Head of the class


By Jamil Matar
It still confounds me how my district managed to skyrocket to the head of the class with respect to the number of positive Covid-19 cases. Before I venture my opinion, I had better clarify that my views are personal and are not in any way linked to any sentiment of the National Oversight Committe (NOC). You see, I fear misinterpretation from a specific news outlet, because when it comes to distorting words or statements, the Times, like a certain world leader, is Sui Generis.
Last week, when OW first topped the charts, social media was ablaze with the blame game. Some faulted the PM, others, the Director of Health Services, and lastly, a great handful of bookers placed full liability on border jumpers, ergo the Police Department. All of these are misplaced culpability, I think. Firstly, the PM’s primary responsibility is to captain our country through this social and economic storm, not to singlehandedly confront it. To keep with the same metaphor, it was expected that individual citizens would batten their own hatches, by wearing masks and practicing good hand hygiene, among other safeguards. As to the Director of Health Services, his role is limited to offer recommendations to mitigate the contagion; he cannot be on the streets and in homes scrutinizing observance to the Ministry of Health guidelines. As for border jumpers, I have to ask, who is sparing the residents of Santa Cruz, the infamous hot spot, from manifesting a swell of cases? Lastly, the Police are simply overwhelmed with this multidimensional challenge. Here are some of their novel responsibilities introduced by Covid-19: a) monitor social distancing and mask wearing, b) guard against illegal border crossings, c) screen bus terminals and passengers, d) safeguard quarantined homes and facilities, e) invigilate curfew hours, f) protect themselves and their families from the virus and g) attend to their normal crime fighting duties. Wow! Yet they still manage to perform! I will give you an example.
My neighbor told me a story about a loud bawling outside his fence at midnight this Sunday past. When he peeped out, one man was lashing another with the broadside of a machete. He shouted to the attacker to cool off, to which the attacker shouted back that the victim “come far fu thief”. The neighbor informed the attacker that he was calling the police so he had about five more minutes to continue teaching the burglar a lesson. The police came, to the relief of the crook, within the five-minute interlude. Let me now continue with my discourse.
The indignation from some in the BLU corner that OW should be locked down, vis-à-vis San Pedro, does not bear logic to me. If you analyze the spread of the virus over the entire area of our district, it is largely dispersed. In addition, the active cases now appear to be on the downward trend. However, as a people I think we are still stubborn; we keep wearing our faces masks like Roy Rogers, below the chin.
The closing of the bars and the night curfew will undoubtedly bring down our numbers fast. The virus will pass. They all eventually do.
One thing the virus does not seem to dampen is the political climate in OW. It is as high as the mercury reading. While personally I would be pleased with another UDP term, I think that whatever political fate lies in store for us in November, our country has benefitted greatly in terms of impressive infrastructural development over the past 12 years. Most importantly, the territorial dispute over Belize may soon be put to rest, and we can then enjoy unfettered industrial investment in the future. Our biggest fear as Belizeans is that with a PUP victory, there will be retrenchment of public officers, and our national assets sold once again. God bless our country in this our month of deep nationalism. Stay safe, my fellow Orange Walkeños!