Today, December 9th is internationally recognized as Anti-Corruption Day. Belize has still not signed on to this UN Convention even though there has been much public pressure to comply. One of the foremost promoters of signing on to the convention was the Vision Inspired by the People. Most of their members have now joined the Belize Progressive Party who has taken up the mantle to agitate for government to sign on. In recognizing the day, a few members from the Belize Progressive Party appeared this morning on Rise and Shine to voice their opinion on the country’s corruption status.
Robert Lopez, BPP: Brings me to what the world is launching today. Today on International Corruption Day, we have now joined the big leagues. Under corruption, what we were experiencing would be classified as petty corruption; bloated contracts, kickbacks, your statutory body paying for your parties and things like that, petty corruption. But when we moved on in 2012 and we facilitated a passport for a criminal that was in jail to the tune of $44M and on, we internationalized our corruption and when we harbored, even before that, because it just blew up, a criminal international fugitive wanted for $7B, he was involved in $7B international crime that affected people across several nations, we are now in the big leagues. Our corruption is in the millions and billions so my point is this. We are now in the big leagues and we are being watched and watched keenly because we are now,,, and so right now today go to transparency international and you’ll see that today they’re launching what they call now “Grand Corruption” and grand corruption is at the scale now that we are involved with. Transponder that affects thousands of people across many borders and countries. When you scam $7B, that’s $7,000,000,000, and the amount of people that this affected and you harbor one of those fugitives, and you allow him to get away and escape on a $10,000 bail, you are damn corrupt.
After the BPP came off Rise and Shine, they went over to the National Assembly building in Belmopan to demonstrate while the senate was being held. The party wants the current administration to sign and ratify the United Nations Convention against Corruption, which was first presented in a meeting in Merida, Yucatan, Mexico, 11 years ago. One hundred and seventy seven countries in the world has signed on to and agreed with the convention against corruption. Paco Smith, member of the BPP tells us more.
Paco Smith, BPP Member: First and foremost, we are calling on the Prime Minister of Belize to sign the UNCAC, It’s important, very important because it would demonstrate that the political will is here in Belize to do the right thing in regards to curving corruption. Had Belize signed, we would have been the 178 country to sign on to it and with regards to that also, you know the transparency international also has their corruption index. Unfortunately because we are not a signatory to the UNACA, subsequently we’re not listed on the corruption index. That’s a bad reflection on the country of Belize especially when we have our counterpart Barbados, which we believe is a shining example with regards to showing the political will to do the right thing.
Also at the protest alongside Smith was Robert “Bobby” Lopez. Lopez told PlusTV that Belizeans can also do their part in the fight against corruption.
Robert “Bobby” Lopez, BPP Member: The only way to fight corruption is to get to the root. Find out where it is that those who are supporting it and so we hope that the new senators will have a conscience, will put Belize first and not party first, and vote their conscience and let’s get to the bottom and start the clean up corruption. Belizeans you can do your part. You can call your elected person who you voted for, make sure that they disclose, make sure that support the investigations at any time that corruption surfaces it’s ugly head, we must clip it. Zero tolerance, get to the bottom of it who needs to go to jail needs to go to jail.
After their small demonstration, the group headed to Belize City in front of the Prime Minister’s Coney Drive Office. There they held a mock signing of a symbolic anti corruption convention
Robert “Bobby” Lopez: Today we will have a symbolic signing of United Nations Convention in Belize because we promised that we would have done that and so it’s going to be symbolic. We’re going to have it at 2 o’clock in Belize City in front of the Prime Minister’s office because really he should be the one doing it today, unfortunately he is not so we’ll probably set up somewhere in that area where there previous Guatemalan president came to visit him. We’re serious about corruption. Guatemala has signed it by the way. We would have been today, the 178 country to sign on and what a celebration we would have had today if we would have only done that. So many issues, we will continue to, and we applaud PlusTv for their efforts in doing because the media plays an important role. All of us needs to bring down corruption.