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Belize Rural North Politics of Violence?

Belize Rural North Politics of Violence?
March 22
06:42 2019

By Neri Briceno

This week the People’s Unity Party’s Belize Rural North Standard Bearer Marconi Leal made a public apology after getting into an altercation with a known United Democratic Party supporter, Damion Garbutt. Leal admitted and I quote ‘He caught me at my lowest point, it was late in the evening and he harassed me and saying a lot of foul things, but I want to apologize this morning to all those who see this video, that I’m really sorry about what happened. Like I said earlier, he caught me when I was at my low point and I’m sorry, I apologize today. I don’t look for trouble, but I really snapped that day, and this is why I come to Love FM to make people know that I want to apologize for what happened. He would have strike me too, so I did throw the first punch and I want to apologize’.

Now, there are several ways to interpret this move. Either Marconi is making a brilliant PR move to cover what has been made public via a viral video, is really and truly apologetic for the obvious mistake or is somehow trying to in some way direct blame to Garbutt since in his closing remarks he said, and I quote, ‘He would have strike me too, so I did throw the first punch’.

Either way, if successful in the next General Election, we must now question what type of leader this individual would make. Belizean politics is especially rough, loud and in your face but that is sometimes the nature of free speech and the democratic process. What could Garbutt have possibly said that was so as he puts it, ‘foul’ that could have released this rage from Leal and cause him to snap? In case Marconi has not realized it, he is now a public figure who is seeking membership in one of the highest bodies in the nation. One that makes laws and is able to change the lives not only of people but also the direction of the nation. Name calling in Belizean politics has always been the case and will probably remain that way for a long time, so to resort to any form of violence should be the last option possible.

In a Facebook post on Major Lloyd A. Jones’ page (the former PUP Standard Bearer for this division) on March 19th, it reads, and I quote ‘I walked BRN for quite some time and never did anybody disrespect me or hurl insults at me. I know “Fello” quite well and I was told that he is one of Castro’s generals. I respected him and he has always respected me.’ The question is what type of politics Jones was practicing that Leal is not.

On the heels of this, word was received that Minister of Transport and National Emergency Management and Area Representative for BRN, Edmund Castro’s 80 acres of cane fields in Isabella Bank and Santa Marta were apparently intentionally set on fire. While the incidents may be totally isolated they point to a larger picture of heavy political tension which can possibly erupt into political violence in this rural constituency. Whatever feelings you may have about Castro or any other representative on either side of the aisle, as to how they acquired what they have, any form of violence is never the answer.

If as a people we feel strongly enough that the monies and assets of elected officials no longer serving in the House need to be investigate, then start advocating to your party, Standard Bearers and Representatives to get it done or that legislature of that nature is passed because taking the law into your own hands is the start of a very slippery slope.

Rather than creating hardline political differences, the focus of the elected representative and those aspiring to represent the people of BRN needs to be focusing on how to develop this constituency and bring it back to the bread basket of production it once was. This is one of the areas with some of the greatest potential in the nation, with wide open space and natural waterways with pristine flora and fauna. It is ideal not only for crop production and livestock but also for tourism and a wide range of small business. This constituency needs strong leadership, new ideas, more innovation and a way for the people of the BRN community to have the opportunity to make a living in their own backyard if they want to rather than having to travel daily to Belize City to toil. Only the people of BRN know truly what their needs are and what it is that will work for them in this unique enclave of the nation. Whether Castro or Leal is the man for that job is a choice only they can make.

It’s all about the people.

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