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“Petrocaribe it the people’s money, stupid” Print E-mail
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Thursday, 20 November 2014 00:00

petrocaribe rally.jpg - 196.10 KbBack in the days of Bill Clinton’s first campaign for presidency of the U.S. of A. his people posted a sign at headquarters to humourously focus their own attention on the fundamental campaign issue: “It’s the economy, stupid.”  This became the unofficial slogan for the campaign.

The turnout of the Belizean people on Tuesday 18th November at the National Assembly in Belmopan, to support Prime Minister Dean Barrow and his Government’s spending of the Petrocaribe money, which has provided a range of benefits to people across the entire country, was massive – despite grey skies and rain. This money has been very transparently and very publicly used to build roads, streets, drains, public buildings and facilities in different locations across the country. It has created jobs, putting money directly in people’s pockets and driving down crime. It has been used to provide social assistance to those in need. In the motion before the National Assembly the Prime Minister produced a highly detailed accounting of how every dollar was spent!

The contrast with the spending by the Said Musa Government in 2008 of the Venezuela money could not be sharper. That Government took ten million US dollars gifted to the people of Belize by Venezuela and gave it away, purely for the private benefit of their cronies. They concealed this action from the people. They never accounted for it.

Focus on the Petrocaribe money was drawn by Mr. Julius Espat, the aspiring Opposition leader. He launched media presentations and a court case to challenge the spending of this money. In direct response Prime Minister Barrow stepped up to meet the challenge by bringing the matter before the National Assembly for the Assembly to give specific approval to using the money for the projects and programmes for which it has been used. That approval was formally given at Tuesday’s stirring meeting of the National Assembly.

Again, there is sharp contrast with how Mr. Espat’s party handled a comparable situation. In 2007 his party introduced a motion in the National Assembly to approve a resolution to pay the debts for the failed private Universal Health Services Hospital, that the Musa Government had guaranteed for their cronies. A massive public protest at the National Assembly building almost brought down that government and the motion was abandoned.

The massive support by the Belizean people of the Barrow Government’s use of the Petrocaribe funds has provided the governing party with an ideal launch of its campaign for country wide municipal elections, due in March 2015. The governing party must thank Mr. Espat for creating an issue where there was none. And visitors to his campaign headquarters should look to see the sign he should put up: “Petrocaribe is the people’s money, stupid.”

Last Updated on Thursday, 20 November 2014 17:31