Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Paycation or Payscam: Belize’s New Certified Travel Agency

Introduction 

Two weeks ago, I saw that a lady posted on Facebook that she had completed a training to be a Certified Travel Agent. She appeared interested in doing bookings for Belizeans. I was a bit puzzled by this. I would have expected that it’s much more lucrative to book tours for international visitors to Belize than being interest in booking Belizeans out of country. Thinking little of it, I just continued scrolling my Facebook feed.

Certificate received by Belizean

Today, I became suspicious when I saw another Belizean posted that he too had completed a program and is now a Certified Travel Agent. I was compelled to do a little investigation. It turns out the certificate are being issued by a company named Xstream Travel operating out of the United States.

Upon visiting the website, my suspicions become more acute. I am aware of the general features of website scams and this had all of them, reflecting the handiwork of an amateur. It is a basic website with no substantive content about the company and the training. The sole purpose of the website is to lure visitors in. Users must email them to get superficial instructions to become “Certified” which Idid.

I am treating this seriously because it would appear that that a few dozen Belizeans have already signed up to the program. The company recently had some representatives in Belize to recruit new members. They appeared to have done a good job. They got air time (see Open Your Eyes Interview) and we now have Belizeans who claim to be “Executives” of the company.

Blaton Banks - National Expansion Executive on Open Your Eyes

After examining this, I am of the opinion that Xstream Travel and Paycation are scams. Xstream and Paycation, which are managed by David Manning, have saturated the internet with many articles and videos to present themselves positively but careful analysis quickly begins to warning bells.

Warning Bells

You must hear the warning bells ringing when:
  • You are lured into getting rich speeches and promises to travel the world and that if you fail it’s because you did not try hard enough
  • Paycation and Xstream Travel websites have no substantive content about their employees, policies, and training programs.
  • An initial email sent to Xstream Travel <support@xstreamtravel.com> gets you a response from the CEO – the company has no secretary or sales representative? (Emailhere)
  • The certificates issued by Xstream Travel are in italics and not a penned signature (Certificate Received by Belizean)  
  • You are asked to give Paycation about $2,000 BZD a year and get chump change in return for having your friends sign up pay the same to become “Certified Travel Consultants”! (Seeemail correspondence)
  • Paycation has saturated the internet with cheezy content to overwhelm search results with their propaganda (Example 1,  Example 2, Example 3, Example 4)
  • The ‘employees’ don’t know their history and to keep their story straight (Testament 1, Testament 2).
  • The flyer for an international travel agency looks like this (Click here)
  • Representatives are engaged in luring people to other get rich deals (Example 1, Example 2, Example 3, Example 4)
  • 37,000 people have taken the “training course” and none have failed and no pre-job or computer skills are needed (Testament 1, Testament 2)
These are the alarms that ought to be sounding before signing up with Xstream/Paycation. There are also economic mechanisms of how the scam works in the name of multi-level marketing. For this, I recommend looking at the analysis by Ethan Vanderbuilt


Ethan Vanderbuilt opinion on Paycation

I anticipate Belizeans who have registered for this program must really believe in the company. They may have even collected their commission for recruiting others. However, give it some time, and the worst is yet to come, if not for them, for other recruits. 

Besides these ethical complaints, there are also legal dimensions to Paycation operating in Belize. What are the legal requirements and procedures to be a travel agent in Belize? Are they registered? I have requested a response to this question from colleagues at the Belize Tourism Board and will be posting it as soon as it becomes available. 



Recommended article:
Ethan Vanderbuilt (2015). “Paycation Scam? Yes It Is In My Opinion!”. Retrieved from: http://ethanvanderbuilt.com/2015/03/28/paycation-scam-opinion/

Xstream Travel Advanced Agent Training Manual 2013


Friday, June 5, 2015

The BTB Branding: How to Be Eurocentric & Why Not in Belize

It’s been two years since the Belize Tourism Board (BTB) launched the “Discover How to Be” promotional tourism video (“Discover How to Be”, 2013). However, it was until this week that I encountered the video on Facebook and I must express a grave dismay with the production. I would like to call attention to the segment (time slot: 1:11-1:20) which displays the text “be primitive” and “be peculiar” with our Maya archeological sites in the background. The representation of our indigenous heritage and people as “primitive” and “peculiar” is the perpetuation of Eurocentric discourse which facilitated the enslavement and exploitation of indigenous peoples and non-Europeans in general. To allow this representation of Belize for local and international consumption is disrespectful and prejudicial.  


The use of the terms “primitive” and “peculiar” in this context are derived from and are reflective of European colonization, enslavement, and hegemony over non-Europeans. These historical processes established a set of violent terminologies which carried great weight in how Europeans viewed and interacted with non-Westerners.  On the one hand, Europeans were represented as “civilized”, “advanced”, “cultured”, and “intelligent”. On the “Other” hand, we were “savage”, “primitive”, “pagan”, and “barbaric”. It is from this history in which Europeans are announced as “normal”, “developed”, and “civilized” that the phrases “be primitive” and “be peculiar” locates its common-sense appeal, touristic romance, and vulgarity.


Discover How To - "Be Primitive" 

As a post-colonial people, we must be conscious and resistant against the dominant discourses which have disenfranchised us. The use of these terms retrogrades the movement and research that have sought to do away with the Eurocentric representation of our Belizean history and identity (Hyde, 1995; Iyo, 2000; Macpherson, 2007; Shoman, 1994). Couched in a touristic video specifically targeted to an audience who are invited to abandon their “civilized” office jobs, the use of the terms “be primitive – peculiar- native”, have once again made us fall victim to colonial discourse from which we must free ourselves.



It is imperative that the BTB take the necessary actions to rectify this miss-representation of our Belizean people, history, and identity. The longer we allow this video to be displayed on our websites will only increase the normalization and promotion of a Eurocentric view of Belize. Students, teachers, tour-guides, and academics should play a key role in ensuring that our social networks are sensitized about such representations which do not do justice to our self-image as a nation.  


Rolando Cocom





References:

Hyde, E. X. (1995). X communication: Selected writings.  Belize City, Belize: Angelus Press.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Belize Recieves Leadership Training for Social and Environmental Justice

The Belize Institute of Environmental Law and Policy (BELPO) held its first Leadership Training for Social and Environmental Justice for young adults from August 15-17, 2014. 

BELPO partnered with the Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide (ELAW) and the Centre for Creative Leadership (CCL) to create a leadership program to act as a beginning for a non-partisan and non-sectarian way forward for striving for social justice and protecting the natural resources of Belize for present and future generations.



The training program sought to encourage 15 future leaders to work for social and environmental justice issues by helping them see their own potential for change in Belize.  This involved demonstrating that they can choose to make a difference based upon their own ideas and plans. 

These dedicated young adults spent 2½ days at duPlooys Jungle Lodge and Resort (Cayo) increasing their leadership capacity by developing more self-awareness, creativity, problem-solving and collaboration skills.

One participant said “When one thinks of a Social and Environmental Justice Leadership Training what tends to pop into mind is hours upon hours of boring power point lectures that seem to ramble on; however, nothing was further from the truth”.

Another said, “I woke up Friday morning not all too excited about the days ahead.... Don't get me wrong, I was grateful for being accepted to participate in the Belize Institute of Environmental Law and Policy's Leadership training for Environmental and Social Justice but it was a lot different than what I had expected...”

They experienced a different approach to learning and leadership.  Through thought provoking discussions and activities they deepened their awareness of themselves, other participants and the environmental and social justice challenges we are facing.

One participant echoes the feelings of many:  “Fast forward the next two and a half days - the interactive, frustrating and thought provoking games; the sleepless and fun nights socializing (Which surprisingly contributed a lot to what we had learnt during the formal day sessions); the finding of one's self and how to channel that as young leaders; the surprising realization of one's core values, their strengths and weaknesses...

We all emerged as the same group of people working to change Belize and the world but with rekindled fire, fueled by solidified passion, wisdom and friendship... This certainly wasn't the lectured session I had expected… feeling of being surrounded by some of the most insightful BELIZEAN young people I've ever met.”

And another:  “What started out as a group full of strangers from all walks of life ended with a deep inner sense of community, connectivity and inspiration.”

BELPO seeks to create a model that will establish a new standard for leadership development for young adults that will be duplicated across Belize. 

The traditional view of leadership is about accumulating money and material things.  We aim to change that view, to move away from practicing individual leadership to practicing collaborative leadership that transcends religious and political party affiliation.

This is a path forward for a better Belize and a better world.

Press Release by:
The Belize Institute of Environmental Law and Policy (BELPO)
P.O. Box 105, San Ignacio Town, Cayo District, Belize
Phone: +501- 824-2476   | email:  belpo.belize(at)gmail.com
Website:  https://www.belpo.org/    

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Fiji’s Elections 2014: From “Fiji for Fijians” to “We are all Fijians”

Introduction

The use of the term “Fijian” as a label for national identification remains a significant ideological frame in the run up for elections to be held on September 17, 2014.

By ideological frame, I refer to the fact that phrase “We are all Fijians” is represented by an array of inter-related set of stories, symbols, images, as well as rhetoric in an attempt  to define and provide reasons as to why the public should or should not vote for a political party. This ideology is represented as the highest maxim of social equality. It is used to justify, maintain, and increase popular support for the Fiji First Party.

This is visible in the media, where political candidates are often asked to take a position on this issue. The premise is that if we know the candidate’s position on this, we will know their core political values and vision for Fiji. Those who are hesitant to support ‘Fijian’ as a common-term or ‘national identity’ are explicitly and implicitly cued to be proponents of disunity and inequality.

Fiji or Viti

It is said that when the Europeans had asked the Tongans for the name of islands we now know as Fiji, they provided them with the term Viti. It follows that the terms ‘Fiji’ and ‘Fijian’ arose out of a mispronunciation of the word Viti. Colonialism inaugurated the emergence of a collective ‘Fijian race’ or the Taukei Kei Viti or Kai Viti, which loosely translates into ‘the owners of Fiji land’ and ‘persons from Fiji’ respectively. Prior to this, identification was primarily based on one’s birth and kinship connections in a vanua or mataqali among distinct communities/confederacies and not as a collective ‘Fijian race’.

There were diverse pronunciations and spellings of Fiji such as “Beetee, Fegee, Fejee, Fidjee, Fidje, Fidgee, Fidschi, Fiji, Feigee, Vihi, Viji, and Viti” (Williams & Calvert, 1859, p. 1). However, Fiji and Fijian became commonly used in the colonial state to refer to the land and the ‘natives’.

Coups and Fiji for Fijians

These labels “Fiji/Fijian” are not in themselves the problem or the solution to ethnic-relations in Fiji. The problem is the actions of elitist alliances and the practice of racial ethno-nationalism which have instilled divisive values and practices to these classifications. Colonial policy and the coup makers through their use of these categories have established the social boundaries between the two ‘races’.  To the Fijians, the Indians were to be known as the vulagi (foreigner). To the Indians, the Fijians were to be known as the jungalis (jungle people). This is not to say that there are no cultural differences between the two but that the state plays a crucial role in how these differences are viewed, expressed, and lived.

Support for the 1987 and 2000 coup was summoned precisely on a form of oppositional categorization from the colonial period. It featured arguments to ‘protect’ the taukei (owners of the land), lotu (Christian religious beliefs), and the vanua (land and groupings), which were supposedly endangered. The mobilizing theme was the protection of Fijian interests with “Fiji for Fijians” as a rallying motto.

We Are All Fijians

Unlike the previous coups in 1987 and 2000 which were executed under the ideological banner of “Fiji for Fijians”, Bainimarama has been able to popularize the idea that his governance represents true democracy with the motto “We are all Fijians” and “Fiji for all Fijians”.  Bainimarama, who was the commander of the Fijian army at the time, accused the Quarse government of election fraud and took control of government in 2006.

Since then, Bainimarama has conducted a widespread media campaign that emphasizes “We are all Fijians”. In 2010, he issued a decree stating that the indigenous peoples should be officially known as the iTaukei and that all other citizens should be known as Fijians. He also issued many other decrees proclaiming that his actions are in the best interest of all citizens, such as dismantling the Great Council of Chiefs. The “We are all Fijians” has become the common-sense lens from which to positively interpret and justify past and future actions of the Bainimarama regime.    

The issue of a common-name is linked to the efforts of the National Federation Party (NFP) which was the first party to advocate for a common-roll and a common name for citizens prior to Fiji’s independence. However, at the time, Fijian politicians and intellectuals argued that such actions would be disastrous for Fijian identity and culture. Therefore, such proposals were never approved.
Bainimarama has been able to re-articulate this ideology at a time when no other message would have worked in his favor. He could not rely on the ideology of Fijian paramountcy (‘Fiji for Fijians’) because this was what the Quarse government was employing. Quarse was implementing policies which were designed to establish the dominance of Fijians in areas such as the economy, education, and the public service. Bainimarama employed the ideology of ‘ending racism’ and of ‘moving Fiji forward’ to gain local and international support for his dismissal of Quarse, whom he had originally appointed after the 2000 coup.  

Through this re-articulated ideology, Bainimarama has sought to downplay the fact that he came to power illegally, that he has violated the constitution, and that he has been unaccountable over the years (e.g. why will the Auditor General Reports be issued until after the elections?). He has been able to do this because he commanded the military and because he is phenotypically Fijian. The ideology of “We are all Fijians” is the emotional and symbolic glue which holds the Bainimarama regime together. It has resounded with approval among some segments of populace including key public figures as it represents the idea of civic equality and nationality unity.

In March of this year, Bainimarama announced the formation of his political party called the “Fiji First Party”, a name which was designed to promote this ideological theme. His initial 2006 promise to have returned to the barracks after establishing mechanisms for a stable democracy has now been pushed aside. He now aims to gain official support for his governance in the run up for elections. He has exercised several key social reforms and media campaigns to this end: free education policy; reform of scholarship scheme to be based on merit; rural development projects; creation of a new constitution, and appears to have de-facto control of Fiji’s mainstream media.

We Are All Fijians, But Who Are You

The counter ideological frames of the other parties contesting election are based on human rights and liberal democratic discourses. They argue that the Bainimarama regime has proven to be unaccountable, unjust, and undemocratic.

For instance, the Social Democratic Liberal Party (SODELPA) argues that Bainimarama’s imposition of a common-name is against the indigenous rights and culture. They hold that ‘Fijian’ must be the official name for the indigenous peoples. This argument bears the traces of the ‘Fiji for Fijians’ ideology as it merges past members and support from the pro-indigenous campaign of the Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua (SDL) party, founded by Quarse in 2001. It supplements its ideological power by calling on the international convention of indigenous rights which asserts the right of indigenous people to protect their ‘identity’. Their ideological goal is to ‘reclaim’ Fijian cultural institutions and democracy. In this regard, this ideological frame is geared towards gaining massive Fijian support.  

Another major party contesting the elections is the National Federation Party (NFP). And while it is likely that the NFP remains committed to idea that ‘Fijian’ is the best common name for civic unity, given the political situation, they have chosen to inform the public that this should be done through democratic process and not by a military regime. They argue that the regime had no legal democratic authority to employ this term for the citizenry. They prefer to take the matter up for public consultation which demonstrates its respect for law in a democracy and their empathy to dialogue with the indigenous peoples. This underscores NFP ideological frame of liberal democracy, equality and respect to all the citizens and in so doing encourage voters to support them and not Fiji First which has been a dictatorship.

The NFP in my opinion is the best of the political parties. Their track record shows that they have always argued for equal representation, respect and compromise with the indigenous community, and would properly lead Fiji towards democratic stability and sound economic growth.

However, there is a need for the NFP to insert themselves more radically in the “We are Fijians” ideology. “We are Fijians” must be dis-articulated and re-articulated in ways which demonstrate their commitment to equality, national unity, and gain popular support. They should emphasize the fact that by and large the populace continues to use the terms like Indians and Fijians in the everyday life, and that it is okay to use Fijian as a marker of national collectivity as well as a marker to refer to the indigenous people. They should also devise strategies which can build on the desire for national unity in more creative ways. For example, they may pledge to have a day of national inter-cultural festivities, which will exhibit shared and unique cultural practices from all of Fiji cultures not just Indian and Fijian cultures. They should organize a group of singers or actors from diverse ethnic backgrounds to create songs and dramas for their campaign. They may also consider a proposition to modify the constitution to insert a clause which declares Fiji a multi-religious state versus a secular state. In order words, they must present themselves with a more impressive strategy and symbols of national unity than the Bainimarama’s “We are Fijians” campaign.

Conclusion

It would appear that Bainimarama has been successful in the public sphere as far as this ideological device of “We are all Fijians” is concerned. Journalists and the media in general have consistently disapproved of any politician who disagrees with the use of Fijian as a common label. Those who disagree with Bainimarama’s “We are all Fijians” are casted as promoters of racial division and ‘returning Fiji to the politics of old times’.  

There are no guarantees that the policies of the Bainimarama government which one may interpret as progressive will in effect create a stable multicultural Fiji. The regime’s hegemonic governance has come at the cost of media censorship, unaccounted economic practices, political corruption, and human rights violations as documented by the alternative media and civil society reports. The illegal actions of Bainimarama are overlooked by Fiji First supporters who encourage the public to realize that the nation has finally achieved a ‘national identity’ and to observe the infrastructure development taking place (never mind its unsustainability).

For some of the populace, the ideology of “We are all Fijians” is a positive step towards national unity. For others, it is as a threat to Fijian identity.  And still for others, it is an illegal change with no material rewards. Going into the election, political mobilization will depend on which party can create a positive and dominant ideological representation of their party. So far Fiji First appears to have the upper hand because it has dominated the public sphere and has complemented this ideology with recent infrastructure development. For better or for worse, the “We are all Fijians” motto has a wide appeal and I wouldn’t be surprised if Bainimarama wins the election. But I also wouldn’t be happy; … maybe I’ll be content, but not happy.

By Rolando Cocom

Also follow the discussion at: 

Croz Walsh's Blog, Fiji: The way it was, is and can be

Fiji Today Blog 

References

Derrick, R. A. (1950). A history of Fiji (Vol. 1). Suva: Stationery Department.
Kelly, J. D. (1995). Threats to Difference in Colonial Fiji. Cultural Anthropology, 10(1), 64-84. doi: 10.2307/656231
Lal, B. V. (Ed.). (2004). Bittersweet: The Indo-Fijian experience. Australia: Pandanus Books.
Lal, B. V. (2013). The strange career of Commodore Frank Bainimarama’s 2006 Fiji coup. Paper presented at the State, Society and Governance in Melanesia, Australia. Retrieved Sep 8, 2014, from http://ips.cap.anu.edu.au/publications/strange-career-commodore-frank-bainimaramas-2006-fiji-coup
Naidu, V. (2013). Fiji: the challenges and opportunities of diversity. Suva: Minority Rights Group International.
Narsey, W. (2012). Fijians, I-Taukei, Indians and Indo-Fijians: Name changes by military decree. Pacific Media Centre.  Retrieved Nov 8, 2013, from http://www.pmc.aut.ac.nz/articles/fijians-i-taukei-indians-and-indo-fijians-name-changes-military-decree
Narsey, W. (2012). Choosing between the Military and the Rule of Law. Wadan Narsey on Fiji.  Retrieved Sep 8, 2014, from http://narseyonfiji.wordpress.com/2014/08/24/choosing-between-the-military-and-the-rule-of-law-part-i-21-august-2014/
Rakuita, T. (2007). Living by bread alone: Contemporary challenges associated with Identity and belongingness in Fiji. Suva: Ecumenical Centre for Research, Education and Advocacy.
Ratuva, S. (2002). Participation for Peace: A study of inter-ethnic and inter-religious perception in Fiji. Suva: Ecumenical Centre for Research Education and Advocacy.
Robertson, R. T. (1998). Multiculturalism & Reconciliation in an Indulgent Republic: Fiji After the Coups, 1987-1998. Suva: Fiji Institute of Applied Studies.
Seemann, B. (1862). Viti: An account of a government mission to the Vitian or Fijian Islands, in the years 1860-61. London: Macmillan.
Williams, T., & Calvert, J. (1859). Fiji and the Fijians: D. Appleton and Company.

Similar Belizean Minds Posts: 


Monday, July 14, 2014

Perspectives on the Belizean Status Quo: A commentary on “Stasis in Belize”

During my study of Belizean history at the University of Belize, we often talked about “why are things the way they are? And how can we make a change?

In our history sessions, Professor Iyo would often make reference to “stasis” as a way of understanding the Belizean status quo (i.e. the existing state of affairs). As his students, he would recommend that we read his co-authored paper with Michael Rosberg entitled: “Theoretical Perspectives on the Stasis of Class Relations in the Caribbean: the Belize Case Study”.

I recall that Prof. Iyo would employ two analogies to introduce us to the concept of stasis. He once drew a spiral on the board. A spiral he would remark is a gradually progressing curve which emanates from a central point. For the spiral to take shape, it encircles the path of its previous inscription. Therefore, the spiral has a directional flow but it is non-linear, gradual and apparently redundant.

The second analogy, he often used, was comparing stasis to the movement of the earth. The earth sits on an axis. It gradually spins, completing its axial rotation and revolution, only to do so again and again. 

Like the earth and the spiral, the Belizean society has been moving (changing) but has been constrained by an axial positioning which is theorized as the economic mode/relations of production (e.g. slavery; relationship between ‘master and slave’ or capitalism; relationship between employer and employees).

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, stasis is “a state of static balance or equilibrium; a state or period of stability during which little or no evolutionary change in a lineage occurs”.

As a theoretical construct, stasis is an approach to understanding why there has been little or no change to benefit the masses. It allows us to conceptualize “why the more things change – the more they remain the same”. 

Stasis then is both a description of a complex and changing social formation (society) and also a specific approach of analyzing the formation (by analyzing historical periods, party politics, education system, etc.).  

The thesis put forth is that both social structures (e.g. legal, educational, religious, political, economic institutions) and social actors (e.g. Belizeans participation in ‘Wednesday Clinic’, support of the PUP/UDP, participation in PUP/UDP rhetoric) contribute to stasis, where the mode of production (e.g. slavery, capitalism) plays a crucial role.

‘Stasis’ is informed by the theoretical perspectives of functionalism (E. Durkheim) and conflict theory (K. Marx). The functionalist perspective holds that each social sphere (religious, education, symbolic, cultural, etc.) exists in a formation  (society) to contribute to social cohesion and stability. Durkheim is said to have made the analogy that society is an organism. In this line of reasoning, society is the creation of something that is beyond the individual. Indeed, religion, language, party politics, and cultural forms, all exist prior to our individual existence. We enter (i.e. are born or migrate in) a society where the division of party politics, ethnic stereotypes, religious denominationalism, political victimization, clientelism, etc., exists as ‘social facts’ (taken for granted norms). It is suggested that through the process of ‘socialization’ we come to accept and re-enact these social facts.  


In the conflict perspective, there is the belief that a social formation (society) is fundamentally structured by the mode of production (e.g. enslavement, wage-labor, service-labor). In this scenario, the previously listed ‘social facts’ are treated as ideologies which facilitate a notion of ‘false consciousness’ that limits the masses from openly observing their economic oppression (e.g. education limits critical thinking, party politics discourages unity, religion discourages political activism). It is hypothesized that not until the masses become conscious of their exploitation will there be the possibility of change. The masses must gain control of the means of production (land and industries) to alter the mode of production which would lead to changes in the superstructure. (Note: This is a classical interpretation of Marxism, which does not reflect the depth of Marx’s writings. Additionally, religion, education, like other ideologies/philosophical domains can become forces of resistance). 

It is argued that the formation of modern Belize has been the result of various socio-political hegemonic impositions, resistances, and changes which have occurred in the periods of slavery, post-slavery colonialism, and post-colonialism. This includes the introduction, resistance, and abolition of slavery; population growth; migratory movements; establishment and resistance to colonial governance; wage labor resistances; the formation of self-government; the institutionalization of education; and the expansion of capitalist practices and institutions, among many others. 

The dominant political parties in Belize (the PUP &UDP) both enunciate that their respective parties are the solution to Belizean status quo (i.e. the solution to stasis). They persuasively propagate that the current status quo is due to the mismanagement of either the previous or current government in power, depending on which casts the blame on the other.

In the past decades, there has been increased poverty, unemployment, and limited opportunities to land, higher education, and health-care for most of the population. This has contributed to consequential effects such as the high rates of crime, low economic productivity, and an increasingly higher cost of living. And despite the fact that both parties have failed to change the status quo, there remains a high-support for these political parties. These are fundamental contradictions of contemporary Belize.

The persistence of social inequality and the lack of social change is said to be the result of an underlining mode of production which has remained concentrated in the hands of a few. In each historical period (slavery, post-colonial slavery, and post-colonialism), it is said that only the ‘names’ have changed while the ‘game’ remained the same. Using the analogy of the earth, the axis on which Belize rotates has been the mode of production which privileged the colonial elites and the emergent upper class since independence.

But why do significant inequalities persist? It is argued that resistances have only occurred when Belizeans gained consciousness of the unequal opportunities given to them. It is asserted that the masses and the elites are currently gaining sufficient advantages which “prevent either side [from] opting for change”.

On the one hand, there is the claim that institutions in Belize are conditioning social actors (Belizeans) in such ways which prevent them from challenging the social order. This is the functionalist perspective of their approach. Religion, education, colonial legacies, party politics, and clientelism, among others, are institutions which encourage collective or normative behaviors which keep the elite in power.
  
On the other hand, there is the claim that social actors are purposively gaining sufficient benefits in the present state of affairs.  For example, Belizeans are said to be satisfied with the patronage (monies) given to them to support the PUP/UDP.  There are “powerful and immediate incentives and constraints which make it more logical to resist change than embrace it” both for the masses and elites. In this line of reasoning, the individual is viewed as a rational being who calculates that it is better to accept the social inequalities versus resisting or that it is better to join the elites versus fighting against them (if possible, e.g. the support of the media, civil servants, professionals of the PUDP).

Stasis is a viable and insightful socio-historical tool to conceptualize the Belizean experience. It provides an illustrative and analytic account of the role of historical factors and ongoing social actions of Belizeans in the production and reproduction of social-inequality.

However, it offered little analysis on the ways in which ‘stasis’ can be disrupted or transformed. The possibilities of change were ultimately conceived in a classical Marxist fashion: it is not until there are severe economic conditions that Belizeans will advocate for change. While the authors did recognize that harsh economic conditions do not necessarily cause a resistance, it was the common argument for future possibilities of change in Belize.

But why should we wait for economic conditions to become worst? If society is the creation of human actions, why shall we assume that things will get better in the long run? And why should we leave it to future generations to transform it? And what guarantee do we have that they will do so?

Future analysis of ‘stasis’ must involve an examination of the ‘identity’ of the Belizean elite and masses: Who are the Belizean elites? Are the elites a unified ‘class’? How does an individual become an elite? Are the masses a unified ‘underclass’ submerged in ‘false consciousness’? Are there any current ideologies (nationalism, multiculturalism, communism, human rights) which can be re-articulated to mobilize Belizeans? What alliances can be made between academics and activists? These are some of the questions we may begin to ask to further the perspective of ‘stasis’ and stimulate a project of political re-thinking and activism in Belize.

Philosophers have hitherto only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it. – Karl Marx. 

References:

Iyo, Joseph and Rosberg, Michel. (2002). Theoretical Perspectives on the stasis of class relations in the Caribbean: the Belizean case study. The Belize Country Conference. UWI. Retrieved July 10, 2014, from http://www.open.uwi.edu/sites/default/files/bnccde/belize/conference/paperdex.html

Stasis. (n.d.). Retrieved July 10, 2014, from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/stasis