African Reserves Loans

No big steps to follow, but everyone must win


When the Hon. John Briceño took over Belize last year, he had no difficult act to follow regarding: our economic prosperity; he was not in new territory, as no Belize prime minister has ever resumed a robust economy.

Belize’s second prime minister Manuel Esquivel of the UDP took over from George Price and a PUP that couldn’t take us further. Price, who ruled Belize during the years of self-government, starting in 1964, and who became Belize’s first prime minister when we gained independence in 1981, presided over an exhausted government when it called an election General on December 14, 1984, and got exploded at the polls, 21-7. In fairness to Price, he could have borrowed to make his government look better in that election, as our foreign debt in 1984 was less than $ 100 million. dollars.

Perhaps the PUP under Price should be excused for its poor economic performance, as much of its energy has been spent in the struggle to see us stand proudly among the world of nations. Belize could have gained independence from the United Kingdom with a number of other British colonies in the Caribbean, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago in 1962, or with Barbados and Guyana in 1966, without the unjust claim of our territory by our sometimes aggressive and always powerful neighbor, Guatemala.

Independence was considerably delayed because of this demand, and it was not until the mid-1970s, after much lobbying around the world, mainly with African / Caribbean / Pacific (ACP) countries, and by gaining some support in Central America, which Belize broke by. In 1975, Belize garnered massive support for its cause in the United Nations General Assembly, and when the mighty United States, under the leadership of its 39th President, James Earl Carter, Jr., lent its support to the Belize in 1980, Guatemala was almost alone in its position. against our country.

Price won the title of “Father of the Nation” for leading Belize to independence in 1981, but in 1984 the people of Belize felt it was time for a change. Price would miraculously return in 1989, for a one-time term, in which the regime’s seeds would be sown that would produce a bitter harvest in another PUP government, a decade later.

When Esquivel began his reign in 1984, there was an open field before him, as the country was not heavily in debt and the country’s main assets were under government control. This Esquivel government, which would lose at the polls in a very surprising way in 1989, privatized the banana industry; sold shares in the country’s only telecommunications company, BTL, but retained control; sold passports as part of an economic citizenship program; and was included in the USAID program.

The nation’s reserves were said to have been at their highest level when the UDP went to the polls in 1989, and lost by two seats, 15 to 13. Some UDP wished they had splurged, but it didn’t. could not have happened under Esquivel’s methodical method. tax management.
The UDP, with Esquivel at the helm, would return to power in 1993 in a shock victory, when the PUP, which looked good due to large borrowing and a UDP eruption due to differing views on the Maritime Areas Act (MAA) which had been passed in the House of Representatives in 1992, called the elections about 15 months earlier.

The shattered opposition gathered hastily to challenge the early general election, and when the returning officer finished reading the numbers early in the morning of July 1, 1993, it was UDP 16, PUP 13. UDP was totally unprepared to lead, and he lost a lot of luster by chasing and failing to bring to justice a PUP agent who he claimed had stolen money from the people, and also for guillotining 800 agents governments to resolve a debt crisis.

The people saw Said Musa and his PUP government as a breath of fresh air in 1998, gave his party a huge 26-3 victory, and for a while the big borrowing, spending, privatization of the PUP ensued. indeed seemed to be our saviors, until we couldn’t keep up with the service of the high interest loans they had taken out, we discovered that a portion of the expenses went into the pockets of party friends, and the BTL’s privatization backfired. The PUP arrived like a roaring train in 1998, and they came out with a bombing, 25-6, in 2008.

Enter Dean Barrow and the UDP, and the hopes of a nation were with them, as they had promised to correct the failures of the former government and to deal with the worst perceived crime the PUP, corruption, with a sharp machete. Lamentably, the machete was not blunt, it was non-existent; the political reforms promised have mostly been forgotten, and instead of correcting failures, they have made them worse. The people waited a long time for the delivery of the UDP, and when the party did not, they went to the polls in 2020 and voted by an overwhelming majority, 26 to 5, for the PUP and its new leader. , John Briceño.

Of our five MPs, the Hon. John Briceño inherited the worst economy by far, because when he and his party took power, our country, like the rest of the world, was (and is) in the grip of a pandemic. His only consolation is that there is less of a problem of having to measure himself against a predecessor, because like Esquivel after Price (1984), like Musa after Esquivel (1998), and like Barrow after Musa (2008), he does not follow not giant steps. re: our economic prosperity.

When he steps onto the podium on Independence Hill in Belmopan on Tuesday, September 21, for the 40th celebration of our independence, the Prime Minister is under the pressure of a promise we will all win under his government. Many Belizeans have been waiting for this for a very long time.

Some on the side of the divide who know where their next meal is coming from – live in a good house, drive a good vehicle, have all of their loan payments covered, and have some capital and investment ambitions – have charged our failures to our “still” being a young country. Belizeans across the divide, who are in the majority, are tired of hearing excuses. If they understand the particular difficulty of this period because of the pandemic, they expect to demand the best of their new government. With every step, every movement of the Prime Minister and his new government, people are watching, because they are exhausted, tired of bad governance, tired of failure.

Forty years ago, we boldly flew our flag at the United Nations. The promise was then that we would all win. It was John B’s wish and his new government that they would keep their promises.

Happy Birthday Belize!


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