically the language of the slaves as they tried to emulate the masters. Ironically, that language has become the single most recognizable characteristic of any Belizean. It is something we should embrace and celebrate…it is what makes us unique and different from any other group of people in the entire world. So don’t question my Belizean-ness please…I am a Jewelizean to da bone with a serious case of Reggae-mylitis…
Ah Vibes Alive seh suh!! Vex if unu wah Vex…me nuh business
Leadership is the ability to guide, energize or direct an organization, movement or country towards the accomplishment of a common goal. Leaders shape the destiny of that organization, movement or country and many times the organization, movement or country is defined by such leadership. Leaders are the force that determines the success of their organizations, movements and countries. The study of leaders and leadership qualities is vast and expands centuries.
Tags: Amandala, Belize, Football Federation of Belize, Orange Walk
Upon hearing news of the recent changes in the FFB Executive, I couldn’t help but feel a little vindicated. Those of us that love the sport of football have always known that our country was stuck in a rut. A rut largely created by the amateurism of our football authorities and their utter disregard of regional and international standards of development. Now that change has finally come, it is my fervent hope that our sport can be elevated to the level it belongs.
Below is an article I submitted to Amandala over a year ago after our boys had returned from Panama. Prior to that I had also submitted a piece during our hapless participation in the World Cup qualifiers in 2004. Both articles called for Chimilio’s removal as head of the FFB and so it is in this light that I re-post them…for reference to those interested in our football.
Posted: 24/01/2011 – 09:06 PM
Author: Omar Ayuso
Subject: Football Federation of Belize
Date: Wednesday, January 19, 2011
People of Belize,
If there ever was a time for a shakedown of the controversial Football Federation of Belize [FFB] it is now. In light of our National ‘A’ Team’s valiant but disappointing performance at the Central American UNCAF tournament in Panama, I demand immediate and decisive action from those in power to ensure that Belize’s humiliation on the international football stage stops.
Dr. Bertie Chimilio: Do the right thing and step down. For too long you have wreaked havoc on the national sport of our country, demonstrating poor judgment and little regard for our pride and patrimony. Your unilateral decision to play a home and away game using Guatemala as a home country remains one of the worst decisions ever made by any high ranking Belizean authority. Your arrogance and maniacal thirst for power coupled with your lack of transparency overshadows anything positive that may have been achieved by the FFB under your tenure. Contrary to popular belief, every proud Belizean is a stakeholder in the sport which you so recklessly mismanage, and as such we all have a right to demand your immediate removal as President of the FFB. Just as stakeholders in a corporation can remove a CEO that has failed to achieve corporate goals, we demand your immediate removal for failing to improve our FIFA standing…straight like that!
Mr. Minister of Sports: The FFB will have you believe that political intervention in their affairs will result in sanctions and possible expulsion from FIFA, and unfortunately, they are right. However, expulsion isn’t the end of the world, and it may actually be a good thing for our football at this stage. Given the horrendous performance of Chimilio and his lackeys, it behooves us as a country to choose the lesser of two evils, so long as it results in the removal of an inefficient group of people whose only crowning achievement has been to drag our national pride in international mud. I can name numerous countries that have had to re-apply for FIFA membership for reasons far worse than political intervention, including Cameroon, Guatemala and even South American powerhouse Chile. So, Mr. Minister of Sports, show some ‘testicular fortitude’ and dissolve the FFB, send Chimilio and his cohorts packing, and conduct fair elections to form a new executive whose first mandate would be a public audit of the federation’s financial realities. Mr. Minister, Bob Marley once sang, “Rise, oh fallen fighter, rise and take your stand again… only he who fights and runs away, lives to fight another day.” In two (2) years we can re-apply to FIFA and come out blazing at the next UNCAF tournament. Simple!
People of Belize: Actions speak louder than words, and there is no better time for action than now. There are names like Enrique ‘Wico’ Carballo, Elvis ‘Cricket’ Crawford, Orvin ‘Stud’ Hendricks, Ricky Gongora, Cristobal Mayen, Juvencio ‘Bud’ August, to name a few, that will forever live in our collective memories because of their heroics on the football pitch. It goes without saying that had these national football heroes lived in any other country, there would be stadiums and streets named after them. I am sick and tired of listening to these foreign media people talking condescendingly about my country and our “poor technical skills and lack of football talent”. Having come of age with players like Norman ‘Tilliman’ Nunez, Charlie Slusher, David ‘Manu’ McCaulay, Christopher and Oliver Hendricks, Freddie, Marcelino and Donnie Tun, Raul Celiz, among others, I daresay there is no lack of talent in our country. What is obviously lacking are true leaders with vision who can steer our football in the right direction, harnessing young talent and fostering the timely development of players through the amateur stages of their careers, leading up to their introduction into the professional arena. Are we going to allow another batch of Belizean players to fade away and languish in obscurity like their predecessors?
It will take a concerted effort between the public and private sectors if our football is to emerge from the throes of pathetic amateurism in which it finds itself today. The international goals scored by our boys in Panama should be a source of pride for every true Belizean, and they should serve as a reminder that with proper training and conditioning, we are capable of greatness. It is time our leaders recognize the importance of sports as a natural resource and not simply as a pastime. And NO…a hastily arranged marathon to further your election bid won’t cut it anymore, Mr. Politician! We need infrastructure, training facilities, technical assistance, FIFA approved venues, marketing and cold, hard cash… yes, Mr. Politician… the same kind that is being dished out to secure votes at the spectacular conventions these days.
Finally… having attended Belize’s World Cup qualifying match against CONCACAF powerhouse Mexico at Reliant Stadium in Houston, I can’t remember seeing any PUP or UDP flags waving… all I saw were Belizean flags… all I heard was Belize! Belize! Belize! For one fleeting moment in 2008, Belizeans the world over were united as one people, united behind a group of young Belizean kids who had become true ambassadors of our little country. When is the last time any political ambassador from Belize achieved such a feat? Food for thought, people!
Sincerely, Omar Ayuso
Proud Citizen of the City of Orange Walk
“The only time a politician is telling the truth is when he’s calling another politician a liar.” (Yahoo Top Line Blog)
So the dust is finally settling in the Jewel after the victory parades and post-election rallies celebrated across the country. Word reaching us out here ‘da foreign’ is that for a couple days you couldn’t tell which political party had won because both were parading until the wee hours of the morning. Now that reality has sunk in it has become apparent that the Belizean voter has had the last laugh after all. What had been projected as a landslide victory by the party pundits on either side turned out to be a hotly contested race that went right down to the wire. In a result reminiscent of the Bush-Gore elections on this side of the border when Bush inherited the White House even though the majority of US voters had voted for Gore; the United Democratic Party was ushered into a second term of office although almost 50% of the Belizean people voted for the other side.
The history books will abound with reasons for the PUP defeat and the supposed effect that Mark Espat and Cordel Hyde’s political defection had on the election results but at the end of the day; the UDP has won and me thinks its now time for less talk and more action. Tell that to the PUP, however, who are reportedly contemplating legal action against the UDP for purported violations and election fraud. Whether their arguments have legal grounds or whether its just a case of sour grapes remains to be seen. For sure the Jewel remains divided almost exactly in half along the traditional party lines. Deja Vu if you ask me…
My grandfather used to say, “thief thief thief”…
Given the predictability of Belizean culture, is it fair to assume that had the UDP lost by as narrow a margin as the PUP did; it would be them raising hell about corruption and election fraud? And was it right for them to deny the PUP an opportunity to contest the results? Would the PUP have done the same were the tables turned? From where I’m standing, I think the PUP lost their own elections because the blue machinery didn’t do their homework and the UDP are in power ‘by the red hair of their ‘chinny chin chin.’ In the words of one of my brothers, its a classic case of ‘Cuda mi, Shuda mi, Wuda mi‘. Personally, I rather like the idea of an evenly divided house rather than one where a single party dominates and has free rein to run our laws and our constitution into the ground. Now all the Jewel needs is for our lawmakers to start behaving like adult elected officials on Fridays during cabinet meetings rather than like college fraternity brats in a bar. Nothing riles me up more than watching our so-called leaders engage in a mockery of the House of Representatives while party puppets cheer them on in the galleries upstairs.
Like I always say people…the world is watching.
Ah Vibes Alive seh suh…
Our country is polarized by politics so much so that in the past 30 years of our short independent history, representatives from both political parties have rarely, if ever, united amenably for the betterment of our country as a whole. Instead, they eradicate or undermine policies set in place by the previous administration, essentially starting policy making from scratch. This, I believe, is one of the major reasons why our country has found such difficulty in making large economic, social and cultural strides towards a better Belize.
Tags: Belize, Orange Walk, Politics
“Democracy is the only system that persists in asking the powers that be whether they are the powers that ought to be.” Sydney J. Harris
All indications are, Election 2012 in the Jewel will be hotly contested and perhaps result in mixed representation at the highest levels of government. Judging from news clips reaching us abroad, there’s probably no blue or red cloth material left on the store shelves anywhere in the country. Tomorrow all the political posturing, fiery speeches, accusations, promises and revelations will be a thing of the past. Tomorrow the issues facing our country will all be forgotten and the red and blue lines dividing the Jewel will be reinforced.
For one day, the Belizean citizen is truly ‘the power that ought to be’.
It is my hope that the election process be conducted in a fair manner in accordance with our constitution. The world is watching people…we have been issued a failing grade by the powers that be in the first world. Lets elect men and women that will devote their lives to the Jewel and do everything in their power to reverse the downward spiral. Our livelihood literally depends on the decisions made by the people we put in power. We are living in a world where blind faith in government…any government, can sometimes lead to certain destruction.
“Rise ye mighty people…there’s work to be done so lets do it a little by little.” (Bob Marley)
Tags: Belize, D Jewel Soundz, DJ Dro, entertainment
DJ DRO – The driving force behind the newest entertainment entity in the MetroPlex called D Jewel Soundz. Born Elton Isaguirre and raised in Orange Walk Town, Belize, it was only natural that when DJ Dro went looking for a name for his music business he would choose something that reflected his beloved homeland. Ask anybody from Belize where the Jewel is and they’ll say “Home”. There are several sides to DJ Dro that only those close to him get to know. He’s an IT specialist of sorts and can literally design and build a website from scratch in minutes. He’s also a prolific football (soccer) player and can blow past the opposing defense with blazing speed and skill. But music is where his heart really is, having been exposed at an early age to life as the son of a singer in a local band in Orange Walk. In fact, when we first met it was at an event where DJ Dro was on stage as a singer along with his two (2) brothers in a band they called D Romantic Sounds.
Nobody’s sure when and how the transition from performer to Dee Jay occurred but needless to say, Dro took to the turntables like fish in a fishpond. In only a couple years he has gone from being an amateur DJ playing for friends and family and has become a premier DJ on the local entertainment circuit. He has made numerous appearances on the stages of well-known Caribbean clubs in the DFW area, culminating with a recent guest appearance on WNON FM 89.3 hosted by well-known Jamaican MC Steady Rankin’. DJ Dro also co-hosts a popular Internet radio show based in New York City known as A1 Radio, where he rules the Monday night slot. Always the entertainer, he has also promoted two (2) very successful events on the local scene featuring big name Belizean personalities from Chicago and New York as well as a popular Belizean singer from Los Angeles.
So the kid from the Slaughter House area in Orange Walk Town has come a long way for sure. But something in his intense stare says that the DJ Dro show has only just began and that D Jewel Soundz is here to stay.
Let the wheels of steel keep on spinning…
Tags: Belize, Belizean, Orange Walk, PNP, PUP, UDP
“Fundamental theory of modern politics: “A President inherits a good economy and takes credit for it…but if he inherits a lousy economy he’ll soon get blamed for it.” (excerpt courtesy Time Magazine, June 2011)”
Amidst the political mayhem that has engulfed the Jewel; I cant help being a little sarcastic and even somewhat pessimistic about our future as an independent nation. And while it is true that there are certain aspects of politics that transcend borders and even oceans, I must admit that our politics is uniquely Belizean in many ways. We’ve come a long way from the old days when Don Polo Briceno used to ride his old Hero bicycle down Main Street in Orange Walk practicing old-fashioned politics, namely; shaking hands with every Tom, Dick or Harry he met and securing valuable votes in the process. How about the Leader Emeritus in his old Land Rover plowing through the mud in August Pine Ridge every September to honor villagers with his simple presence? And who can forget Don Florencio “Lencho Pistolas” Marin leading a mob of supporters, some reportedly armed with machetes and 16 gauge shotguns, down 5th Ave in Corozal during the Heads of Agreement riots.
Today, in this Internet era of Globalization where the world is just a point and click away, we are witnessing the transformation and modernization of Belizean politics. Our candidates now have a Facebook profile and engage in nationally televised debates with professionally produced political advertisements and announcements. But alas, the more things change, the more they remain the same. If there’s one fixture of our political game that has remained firmly in place it is something called “The Machinery”. Elections are decided, not by the caliber of our candidates or the strength-of-character of our standard bearers, but by how well-oiled their machinery was during the months leading up to the big day. For the novices among us, the machinery is that group of people behind the scenes that plan, plot, scheme and otherwise come up with creative ways to put their candidate’s best face forward while engaging in the traditional smear campaigns that have become synonymous with Belizean politics as we know it.
Surely we don’t think the recent events surrounding a candidate’s removal as standard bearer because of her dual citizenship was just a chance occurrence right? Somewhere in a back room of the opposing party, members of the machinery are patting themselves on the back for a job well done. Digging up dirt, tapping phone lines, unearthing skeletons in closets and slinging mud at the opposing side are just some of the duties of machinery operatives. Sadly, a significant portion of the Belizean electorate feed on this negativity and actually allow the filth to influence their decision at the polls. Unscrupulous politicians aspiring for votes place the blame for all the country’s woes squarely on the incumbent party and supporters jump on the bandwagon. Financiers distribute money to party hacks who make it trickle to party loyalists who pound the pavement in the days leading up to the big day, mobilizing fanatics while making wild promises on behalf of the representative…and the oiling process continues.
When will this madness stop? Shouldn’t Elections be about deciding who is better equipped to run the affairs of our country and by virtue of our vote, giving a group of individuals a mandate to govern in the interest of every single Belizean? When did our Election process become a marketplace where votes are for sale to the party with the deeper pocket? Until this culture of corruption is reversed…until this tradition of voting along party lines is discontinued…until Belizeans start demanding accountability from elected leaders rather than a quick fix for personal gain…until we start thinking independently and informing ourselves of the issues facing our country…we will forever be mired in this divisive and destructive battle of Red and Blue which only serves to hinder our progress as an independent nation.
I applaud my peers and close friends that have bravely launched their political careers and in the process put their personal lives in the limelight. My heart warms at the sight of such a young slate on either side of the political spectrum and in a perfect Utopian world, I would vote them all into office because I am sure they all have Orange Walk in their hearts. To Kevin and Ivan I say…he who fights and walks away, lives to fight another day. If you truly have Orange Walk in your heart, then a defeat at the polls should not deter you. To Slush, Mennonite, Teddy P, Ian, Bull, Neri, Joe Jr, Josue, and Roze I say…you have my utmost respect for offering yourselves as public servants of the people and I urge you all to keep fighting the good fight. Remember, “Victory belongs not to the quickest, but to he that perseveres.”
In the words of Breda David, “To whom much is given, much is expected.” I therefore call on the leaders at the highest levels of government to put personal agendas aside and think…
Think “By the people, for the people.”
Think “The welfare of the people is the supreme law.”
This is not about PUP or UDP or PNP…this is about Belize, our Jewel. Do not mislead or misinform our people who have entrusted you with the reins of our country and in essence, placed the future of our children in your hands. Our country is in dire straits and indebted to the tune of Billions of US dollars. Our society and sense of community has been shattered by crime and poverty. Unemployment rates have skyrocketed and the cost of living is unbearable. These are the issues we should be talking about, not petty matters that have nothing to do with nothing. What does the personal life of a candidate have to do with his/her ability to govern?
If I wanted a perfect individual to govern my country, then my vote goes to Jesus Christ. Otherwise, I’ll settle for any God-fearing Belizean that will work tirelessly for the betterment of our people.
Get up Stand up Belize…ah Vibes Alive seh suh
Tags: Belizean, PUP, UDP
There may have been a time in our short history when people differed on issues directly affecting our country. Issues facing the early Trade Unions, Adult Suffrage, the Heads of Agreement and even our very Independence were topics that either divided or united our people at one point. It seems to me however, that nowadays our people have forgotten the issues and are pitted against each other simply because of color. This division along party lines is destroying our communities and fostering an environment of hatred and conflict which, if left unchecked, threatens to turn our tiny nation into another Jamaica where every election leaves a bloody toll on the streets. What is with this Red and Blue rhetoric anyway? After all, aren’t conditions like Poverty, Crime, Corruption and Unemployment colorblind?
I once spoke politics with an elder lady in Palmar Village who admitted having never even considered voting Blue because as a child she was taught that her flag was Red, as in ‘Union Jack’ Red. It is this mentality that our so-called leaders tend to exploit to its fullest when making their rounds through our community. That age-old mantra of “my grandpa vote PUP, my pa vote PUP, I vote PUP and my pickney weh vote PUP” has decided many an election. Sadly, if as a country we don’t move away from this partisan approach then we are doomed.
Someone once defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again but expecting a different result every time. Does that make us all insane? Are we in a vicious cycle that Said Musa once described in a speech as “a slippery downhill slope.” Each election yields the same result, where an administration inherits Independence Hill and immediately embarks on a witch hunt of sorts. People lose their jobs, their lands and their privileges simply because these were granted by the previous administration. People who voted in the new administration swarm the offices of their representatives for handouts and those on the other side hunker down for five (5) years of hardship. The new administration, comprised of the same old faces, then spend the next two (2) years either knocking down, reversing or canceling everything built or enacted by the previous ‘bad guys’. They then devote the next two years trying to govern, more often than not adopting short -term measures designed to make party faithful happy. The final year of their five (5) year term is then spent trying to get re-elected. Is it any wonder then why we are in this mess?
Stand up comedian Chris Rock once said, “Anyone that makes up their mind before they even hear an issue is a fool.” There are people among us that will vote for party come hell or high water. Sadly, for these people party comes before country or in other words, they are PUP or UDP first…then they are Belizean. May I suggest that we remove our red or blue blinders for once and drape ourselves with our national flag instead. There are decisions being made on Independence Hill that affect our lives and the future of our children. There are decisions being made on our behalf that have nothing to do with the betterment of our country and everything to do with the lining of a select few pockets. In the words of Ms Aria Lightfoot, “[..] corruption is as corruption does people”. If a politician is willing to bribe you for your vote, what can we expect of him when he’s handling our tax money? And if we encourage them by accepting their bribe, whether it be a land, a load of white marl, a bag of groceries or a simple $20 bill…aren’t we just as corrupt as them?
The problems facing our nation aren’t particular to any one group of people. They affect every BELIZEAN! So lets ask the best group of qualified Belizeans to help us solve these problems. It shouldn’t matter if they subscribe to different political ideologies…lets just move forward.
Get up stand up Belizeans…get the sense
Ah Vibes Alive seh suh…