“The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it will never forget what they did here!”
These resounding words of Abraham Lincoln in his
Gettesberg Address pretty much sums up the dilema of the People’s United Party and its leader Mr. Francis Fonseca.
It’s not that Mr. Fonseca the younger is at fault for anything that he has said or has tried to do. The damage was done long before he inherited the mantle of leadership of the PUP. The damage was done during the years when his predecessor, Mr. Said Musa and Mr. Musa’s good friend, Mr. Ralph Fonseca, were in charge of the nation’s finances.
People remember the things that were done during the time of the unholy alliance of Musa-Fonseca-Ashcroft. They remember things like the sale of the Pound Yard by Fonseca’s younger brother, David, when he was Mayor of Belize City. They remember how the people had to beg for internet service because Lord Ashcroft who controlled the country’s telecommunications service, did not approve. They remember the exploitation and eventually the bankruptcy of the Development Finance Corporation and how this profligacy has come back to haunt home-owners who were encouraged to borrow recklessly.
On the eve of municipal elections last week, Mr. Ashcroft returned to Belize and at one of his rare press conferences, he scolded the UDP because the government had borrowed too indulgently from the Petro Caribe Fund. Mr. Ashcroft seemed to resent the fact that the Barrow Government had found a way to rid itself of its dependence on the Ashcroft “bounty”, something the People’s United Party has not been able to do.
There was a time when Mr. Ashcroft was able to destabilize the economy of Belize-simply by withdrawing millions of foreign exchange dollars which Belize badly needed to shore up her foreign reserves. He could take and use millions of dollars of Sales Tax revenue on the grounds that his Belize Telecommunications company was not making sufficient money to satisfy his huge appetite for profits and power.
He could do all these things with the approval of the Musa-Fonseca regime and become the manipulative power behind the PUP throne.
These are some of the things that voters remember:- not the things that Mr. Francis Fonseca says today, but the things that his predecessors did when Mr. Musa wielded the awesome power of Prime Minister.
Voters looking back at those halcyon days realize that Belizeans had become entrapped because our emerging Nation State had lost control of its economic freedom.
Belize might have to lean heavily on the Petro Caribe Fund for development resources today, but we still have control of our country and our essential utilities, and we know that there is light at the end of the tunnel!
Debt has no sting if the borrower has a way of honourably discharging that debt, and the world is full of examples of people and countries who achieve prosperity by working themselves out of debt.
The long, somber shadow of Mr. Ashcroft continues to hover over the PUP and continues to raise concern that maybe the grand old party can no longer stand on its own.