REPORT #230 April 2000

Produced by the Belize Development Trust

It is a fact, that in 35 or more years of governing, the population based voting electoral system has failed to give a fair share of government and financing to the other districts. Notable exceptions was the growth economics investment in the village roads of the Orange Walk and Corozal Districts during the switch over from Tate & Lyle British colonial sugar operations to smaller landholder Belizean owned sugar plantations and later the development of the Banana industry down in the Big Creek area of southern Belize. This latter industry still has not shifted from large foreign investors to localized small banana plot style investment, which would do wonders for social and living improvements in the area. But in general, investment in the area for a banana industry was a wise one, despite the shortcomings.

A recent announcement of a second field trip by a group of doctors, dentists and Louisiana State University students to the remote Mayan hill villages of the Toledo Southern District leaves one once again, with a vast sense of unease and disappointment at general leadership of different governments over the past 35 years. The group are going to be located at a central encampment and from there will trek inland to about 15 small Mayan remote subsistance farming, slash and burn villages of the old traditional style.

The focus of the mission is to treat people, the most of whom have never had professional treatment. The volunteers from Louisiana are on their second such trip to the Toledo District during the dry season. They will in some cases trek in to the villages using mules to carry medical supplies. In other places they will be walking through the mud in this high rain forest (300 inches a year) and carry the supplies by backpack. The experience is very useful, both for the medical professionals and the accompanying students from LSU. Treatements will be for head lice, intestinal worms, malaria, loose teeth and lots of over the counter drugs. Tylenol, vitamins and antibiotics are normal fair. What the students get out of this experience, is a changed environment, something unlike anything they have ever known in Louisiana.

Prime Minister Said Musa upon taking office introduced a similar program with the importation from the prison slave island of the totalitarian state of Cuba, a bunch of Cuban doctors who were ordered by the Supreme Leader of Cuba to come to Belize on very short notice. Cuba has a well established successful medical training program and indeed is probably superior to what there is in the USA at a much tinier fraction of the cost. The big problem with the imported slave Cuban doctor program, is they do not really get enough medical supplies to do what they could do, if they had adequate supplies. Still, what the Prime Minister did, is a huge increase in medical service to the rural parts of the nation of Belize.

The field trip by professional doctors and dentists and University students is expected to be beneficial to the people of the Toledo District, perhaps also to any Cuban doctors and Belizean nurses in that remote area and to the students and professionals themselves. It is a win-win situation. The only fly in the ointment might be political jealousy, Health Department jealousy, that will throw roadblocks in the way of this expedition, now that it is public knowledge and no longer low key, invisible. Such good things have been stopped by the jealousy of politicians and department heads back in the capital of Belmopan and the port of Belize City before. We shall see what will happen, now that the expedition is public knowledge.

On the other hand, what we do get out of this, is that in 35 years of development and leadership by two political parties, dominated by a handful of intellectuals from just one town of about eleven towns in Belize and 288 to 300 villages; is that services of the national government have still never been able to adequately be given to remote villages, equal and on a par with, the port of Belize City. These expeditions and the Cuban doctor thingy just point out the inadequacies of the current system of population representative government.

The system of African colonial plantation style autocratic despotic government using a population derived colonial method of "divide and conquer" style political voting method of control of the national government; has always given just one town, the port of Belize City the control of the nation of Belize. Townies as we call them, think in terms of towns. They also know where the votes are, which is the port town of Belize City, because of the population representation system. In 35 years, the townies have never been able, or even seem to be concerned with giving the villages of the nation, particularly the remote ones, the same services they enjoy in the port of Belize City. The votes of course is what control the spending of the national revenues in this system. Belize city has the votes under the system, so this one town gets the lion's share of national revenues.

The population based voting electoral system is a failure. It has known to be a failure for the last 20 years. But that is were the city folks get their bread buttered and they do not want to change it. But for the good of Belize the nation and for building a nation. The voting system has to be changed. The national government needs to be geographical representation by six districts. The districts also should automatically get local district governments and districts get 36% of national revenues divided among them on an equal basis. The rest to be divided up, by a new type of legislature composed of equal amounts of district representatives in some kind of formula according to need and geography.

The current system of government gets exposed as a failure, year after year by these problems of distorted development equality, by a national government run by and for just one town on the coast. Because that is were the votes are under this system.

Time to change the electoral system. We need to get our own house in order.

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