Thirty-four years ago there were great expectations as Belize prepared to welcome her independence from Great Britain. Thirty-four years later, not all of those expectations have been met, but we would be a dense and morose people indeed if we did not pause to give thanks to God for His wonderful providence.
On this, our 34th anniversary of independence, we note with satisfaction that the freedoms of our democracy are in tact. Our economy is not as strong as we would like it to be because we still have a double-digit percentage of unemployment and we continue to import a lot more than we export. But our foreign reserves are stronger than they have ever been, and we have made substantial gains in dealing with our national debt.
There are still a few dark clouds. We still have an underlying frustration among our young people, which manifests itself in gang-related crime and despite our best efforts to educate our citizens, there is still a discernable resistance to scholarship and learning among those who have been gifted to go further and higher.
We have maintained the health of our environment on land and sea and we have made steady progress against diseases such as HIV, diabetes, dengue and other vector-born illnesses which have the potential to destroy our quality of life.
We still have challenges to meet in education and technical training and we still need to put more emphasis on entrepreneurship and production instead of mere merchandising and shop-keeping.
Our agriculture and agro-industries need to be diversified to resist the shocks of drought, crop disease and bad weather and we need to aim at becoming more skillful and enterprising in the technologies which can bring about a new dawn of prosperity for Belize.
We have two big events facing us: general elections and a national referendum to decide whether Belize should approach the International Court of Justice at the Hague for a ruling that would, once and for all time, resolve our territorial dispute with Guatemala.
We pray for guidance that our all-knowing and merciful God will show us the way forward and give us the wisdom and fortitude to follow through.
Happy Independence Day Belize!