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Feb 4, 2015

Friends of Belize Hosts Business Conference in the Jewel

Today, the organization known as Friends of Belize hosted a business luncheon under the auspices of the Belize Leadership Institute. That institute was formed to target leaders in the community and enhance and utilize their individual and collective talents to develop the country. Guest speaker at the event was U.S. Ambassador to Belize Carlos Moreno, a legal professional who took up the posting in Belize in June, 2014. He addressed the gathering on the critical role of an effective rule of law in Belize. Mike Rudon was at the session and has the story.

 

Mike Rudon, Reporting

The session this morning was well attended by business professionals, gathered together to explore ways of developing the country. On hand as a part of a group known as Friends of Belize was former US Ambassador to Belize Robert Dieter, and the main speaker was current Ambassador Carlos Moreno. Moreno opened with a statement which will certainly please those on one side of the offshore drilling debate currently raging.

 

Carlos Moreno

Carlos Moreno, US Ambassador to Belize

“Here in Belize your patrimony, our patrimony, are legacy for the future. The very purity of our water and air, our livelihood from the bounty of the sea and the preservation of our forests, without any question depends once again on a rule of law that is honest, fair and consistent. And this protection…and I am sure I’m preaching to the choir here, is all the more crucial in the jewel that is Belize with its incredible natural resources, it’s coral reefs, its protected forests, it’s diverse flora and fauna and its ancient Mayan sites, all deserving of protection. And these protections are not only vital to the tourist industry here, and the many jobs and investment opportunities presented there, but the basic preservation of the environment itself, it’s essential beauty and its intimate relation to extreme climate variations is reason enough to afford and enforce those protections.”

 

Moreno’s address really focused on the rule of law, and its importance in a democratic, developing country. He says that more than anything, the rule of law can be the great equalizer, levelling the playing field to give all persons a voice.

 

Carlos Moreno

“A truly effective rule of law allows the ordinary man or woman on the street, regardless of race, gender, national origin or social status…it could be a tenant, an employee or a consumer, to take on the mightiest corporation or entity, private or governmental, to challenge an unfair business practice, an unconstitutional policy or procedure, or the taking of property or the like. The law can be a great equalizer when the justice system fulfils its intended function of delivering equal justice for all, a model that is engraved on our US Supreme Court building in DC. But what I’ve seen over the years is that the best, well considered and well intentioned laws, if unexercised, will go unenforced, and may as well cease to exist.”

 

On the other side of the spectrum from the lack of enforcement of laws is the abuse of the rule of law, which can result in a democratic dictatorship.

 

Carlos Moreno

“Rule of law is much more than just political stability because we know that there are many regimes where rule of law is so prevalent, so strong and so strict that it leads to political repression and oppression. It becomes, in a really perverse way, the absence of law and the progenitor of lawlessness. Because we all know that the constitutions of some countries read like a model bill of rights even though they are much less than that in reality. And rule of law is much more than just sending bad people to prison, something I did for a good part of my career in law.”

 

One aspect of the rule of law which certainly resounded in the room this morning was the threat caused by crime. In Belize we’ve all seen the effects on business of spiralling crime.

 

Carlos Moreno

“It’s beyond doubt that citizen security weighs quite heavily in the making of business investments and decisions – how much, where, for how long, will those investments be protected, what are the risks? These are major concerns for groups such as the Belize Chamber of commerce and other groups that have echoed those sentiments…the connection between urban crime and the protection of direct foreign and domestic investment in certain areas of the country.”

 

According to Moreno, the US has, and will continue to work with local organizations to enhance the rule of law in the country. Mike Rudon for News Five.

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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1 Response for “Friends of Belize Hosts Business Conference in the Jewel”

  1. Ricky Malthus says:

    The Ambassador is correct in everything he said but failed to mention that the ASR/BSI monopoly is anathema to the rule of law and is an instrument of the oppression and suppression he mentioned. The Ambassador should have tailored his speech to point out that the USA has a Federal law called ” Anti-trust Laws ” which enhances the rule of law and promotes democracy by making it illegal to establish monopolies and prohibits any obstructions of legal free business activities i.e. trade. I hope the political parties understand the message.

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