By: Neri Briceño
Our nation has been divided for most of its political history. This division has been marked by victimization carried out on citizens who are suspected of being in opposition. They are ostracized financially and as best as the party in power can, they are also socially alienated. The fate of those who show open dissent is even worse.
The state, in its effort to kill differences of any kind, does everything in its power to stifle the individual where it hurts and affects their lives the most – financially. This behavior is not restricted to them, but extended to any business they own or are associated with, their families and in some extreme cases, their very close friends.
Why the political establishment would think that actions like these benefit the growth of a nation, is a question only those in power can answer. What the nation needs is a new breed of politicians with a completely different mindset. It needs people who will recognize that they are elected to represent all the people in their constituency and not just those who voted for them. In order to grow this nation, the political establishment needs to recognize that it will take the input of all Belizeans across the political spectrum. Over the years only small strides have been made by the mass parties to have real independent-thinking people run for office – the kind who are truly more concerned about country than party.
I believe that Major Lloyd A. Jones belongs to a small group of politicians to emerge lately that are not politicians. I have known Lloyd for the greater part of my adult life. We first met in Dangriga where we both grew up for most of our teenage life. The first thing that struck me about the Major, was that despite the fact that he was Creole and living in a predominately Garifuna community, he immersed himself totally into our culture, lifestyle and language. Never one day did he act like an outsider and never was he treated like one.
He did not display the type of bourgeois Creole attitude that some present-day Creole politicians display. As a matter of fact, the nickname he so proudly owns is attributed to him being part of our culture and language. Major Jones, like most of us, did not grow up rich and like most people during that time in Dangriga, struggled to carve out a daily living.
He ensured that he kept himself on the straight and narrow path and quickly stood out as an exceptional student. After completing his education, he pursued further studies in Belize City and later joined the Belize Defense Force. The military soon recognized his abilities and the huge potential that he had and sent him to study.
Lloyd is one of a few military officers in Belize and this entire region for that matter, who completed studies at Sandhurst with distinction. The military as it is today, was very political and there were numerous times when competent officers were passed over because of their perceived political affiliation. In Lloyd’s case however, the military was smart enough to see his abilities and leadership qualities for what they were and based on that, was forced to promote him.
Major Jones became the first officer to head the Maritime Unit of the BDF, which is the precursor to the Coast Guard. He established the foundation, protocols and most of the processes which are still being used today by the Coast Guard. After a successful military career, Lloyd easily transitioned into civilian life as the Ports Commissioner, a post that was in the past held by an expatriate. Major Lloyd A. Jones was one of the few competent individuals who has held that position before it became terribly politicized. After serving at the Port, Lloyd went into business for himself and during that time, he was an advocate for justice, a champion for the cause of the ordinary man and a staunch supporter to preserve the territorial integrity of our nation.
As a military man, Major Jones knew firsthand the dangers that our nation faced from an increasingly aggressive Guatemala. I could vividly remember sitting on my living room couch with Lloyd and another extremely close friend, who happened to be running as a UDP candidate in this election, completely immersed in the issues that affected the nation.
The discussions were aimed at how we could do more to change the political atmosphere in Belize, create more unity and most of all, grow the country for the benefit of all. We all came to one conclusion and that was that we had to do more if we wanted the system to change. Lloyd represents the type of individual that this nation desperately needs more of in our political system. His life and his character spell the type of representative he will make for Belize Rural North.
What BRN needs is a strong representative that will tap into the huge potential that this area has. Once the breadbasket of the nation, BRN now has one of the highest levels of unemployment and poverty in the entire nation. The area needs competent political representation and not cosmetic projects that benefit a few, are short term, has no bearing on creating real employment and ultimately has little effect on the lives of those people who have to live there. BRN is one of those few constituencies in the nation that has the basic resources that Belizeans needs, LAND.
The people of BRN have a golden opportunity before them and now is their chance to take it. I have always advocated for more women and people in uniform in the House. We have that chance this election.
It’s all about the people!