By Colin Hyde

Prime Minister Briceño and Agriculture Minister Mai say that in the name of business they intervened in the standoff between Ms. Chan and the Forestry Department. They’re smart guys, and it’s fine for them, a noble goal to be so keen on promoting business, because our country desperately needs success stories in this area. But by all calculations, this one could end up in the bad business category, the one labeled “penny wise, but pound silly.”

Not to mention CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora), which is a very important aspect of this business, we all know about trade wars. Minister Mai told us a story last week about a container of Belizean produce not being given special treatment by a neighbor in the Caribbean. It’s not impossible that a big country offers the product at a lower price, and we’re stuck until we get frustrated. It can get pretty tough there. We don’t want to give anyone fodder to reject our products.

Belizeans really need to understand that our quarantine department is the most important defense we have for animal, plant and fish life in our country. People go abroad, see things and want to bring them back to Belize. Some try to sneak into their bodies and they come up against the quarantine service. Some accept their mistake and their organisms are destroyed. Some run to the minister. Ai, the protective pup should complain to Ms. Chan. At least his fever for a few exotic plants made their rulers look weak.

It seems in this case that Minister Mai was too eager to help, and appealing to the Prime Minister made the crime worse. You must be wondering WHY Ms. Chan felt she had to bring plants that required special permission? She may not know better. Why were the non-certified plants not separated from the shipment and the rest allowed to go to Ms. Chan’s nursery? Where were they? The Prime Minister was right to say that plants needed special attention. You can’t blame him for wanting to help. But it looks like he persevered, and he’s a different horse.

In all discussions, PUP leaders insisted that their efforts were solely on behalf of the corporations. But if I had to guess, I’d say Ms. Chan has friends in the PUP. The party lost a bit of face on this one. Maybe they’ll claim they belong to the human race and ask for some indemnity for their sin, but people got it to the gills with the previous group, so there’s very little slack in the rope . The people demand that the successor be better than the predecessor. Boy, this predecessor was a bad one.

The Department of Quarantine is to produce infomercials showing the importance of guarding our borders. Many of the “good” plants and animals we grew up with are not native to Belize. In the plant world, mango, coconut, blackberry (Java plum), orange, flamboyant, and a number of others are not native to Belize. But bad guys got in. There are enough painful stories in the plant world that we all understand why we have to be very careful. Itchgrass, native to Asia, has become one of our worst weeds. We must be vigilant to protect our fauna and flora.

It would indeed be great if we did some infomercials to educate our people about the work of the Department of Quarantine, which involves departments such as forestry, agriculture and fisheries, but maybe we won’t see any for now, not until Minister Mai recovers from being so helpful.

The referendum is expected to be held over two weeks

Referendum supporters have said they will bring their bags of petitions to the Governor General (GG) this week – it’s a formality – and from there referendum evidence will be loaded onto church buses and shipped to Belize City, to the Office of the Chief Electoral Officer. Normally, the process of verifying petitions should not take more than 2 months and a referendum would take place soon after, but how to formulate a question on a law which is not settled yet?

Referendum supporters are after overturning a law that needs to be amended. It will be interesting to see what Elections and Borders does with petitions signed by 18-year-olds on an issue that involves people 21 or older. I expect people over 80, uh, to be the best anti-weed demographic. You can’t separate veteran dogs from the old tricks they learned back when the world was warped against eating weed.

There will be a lot of talk about the referendum in the weeks to come, and my first suggestion is that it take place over a two-week period, not a day. If the referendum takes place over a period of a few weeks, including weekends, the GOB will not need to give a public holiday. Employers will rejoice. Covid has stolen a lot of time.

Ouch, a one-day referendum, tactically, that would play into the hands of the referendum supporters. They’re spoiling to ruin the legalization process, feverish, chomping at the bit, high if you ask me, while most of us who are for, against the propaganda, look at different parts of the law to see how they can be improved . Feverish will do it in a single day. Lukewarm needs a faster process.

These referendum bohgaz will get up early to drink coffee, some sips from the day before, to stock up on caffeine so they don’t run out of gas in the long lines. They will also want to sing songs, but I can’t think of a song by John Wesley or Joseph Niles that will serve for an anti-weed rally. Indeed, all clean songs belong to weed heads…doctors smoke it, lawyers too… no, no, not pastors, they drink caffeine.

The government does not need to collect petitions to hold a referendum, so it would be good if it had a number of other questions on the ballot. It is the local currency that the GOB will spend to organize the referendum that the churches are asking for, and our money, they must spend it wisely.

I will be very unhappy with Godwin…

…if he likes Patt and Barrow, as some media houses have suggested. It’s all about pedigree. We know where Barrow is from. He’s a man in a robe, a band with tons of accountability, when it comes to the decadence of our country, and he’s made a big deal of his mint in the service of the man who took over our company from phone and skim the value of voice. I said Barrow made a mint. What, every time you see the robed crowd hanging around the rich and famous, they’re rolling around in a big retainer.

I don’t know much about Señor Patt. All we have is that he went to school and graduated. And, after the noisy caucus where the UDP hierarchy decided the future of John de ‘pan who had too many bad friends to trust on the stand, I remember Mr Patt being extremely rude when speaking with the hurry.

Now, Godwin, we all know where he came from. This man was our great champion. Of course, he has a little defile when he went to work for the UDP government, but what monkey that rises that high ever leaves the office with his bottom completely clean? There is a lot of disorder in this territory. I say that a man can lose his holiness and retain his essential virtues.

I say, Godwin, try to clear your name, Braa, but don’t chase the poor. By the way, this for that, Mr Barrow: what happened to those million dollar projects we were told we would get from the BTL deal?