Monday, July 15, 2024

Opinion: The future of Belizean citizens and their country are at risk in this upcoming general election

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According to the constitution of Belize, every five years the Prime Minister has the power vested in him or her to call General Elections. The Prime Minister also have the power vested in him or her, to call the elections earlier if he or she chooses to do so and that has happened several times in the past. Most of the General Elections that were held, was between the two major political parties namely; the People’s United Party (PUP) the oldest political party in Belize and the United Democratic Party (UDP), a party that emerged out of three political parties in 1973.

WELLINGTON C. RAMOS Education: Hunter College New York NY-B.A.’s Political Science and History Minor: Communications, Long Island University Brooklyn, NY-M.A. Urban Studies and Post Graduate in Educational Administration. Profession: Adjunct Professor History and Political Science, Garifuna and Belizean Activist, Educator and Columnist.

Since Belize obtained its independence on September the 21st 1981, this will be the ninth General Election to be held. The United Democratic Party won in 1984, 1993, 2008, 2012 and 2015. The People’s United Party won the elections in 1989, 1998 and 2003. The United Democratic Party won five out of the last eight General Elections to the People’s United Party three. There were some third parties that contested some of these General Elections like VIP and BPP but they had little effect on the outcome between the two major parties.

Lack of money, failure to organize their parties in the entire country and vote buying by the two major parties UDP and PUP, have made it difficult for the new parties to win seats in these General Elections. For this upcoming General Election, there is a new political party that will be contesting this election by the name of the Belize People’s Front (BPF) with their party leader Nancy Marin. Unlike the previous new political parties, they are aggressively seeking candidates in all the constituencies throughout the entire country of Belize to run for office with them. They are also using the social media to raise their issues like; corruption, the 3 Billion Dollars debt, abuse of Ministerial discretion, vote buying, gangs, murders, crimes, poor health facilities, unemployment, housing opportunities, small business loans, land and lot non availability to the citizens, dual citizens rights for Belizeans living abroad and many other issues affecting Belize and the nation.

Their hope is to field a full slate of 31 candidates before the nominations are closed. As of today they have a total of 17 candidates with fourteen more slots to fill. Since the Coronavirus pandemic arrived in Belize, the government of Belize is being exposed for not having the medical and financial resources to deal with the problem. Many of the Belizean people have become infected with the virus, risk dying,  lost their jobs, and there were those who have never gotten a job because none was available to them for years under the PUP and UDP administrations. It is estimated that Belize’s unemployment rate is at 35% or more.

The PUP and the UDP have never brought a Comprehensive Employment Bill to the National Assembly to create jobs for their citizens. Neither did they create new industries or encourage industries to come into the country to make jobs available to the citizens. The Coronavirus pandemic has placed employment as one of the top issues among all issues not only in Belize but in most industrialized countries in the world. If a person does not have a job, he or she cannot take care of his or herself, much less their needy families.

Both the UDP and PUP are used to winning elections by giving the citizens a few dollars and goodies on election day and then disappear until the next General Election. This time Belizeans are saying that they will take their few dollars and goodies and will vote them out.

If the Belizean people commit themselves to their plan of action, then it is possible for a new party more than likely, the Belize People’s Front (BPF), to become the next government of Belize. All a party needs to govern the country of Belize, is to win 16 seats out of the total 31 seats. There is also the possibility, that two political parties end up in a tie with the same number of seats at the top. They will then have to form a coalition government with another party for the first time in Belize’s history.

As the election draws closer, there will be many surprises with all the political parties contesting this upcoming General Election. Some candidates might change their constituencies or withdraw from their races. Any one of these occurrences can have an impact on which political party will form the new government of Belize. Belizeans living at home and abroad, are not happy with the current conditions they are facing. Based on the history of Belizean people’s voting sentiment, when they get angry the results of the elections become unpredictable. I will be watching this election very closely because I think history will be made this time.

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