By Jamil Matar
In the early eighties when I was a union delegate representing the BWU at the NTUCB (the National Trade Union Congress of Belize), I would usually find myself in committee with the stern Ms. Cynthia Pitts, the late Mr. Abiud Zetina, and the talkative but experienced Mr. George Frazer. Mr. Zetina, like most Corozaleños, was a person who enjoyed telling a good joke, which often put him at odds with the stoic but intelligent Ms. Pitts. It is from the latter that I learnt the phrase in my heading. Whenever Abiud would make flippant remarks in meetings, Miss Pitts would firmly state “I will not dignify that comment with a response”.
An opinion in a local newspaper suggested that the recent comment made by President Trump about “sh_thole” countries probably included Belize because of our corrupt Government. If that inference is pertinent, imagine what the description would have been if Mr. Trump had been familiar with the Government of 1998- 2008!
Witticism aside, though, I am happy that our government completely disregarded the coarse reference to struggling third world countries (in the past, the favorite adjectival phrase was “banana republics”). Any other course of action by GOB would have undoubtedly legitimized Mr. Trump’s comment and robbed us of our dignity. Since I do not represent our government in any capacity, I can unabashedly state that while I respect the American people for their remarkable successes, both in infrastructural and military accomplishments, my little Belize remains an exquisite jewel to me, and I have no itch to live anywhere else but here. I do not want to come across as being gooey, but that is my truth, brothers and sisters.
For all our administrative faults, we do care for each other as a people. A living experience yesterday, Tuesday October 1, impressed me to pen this article to highlight a small but significant aspect of our culture, which does not mesh with being “sh_thole”. I had to visit the NRH and was bowled to note how many people were present to seek free medical attention. I do not know if you recall, but a couple years back, a PUP klutz here in OW attempted to stage a demonstration to protest “poor treatment” at the NRH. Guess what? The demonstration flopped worse than Sulph’s minimum wage gathering at Memorial Park, if that is even possible! You know why? The caregivers at the Northern Regional Hospital, even as they are overcome with work each and every single day, came across as being composed and compassionate with all their patients. They truly are hard-working Belizeans. No bull, trust me on that one.
By Jamil Matar