LAUNCH: Time Come – Put People Back in Democracy!

By Dylan Vernon (TIME COME #1-Launch Post, 29 September 2023, Belize City, Belize).

Like today, 29th September 1950 was also a Friday. It was a momentous day in the struggle of the people of Belize to create a new sovereign democratic state of Central America in the Caribbean region. The People’s Committee, which had led the people’s revolt against British colonialism since 31 December 1949, gave way to Belize’s first national people’s political party: the People’s United Party. With John Smith elected as Party Leader, Leigh Richardson as chairman, George Price as secretary and Philip Goldson as assistant secretary, all Belize’s key nationalist leaders were together that historic September day 73 years ago. The people were with them and they with the people.

A People’s Moment

From the thousands who flocked to public meetings and joined the new party, to the strong union support and to the popular and progressive calls for independence, freedom and justice, it is clear that, for a moment in their political history, Belizean women and men were united and at the center of making democracy.… Read the rest...

Will Belize Get a People’s Constitution? Prospects and Challenges

By Dylan Vernon (PAST WORK #4, first published in IDEAS Voices in the Field on 31 October 2022)

Belize is embarking on its second constitutional review process since independence. While the review has cross-partisan support, preliminary criticisms about the composition of the People’s Constitution Commission, the body entrusted with the review, highlight the challenge of designing a membership approach that is transparent and representative yet manageable. Nevertheless, for the reform process and a potential referendum to succeed, the Commission must see itself not as a body of elite constitutional drafters but as a facilitator of a truly consultative process to ascertain and represent the aspirations of the Belizean people – writes Dr. Dylan Vernon

 Introduction

With the passage of the People’s Constitution Commission Act in October 2022, Belize became the latest Commonwealth Caribbean state to commit to a comprehensive process of constitutional reform.… Read the rest...

High Time for the Republic of Belize

By Dylan Vernon, (PAST WORK #3, 6 March 2022)

Replacing the British monarch with a Belizean head of state should ideally be just one part of a comprehensive process of constitutional reform and nation-building. However, this does not negate the imperative that doing so has its own intrinsic and independent value that goes beyond mere symbolism. It is unfinished decolonisation pure and simple.

THIS coming weekend’s visit of Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge is an opportune reminder of the need to hasten our inevitable transition to the Republic of Belize. It is incredible that 40 years after independence the hereditary monarch of our former imperialist colonizer is still our constitutional head of state. It is a most egregious if symbolic indicator that there is much unfinished business in our decolonization process. The visit is part of the platinum jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II and ostensibly to shore up monarchical sentiment in the Commonwealth Caribbean – especially after Barbados became a republic in November 2021.  … Read the rest...

Political Clientelism and Democracy in Belize: From My Hand to Yours (UWI, 2022)

by Dylan Vernon, (PAST WORK #2, April 2022)

In Political Clientelism and Democracy in Belize: From My Hand to Yours, Dylan Vernon revisits the modern political history of Belize from 1954 to 2013 through the unique analytic lens of the often unspoken but ubiquitous political clientelism, in which politicians provide resources and services to people in return for political support. Presenting Belize as an illustrative and critical case of rampant and damaging political clientelism in the Commonwealth Caribbean, Vernon methodically examines how clientelist politics took root in Belize during the nationalist period and why it expanded exponentially after independence in 1981. He explores and exposes the varied interactions between the widespread day-to-day practices of entrenched clientelist politics, the multiple actors involved and, importantly, the deleterious implications for the quality of democracy and people’s livelihoods. Available from UWI Press, Amazon,  and from Brodies in Belize

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Republic Confusion in Belize

By Dylan Vernon, (PAST WORK #1, March 2022)

OBSERVING debates around whether Belize should become a republic, it’s clear that there is still a deep lack of understanding of the term itself. The tendency in Belize to place a negative spin on the term ‘republic’ persists – due, in part, to the often-ethnocentric association by some Belizeans of ‘republic’ with Latin American autocracies in the last century. 

So What is a Republic?

Let’s leave the other pro and con arguments aside for a minute and ask what really is a republic? In a basic civics class students (should) learn that a republic is a form of government in which the people and their elected representatives hold supreme power. So, monarchies and states that have a monarch as head of state (like Belize) are, by definition, not republics. In 2022, over 75% of all the independent states in the world are republics, including the United States, most of Europe, most of the Commonwealth and all of Latin America.… Read the rest...