Saturday, August 7, 2010

The economy in Belize

Rene's family is pretty much a typical,Belizean family. They have four boys and three girls, all grown. The girls live near, with their families. The boys all are building little houses on Rene's property for future families. The problem is that there are so few jobs. Only two of the boys are currently employed. Carlos has to go to Placencia where he can still find a job as a plumber. Delio is a cook at a local restaurant. The other two boys keep visiting places in San Ignacio, but find that most labor type jobs are taken by Guatemalan's, who work cheaper. Sound familiar? They couldn't afford to send any of their kids on for more education past the elementary level, so none have specific training.

Belize desperately needs jobs. There's so much labor here, begging for work. It's hard to support a family on an occasional job of chopping at $35BZ per day. We hear of so many grants to Belize from foreign countries, but it seems that most of that gets siphoned off to personal pockets or to a group defined as politically correct at the time. We don't see much of it actually helping anyone.

We've heard of several projects that sound as tho' they'd be successful, but they don't actually come to fruition. An American tried to get a potato chip factory built, but couldn't finance. There's been talk of a tomato processing facility, which really makes sense as tomatoes do grow here quite well, but that hasn't happened either. Small plants located around the country to process cohune nuts for oil would make a lot of sense too, but they also seem to just be talk.

In the meantime, the GST is now 12.5%, which is putting so many folks to their knees. This to pay, in part, for a boondoggle left by the Musa government of millions of dollars of debt for a hospital in Belize City, that the everyday folks can't even afford to visit.

We keep our feelings mostly to ourselves, as we've been told that as Retired Persons, we are only here as glorified tourists and then only if we continue to bring in US dollars.

I guess I sound discouraged here, and in a way I am. The whole world seems to be suffering from a lethargy for lack of money. The rich keep raking it in, while the middle class has disappeared, leaving nothing but the poor. Whoever said that "money can't buy happiness" was never poor. It can buy relief from worry about how to feed your family or pay your taxes or keep a roof over your head,or pay for the medical help that only seems to be for the wealthy.

Most of the Gringos that we know down here are in much the same place as we are. By Belize standards we appear rich, but in actuality, we're just hanging on too. We are just lucky that, after 50 years of working, we have a property and a decent roof over our heads. Just pray that we find that bottom surfer price for our place in Oregon, so it will sell and we can survive. Even a cup of coffee isn't doing it for me today. Maybe a piece of Betty's chocolate pie will help my mood! Bummer, can't get down the hill. Maybe I'll bake cookies instead.

What a world, what a world!

1 comment:

sandy a. said...

i feel just like you do sometimes, not just when we are down here (because poverty is so apparent here), but also when I am in the States and see people living in run down shacks in rural Arkansas (where we live). the difference between here (Belize) and there is that in the US there is social welfare, and here there is not. People can rail against the welfare system in the US, but if it wasnt in place, then it would be just like Belize for the most part. People in the US don't want to see extreme poverty, btu they bitch about welfare. Makes no sense.
I often feel guilty about the fact that I was born into a society where opportunity abounds and I was intelligent enough to seize it, therefore making a really good life for myself. My husband was born in Morocco, but his parents had the good fortune to be able to move to Canada when he was quite young, affording him the opportunites that I enjoyed in America.
It's quite sad here, but I dont know what can be done about it. Fell good though, knowing that by bringing your American dollars here you are helping, albeit it on a small scale.