REPORT #37 March 1999

Produced by the Belize Development Trust
Political viewpoints since Self Government and Independence of different political party rule in the country of Belize. Written as an opinion on the Belize Computer list, by Ray Auxillou, March 3, 1999. Who lived through it all.
Just considering our first FIRST MINISTER, George Price and later our first Prime Minister in Belize was an elected autocratic dictator, with bully boys and the works. Course things those decades were rough mostly because nobody local had any experience with democracy, different opinions, open debate and all that. So those who opposed, or disagreed were brutally in many cases victimized. Both by PUP party adherents in the local rural rank and file. Most went into self exile, or were forced by circumsstances to leave. Price followed in the steps of Huey Long in Louisiana as a political method. Huey Long was not noted for his democracy either, nor were his state police. Nor was the British Honduras police, or later the Belize National police. They took sides, often with brutality and a vengeance. Hints at job security and premotions and all that. When you have a politically controlled police.

Then came Prime Minister Esquivel of the UDP, succeeded for two terms, or 10 years in total with a 5 year space in between. Now Esquivel was a self-declared autocratic dictator. He lusted after the prestige of power and status. Made no bones about it, though on the whole he was a mild dictator. Still, the ego trip was a big one for him.

Price had an excuse. He was out to build a country out of a bunch of country bumpkins that didn't know beans about political systems, or anything else, having been ruled by a paternal but strict autocratic Colonial authority from abroad.

By the time we got to Esquivel as Prime Minister some 25 years later or so, most people had an idea of democracy, free debate, consensus and all that. The UDP under Prime Minister Esquivel were fairly tolerant of dissent and other opinions. Most persecution was mild and usually done by lower ignorant rank and file UDP supporters in rural districts. It was a welcome change from the Price elected autocratic dictatorship, as done like Huey Long in Louisiana, which he seemed to copy and transport to Belize. But Prime Minister Esquivel himself, loved the limelight, the so-called prestige and power. He had stepped off the stage onto that slippery slope of ego gratification, and took a toboggan down the mud slide to the bottom, were he wallowed in the mud of "power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely." Still, he was a mild dictator and did let dissent and other opinions flourish throughout the nation. A welcomr respite and change.

By the time he had managed to get in two terms and it was apparent, he was not a leader in any kind of development, or futuristic vision sense. His forte was more that of a clerk and some of the newspapers alluded to him being just a caretaker government. Ten wasted years basically. In between the PUP got in five years. They also tolerated more dissent after a gap out of office for five years. The idea of consensus and democratic debate was growing. Outright corruption and self interest and greed was alleged by many to be the reason for their downfall at the end of the term of five years. Esquivel went back in by default and lack of any alternatives.

Now we have the PUP again. Price gave up after running that corrupt five years between the UDP two terms. It was apparent, he had lost control and was getting old and no longer capable in his older age. Now the PUP are back again last FALL in 1998 and the mandate and promise was that Prime Minister Musa would bring on participatory democracy mechanisms and government by consensus. Policy sharing and all that. The result so far was stated by the port city lawyer in an article in the REPORTER. Think it was Michael Young who I quoted as saying that Prime Minister Musa, either for himself, or the party is continuing to speak democracy, but acting autocratically.

In the business of acting autocratically, it is a tricky business. Certainly, the increase in the National Debt are his cabinet's doing. Instead of reduction and self reliance and lowering of the interest rates to ease credit through increased savings and thus more capital. The Referendum Act was a sham showpiece DUD! They cut the meat out of it and protected the dictatorial abilities of rule by cabinet cronies. Yet, the Village Councils ACT was a genuine attempt to bring autonomy and participatory democracy. The Town ACT on the other hand was as far from democracy as you can get. It is nothing more than a continuation of colonial centralized policy out of Belmopan and national party politics. Whether this was by deliberate design, or just a mistake we have no idea. They would be better off just including the word TOWN in the Village councils ACT. Village and Town Council ACT.

In a five year term of office for a party, which history teaches us, runs out of mandate and party policy ideas within one year to eighteen months, there seems to be going to be a lot of corruption and develop starting around 13 months from now, when they run out of steam of original goals and ideas. Which means essentially, we will sit through three years of do nothing and wasted time in development toward the future. In the meantime, whether or not Prime Minister Musa as an individual is doing like as that Belize City lawyer Michael Young accused in his article, just talking democracy but acting autocratically, we don't yet know. By their actions you shall know them.

The problem with autocratic party government in an elected dictatorship is that the Prime Minister whoever he or she is, becomes subject to a growing slip and slide down the slippery muddy slope of ego gratification. Power comes on subtly. Power corrupts and the absolute power of the sytem of Belize corrupts absolutely. The longer Prime Minister Musa delays political power sharing and increasing the mechanisms of participatory democracy, the more his ego and personality is going to be overcome by the heady waves emmanating from that mud bath at the bottom of the slope he has started to slide toward. The stronger will be the denials for change from his fellow PUP party members and cronies in cabinet. There isn't much time. If we believe Michael Young in his article, the Prime Minister has his toboggan, just like Esquivel did and plans to ride it pell mell to that mud pit of ego gratification ( swelled head ) at the bottom of the slide. The more he descends the faster the speed and the more difficult to climb back out of the pit, to clear light, consensus democracy and rule by participation mechanisms.

The fact that there has been no talk of re-doing the electoral boundaries by the Electoral Commission in the port town Belize City, leaves one to wonder if Micheal Young, being on the spot, knows something we dont from afar? Is this PUP term going to be just another five year spoils dictatorship? The signs lean slightly toward a bias of YES! The Village Councils ACT is the one balance on the other side of the scales, that says, maybe not! Nine or ten months more, should tell for sure.

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