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Feb 23, 1998

Civil Society presents “People?s Manifesto”

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It’s called the people’s manifesto and it was created by a number of civil society organizations after nationwide consultations. The manifesto consists of eighteen specific commitments spread over the five key areas of political reform, social and economic justice, education, land and youth empowerment. While the recommendations, which focus on greater political participation and increased access, are broad enough to encompass almost any political philosophy, they were presented to the political parties, who have been asked to look them over and incorporate them into their respective manifestoes. News Five’s Stewart Krohn spoke to a few of the people involved in the document’s drafting.

Therese Elijio

“The movement of the civil society is actually a movement that signifies the changes that are taking place in Belize.”

Gaspar Martinez

“The history of, in the past have been specific in terms of its agenda. It’s either agriculture or health or education, preschool. And now the N.G.O.’s are looking at themselves in a different perspective. The N.G.O.?s think that it is time to, to mobilize the civil society, the people on a whole and to be active participants in any future development that will occur in the country.”

Ismael Shabazz

“One of the problem ah, the politicians’ problem is that they become too partisan and therefore the needs of the people are not met proper.”

Anthea Mariano

“Our intention is to get youths more involved in decisions that are made in this country, right. We plan to educate them about the parliament… about the, about ahm, trade agreements about whatever is happening. You have youths who don’t listen to news, who are not involved. Some of them of them didn’t come up and speak. That is what we want to do – get youths involved. In getting youths involved then they cannot be ignored by the politicians, by the government, by elders.”

Dennis Jones

“For too long we’ve taken the position that policies, programs have to originate from political parties. In any democracy any group that is organized, that wishes to put forth its point of view will be heard and therefore we feel that there are various interest that must put forward. And if we have a broad cross section of people, as Therese said earlier, representing this broad range of views it will definitely have a much wider scope and possibility of participation than the narrower interest of political parties which seek more so to perpetuate their parties in power than really deal with the disadvantages of our broad national development.”

Q: “Couldn’t just the opposite be said: A politician is at least elected by thousands of people. Who elected Dennis Jones?”

Dennis Jones

“Well not because I am not elected means that I do not have a stake in what in what goes on in this country. And because my organization represents people who produce in the rural sector I believe their views must be heard, their views must be carried to our politicians and our politicians must be accountable to us generally whether we are organized as organizations or individuals.”

The Secretaries General of both the U.D.P. and P.U.P. as well as representatives of other parties were on hand to receive the document. All promised to give the manifesto careful study.


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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