REPORT #317 June 2000

Produced by the Belize Development Trust

Kidnappings for robbery, sexual rape and murder seem to be on the rise in Belize. The newspaper reports of such events seem out of all proportion to such of yesteryear.

Castro's Cuban Medical Mission LEASE a doctor, or nurse program seems to be popular world wide. In South Africa, Cuban medical people now outnumber the locals. The South African doctors only work where it is lucrative, leaving vast populations and towns in more distant areas without medical service. 99% of the South African doctors only serve 20% of the population. Thus the appreciation of Castro's Medical Leasing Service. Castro gets 30% of all salaries paid to Cuban doctors in South Africa. The government gives them red carpet treatment, regional health departments have to supply a two bedroom apartment, television set, satellite dish, entertainment center and a pine dining room set. Cuban doctors and their spouses receive free air fare, welcome banquets, several weeks of adjustment training, free housing and transportation. They go to rural clinics. They are often given things like ultra sound machines and other tools to work with. Most though are doing great jobs in very difficult conditions. There are accusations of medical malpractise though. One anesthesiologist was sent home after four patients died when he failed to follow procedures. The Cuban medical mission leasing program provides needed foreign exchange cash for Cuba. Every little bit helps. In South Africa, the Cuban government gets 30% of the salary of a doctor. Salaries run about $20,000 to $60,000 USA.

Most countries pay very little for Cuban doctors and many, just like Belize, give them next to none equipment and supplies to work with. But what the Cuban doctors have going for them are practical skills, unlike their European and North American medical counterparts. Lacking equipment, they must do things the old fashioned way. There are no fancy equipments, expensive fancy tests, and a chain of doctors above them with whom to confer. Often no medicines or drugs. No specialists! The advanced countries no longer produce the all round generalist doctor anymore. It is here the Cuban doctors beat their USA and European counterparts in medicine, they do work with very little.

There have been no announcements in the Belizean media on-line about the sudden appearance of an IEEI/ BECOL, OPTION CERTIFICATE, a receipt for payment, tax records tracing, foreign exchange permits and such for the alleged embezzled of $3.34 million of Social Security money, by a past PUP party Social Security Head. In fact, if anything, the situation is getting to be set in concrete and the idea that these millions were embezzled becoming more likely every day. Nobody is providing evidence of this being otherwise and that the judge and court ordering Courtenay to pay the money back was right the first time around.

It could not have been an isolated individual embezzlement either. The allegations on the street by rumor and gossip, say that there had to be at least one inside person in the Ministry of Finance of the time. Actually, recent events point to a much wider embezzlement conspiracy suspicions. The lack of response by Prime Minister Said Musa point to a wider group of people involved. Suspicions and allegations suggest that a small portion of the alleged embezzlement of millions of Social Security funds, might have gone into the treasury of the PUP political party. This might account for the lack of any concern among rank and file and elected representatives of the PUP party. If they have been told to keep quiet about it, that the poor peoples retirement money was stolen by their party for political party affairs, the silence would be understandable. Finding the money, the cash and paper trail and breaking the code of PUP party silence, including now what is an obvious conspiracy lacking any evidence to the contrary, from the current Head of Social Security actions, brings out the usual shortcomings of our political system currently in use. Belize might be in the Caribbean, but it has an African corrupt style of government!

Who investigates a sitting group of PUP party cabinet members and PUP appointed Social Security Head, for alleged criminal conspiracy of embezzlment and coverup of alleged embezzled social security retirement funds?

This brings up the need for legislation for establishment of a SPECIAL PROSECUTOR, like the USA. How can the police investigate an embezzlement by their political bosses, in a system where the police are controlled by those same crooked bosses? This brings up the point that police forces need ELECTED chiefs, or commissioners, independent of the elected politicians. A common enough idea of common sense, but apparently too astute for Belize City townie types to grasp. This thing is not going to go away! It paints the whole PUP party as CROOKS and embezzlers. It will undoubtedly cost them the next election. It doesn't matter who or what runs against them in the next elections, this stink of alleged corruption is going to dog the PUP party again and again.

Argentina's dollar standard seems to be working. Downsized government workers, unions and the unemployed are not too happy about it though. Argentina has gone through two recessionary years while downsizing, trying to get their financial house in order, and live within their means according to productivy levels. Investors expected the actual GDP growth to be lower than the governments expectations and so it proved to be. Little reaction on the stock market about the announcements though. The lower GDP was already factored in. The estimate of GDP growth was adjusted from 3.4 % to 3 %. The first quarter of GROWTH was 2.3 %. This might seem low, but actually any growth at all means Argentina is coming out of a recession now. The IMF has been hovering on the sidelines like a vulture, with a $7.2 billion credit line, hoping Argentina would need to borrow money from it's lenders. It doesn't look like it though. Analysts say Argentina can meet it's goals if the economy just grows with as little as 2.5 %. Slower growth estimates are not expected to hurt the efforts to reduce it's budget deficits. In Belize, the budget deficits are estimated from media loan reports to be about 300% more than annual revenue.

Thick, tropical mixed fruit juices seem to be the rage, for the drink and run crowd in the world now. The market is expanding exponentially. One recent marketing program in New York sold 6.4 million cases of tropical mixed thick sludge like fruit juices. Are there any ideas here for local Belizean small processors?

It has been found that live enteroviruses, including polio, coxacie A and B and echoviruses and diseases such as herpangina, myocarditis and such, which can cause illnesses like fever, to viral meningitis survive in the Florida Keys boating canals cutting through the islands made up of salt ocean water. The canals are getting the virus contamination from leaking septic tanks that are very old. Other sources are out dated waste water systems. A fixing of all sewage systems, both public and private are ordered to be completed within 10 years. There are hot spots of viruses in the canals. Anybody swimming here is playing Russian Roulette.

In Belize, contamination from Cayo West and Belmopan down the Belize River is increasing. While Belize City cleaned up it's open sewage canals, they can do little to stop contamination from further west in the country coming down river. To make it worse, the mangroves are being cut, the shallow ponds and lagoons along the coast filled for real estate development, which filter toxins out of land runoffs, rivers, streams and fertilizer applications.

Placentia is in danger from to many shrimp farms and ponds, with water runoffs going into the lagoon. The coastal filtration system of shallow natural ponds and mangroves are being destroyed. There is absolutely no monitoring by any government specialists.

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