Lighting a Candle Print E-mail
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Written by Jamil Matar   
Thursday, 23 September 2010 00:00
You know; my initial inclination this week was to talk only about the Independence Day celebrations here in OW, since it was impressive as usual, but I decided it’s better to deal with the more sober matters first. This of course deals with the speeches delivered by the Leader of the Opposition and the Prime Minister in Belmopan on the morning of the Twenty-first day of September 2010.
Briefly put, the speech by leader of the new PUP reminded me of the infamous “never before” soliloquy given by Musa when confronted with revelations of corruption in his first administration. Briceño, like his former superior, mentioned several occurrences that had “never” happened before, like high crime rates, failed police investigations, slow business, inferior infrastructure and high poverty levels. Under the past PUP government, our country flourished like “never before” (that was sarcasm, by the way).
I have mentioned more than once that criticism is easy to dispense, and in Belize one does not even have to prove the accusation. Let’s look at some examples from the Opposition’s speech, “every day businesses are forced to fold and more Belizeans continue to lose jobs”. Do we know this for a fact? How many businesses have failed in 2010, and how many jobs lost? Where is this information collated and where is it lodged?
Another broad statement in the address intended for the dramatic, “in the services sector business is increasingly precarious, and in tourism the number continue (sic) to decline threatening the very survival of our small hotels and operators”.  Again I ask; whom or where are they getting their information from? Aldana from San Pedro?  I mean, seriously, we should communicate only facts at these important assemblages. After all, there are several foreign dignitaries present, people.
Just this past week, the National Statistical Institute released some encouraging figures stating that the Belizean economy is recovering from the recession and there is actually an increase in all areas of the productive sector, with a sharp increase in tourism arrivals and hotel occupancy!
But we should not put too much into these staged performances by representatives of the Opposition. The Prime Minister, in his prepared message to the Belizean people addressed all of the PUP Leader’s allegations as if he knew what these would have been. He highlighted the several investments that were coming on stream regarding infrastructure, totaling up to $100 million, covering Orange Walk, Belize City, Belmopan, Toledo, and the construction of the famous Kendal Bridge.
The PM also outlined the many strategies which the UDP government was adopting to fight the scourge of crime in Belize City, including job creation, safe-zoning and restoration and educational opportunities for the youth. Even the private sector will benefit an infusion of low cost capital very shortly, according to Hon. Barrow, when the president of the IDB visits Belize in November. We were told of improved services at BTL and of the prospectus to sell shares in this communications provider to the general public by the middle of October.
The climax of the Prime Minister’s speech, however, was when he invited the Leader of the Opposition to stop “cursing the dark and light a candle”. I think there was a silent cheer for this remark from all who were listening to the official ceremonies countrywide, by radio or television. I know I did. Let me fast-forward now to my home district.
The PUP Party Leader, perhaps exhausted from his Belmopan presentation, passed the honors to a junior PUP Town Councilor here in Orange Walk to deliver his Independence Day address to this district. This was an insult to Orange Walkeños, since he was right there on the stage. To make matters worse, they spoke of unity on this special day, yet formed their own little procession within the official march. Indeed, two of the three PUP Councilors (one was absent due to a sick parent) flanked Briceño rather than join in unity with the other members of the OWTC.
As I said above, the parade here in OW was very long and colorful, with many more floats than previous years. The Mayor sends his special thanks to the “Policia Estatal Preventivo de Quintana Roo”, the Carnival groups from Belize City, and the “Mision Milagros” from Venezuela. I managed to get a small window view between the crowds that lined the entire path of the parade and found it extremely festive. I tell you, it’s a massive event to celebrate here in Orange Walk Town, Independence.