REPORT #319 June 2000

Produced by the Belize Development Trust

It is interesting to compare the olden Belizean style of politics versus that of our neighbor Guatemala under their new style of democracy under President Alfonso Portillo Cabrera since he got elected.

The powerful transportation industry in Guatemala was always a bastion of Guatemalan ownership. This is being changed. Participation by foreigners is being increased to an available 100%. In Belize, of course, we still practise our transportation industry like the controlled Guatemala of yesteryear. Transportation businesses within Belize are still controlled for Belizeans only. In Guatemala, Mr. Weymann says, the recent fight over transportation and a change in the ACT is that the old way didn't jibe with the economic openness policies of the country today. "We don't want more privileges... we want to dismantle the system of privileges and protectionism." All types of monopolies are going to be out.

The tax system in Guatemala is going to be equalized. Foreign firms always paid more than local Guatemalan firms. No more the Budget Minister says. A consensus will be found for a clear and equal tax and social policy under the law, outside of political parties. The hope is that the new TAX reforms will be valid for more than ten years. In the old days, when new government's came in, they made revisions dictated by political and economic leaders, but the final decision was always political. No more! Taxes will be equal to everybody across the board. Foreign or Guatemalan. The idea is to reach a consensus among all sectors of society around the country, not dictated from the political party in the capital.

The Central Bank of Guatemala is receiving Autonomy on monetary policy! In the future, decisions will be made outside of party politics and for sound economic reasoning! Guatemala has a huge international foreign debt deficit created by the rotation of political parties. In Belize, it is not clear if the Belize Central Bank has any real autonomy? It is not believed so, as the parking of foreign loans in the wrong accounts to skew the annual budget figures is politically directed by the Minister of Finance.

Our Minister, 'Joseph Goebbels', believes if you tell lies often enough and loud enough, you can get people to believe it, or at least intimidate them into being apathetic and weak. If you say them often enough, even 'Goebbels' will believe his own lies and tell them with sincerity. Those swing bridge con men hustlers got nothing on Goebbels for sweet hustling con man talk.

The new administration in Guatemala has retired twenty Guatemalan Army Generals. The charge is that in building a new democracy and trying to get the country out of Third World status into the area of a developed country, which assets it has!

The politicizing of the ARMY and the putting of the Army at the service of the political party in power was the wrong way to go! In Belize, our Army, the Belize Defense Force small as it is, still obeys the winning political party rule. The only way to change it, is to take away political power from the Creole port town of Belize City on the coast and restrict them to one seat in the national government. Then by giving each district representatives, no matter the party affiliation control of the national government, it would not matter which political party in Belize the representatives were from. Policies would be from national geographic consensus! Report #87 on the Belize Development Trust has covered a suggested setup like this for political restructuring. Not only the Belizean Army ( BDF ), but also the only one existing National Police Force are politicized. They answer only to one political party under the system and there are no independent elected Municipal, or District Police Chiefs outside of control of any political party rule. A very undemocratic middle European fault in governing.

The President of Guatemala, Alfonso Portillo Cabrera used to be a Marxist-Leninist like our Belizean Prime Minister Said Musa. Guatemalan President Cabrera though, says he has changed. He says a closed economy is absolutely untenable. He says, that all his studying of Marxist Leninism came to nothing, the studies had nothing to do with reality. Guatemala, and Belize are comparable, Belize had and still has a monopolistic structure of European style. President Cabrera of Guatemala says, we have to open up the economy in Guatemala and get competition. He claims he has learned some hard truths and has now changed his opinions. Our Belizean Prime Minister is still wrapped up in pseudo monopolies, party privileges for private ministerial gain and artificially created restrictions. Unlike the President of Guatemala, our Prime Minister still has not woken up, his education continues. In the meantime, Belize still suffers while he gets his ongoing education at the expense of the Belizean economy!

The nascent Argentinian market of telecommunications is about to get a new face. Argentina's Communications Secretary said; that upgrades of $1 billion are planned and new telecom licenses issued. Already companies are lining up. About $3.6 billion is expected to be invested in Argentina by foreign telecommunications competitors. The idea of opening the telecommunications market in Argentina is get the billions of new investment necessary. The investment could invigorate the economy, provide many new jobs and businesses and lower rates from competition. While the rest of the world are busy trying to play catch up with new technologies and economic technical trends and changes, Belize still flounders in yesteryear of 15 years ago. While the world hustles, Belize sleeps in the languid tropical sun, investors frustrated by monopolies and party politics.

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