Today is International Anti-Corruption Day and the Vision Inspired by the People (VIP), the political movement that has been attempting to sanitize Belizean politics from corrupt influence for the last decade or so, hosted a press conference to update the nation on their strategy to promote and enforce anti-corruption. 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, 10 years ago. The party has been touring the nation seeking support and today its public relations officer, Robert “Bobby” Lopez, developed the theme of Zero Tolerance for corrupt practices by all.
Mr. Robert “Bobby” Lopez- Public Relations Officer of the VIP
“I am very pleased this morning that we have reached the point in our country’s history, where while our governments have not signed unto this convention, the people are asking and are clamoring for them to do so. I’d like to start by reading the United Nations Secretary General’s message on international anti-corruption day, it was sent to us by the United Nations office only yesterday. So, I thank them for send it to us. I actually thought, did any of the media received this? It says, corruption suppresses economic growth by driving up costs and undermines the sustainable management of the environment and natural resources. It breaches fundamental human rights, exacerbates poverty and increases inequality by diverting funds from health care, education and other essential services”.
Guest speaker Audrey Matura-Shepherd, a social activist and attorney, pointed out that many times, Belizeans are part of the problem.
Ms. Audrey Matura-Shepherd- Attorney at Law
“So, what can we do? Many Belizeans are guilty of accepting bribes at elections at election time. So, they are corrupt. This is contrary to the representation of the People’s Act, so, we are part of the problem collectively. To keep our loyalty to ensure we will vote for them again, area representatives are pressured to keep doing us favors, giving us jobs, handout, etcetera. So, again, we are part of the problem. We talk a lot and act very little against our political leaders and officials because we are not prepared to demand their accountability because we ourselves don’t want to be accountable. So, again, we are part of the problem. We like to about who you know, not what you know practice to get simple things done from standing in line for services to getting a piece of land and even a job. So, we are part of the problem”.
And VIP’s chairman, Hubert Enriquez, called for greater accountability in the Public Sector, including in the Public Service in which he once served.
“What I believe Belize desperately needs is a credible long term vision and strong political leadership that is able to work across the aisles with all stakeholders implementing track land. The public service must play a crucial role in implementing this plan. What is therefore needed to energize public service in place of the one that is lethargic and responding only to the narrow minded mandates of the political directorate”.
Lopez told PLUS News that they are yet to receive a response from Prime Minister Dean Barrow on an audience to discuss corruption, while PUP leader Francis Fonseca hosted the third party at his Belize City office to sign the petition and cement his plans to, when elected, sign on if the UDP have not already done so. No one really knows why the convention has not been signed by Belize but we should have some answers within the week. The National Trade Union Congress, Chamber of Commerce and Belize Environmental Law and Policy Office (BELPO) have sent messages of solidarity with the VIP’s movement.