The City of Belmopan was the host municipality for the official Independence Day address. This has become the tradition for several years now and has given the current and past Mayors of that municipality the chance to address the nation. The official ceremony, having only twenty invited guests and security details in attendance began just after ten o’clock yesterday morning. Several pre-recorded cultural presentations and tributes were played as the Government of Belize Press Office and other major news outlets carried the ceremony via live broadcast. With Belmopan being the official venue, Mayor Khalid Belisle was listed as one of the day’s speakers. Just like Prime Minister Dean Barrow, Mayor Belisle delivered his final Independence Day address as he too is stepping out of electoral politics. Unlike the two political party leaders, Belisle placed politics aside and focused primarily on the future of Belize and its strength to cope. Covid-19 was an unavoidable topic as it remains on the forefront of all countries and industries. Belisle spoke on what he viewed as proud moments throughout the Covid-19 fight.
Mayor Khalid Belisle, Mayor of Belmopan City: “This past year might make you wonder if you have been cast back into the old testament of the bible or question whether we are in the prophesied end of days. From locust swarms not seen in generations to wild fire, torrential rain and storm development at their highest recorded levels all over the globe. The steady stream of unfolding calamities reads like a Sunday school lesson or an excerpt from the book of revelation. This is all of course before coming to a new found precedence, this novel coronavirus which has swept across the world upending our way of life, turning the global economy on its head and leaving in its wake a mix of disruption and despair on the one hand counterbalanced by determination and dedication to it’s defeat on the other. I like most Belizean adults have heard numerous times in jest that when the US sneezes Belize catches the cold. Well it was no laughing matter on that March morning when the country was advised that our bullet dodging days are over and that COVID-19 had finally been detected within our borders. I think all rational folk knew it was bound to turn up eventually but I doubt very many of us realized the extent of its eventual and continuing impact on each individual, our families, our communities and this land of ours. And so it was that we entered the fray that is the fight of our lifetimes. Observing the first few weeks of the effort to contain, to push back this new beast in our midst was fascinating and frightening all at the same time. For myself, and I would expect most if maybe with the exception of the hyperpartisan, it was a proud occasion to see the leaders of our country the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition put party politics where it rightly belongs on the back burner and come together such that our response was truly a joint and national effort drawing from the best among us with the only agenda that matters in times like this at the fore and acting like a north star of sorts. I am fairly certain none would look back and say things went perfectly and errors weren’t made along the way but all in all I am convinced that the efforts of those at the helm and the teams around them will be remembered as having been equal to if not better than the test placed before them. Our cherished democracy’s mettle must once again be tested in a few short weeks and while we we are only but six or so months removed the glory days of our political leaders pouring each other water amidst the feelings of kumbaya in the face of an existential threat are now clearly behind us and I contend inevitably so. Politics is after all a contact sport and in drawing the contrasts that each hopes will separate them from the competition things tend to get a little tryst and at time worse. Still I would hope for the sake of all of us that once the dust settles and the will of the people is reflected in the election result that appear which forms the end of this year’s celebrations theme would come to hold true and that Belizeans would indeed unite for prosperity.”
Among the tributes played during yesterday’s ceremony was one to the four Belize Defence soldiers who lost their lives in a helicopter crash on February 28. As we noted there were four soldiers but in yesterday’s ceremony NICH made a blunder and had apparently excluded one of the pilots in the tribute. It was a notable mistake that had the Mistress of Ceremony Annmarie Williams apologizing for the error.
Ann Marie Williams, Mistress of Ceremonies: “And just to say for those of you listening at home in particular one of the soldiers Major Adran Ramirez was inadvertently left out of the video and so we want you all to know if you’re listening at home and particularly the families that we’ll be repeating it it in its entirety just before we do the cultural presentation this morning.”
Later in the ceremony, an amendment was made and Major Adran Ramirez was included in the video tribute. The other tribute which was brief and seemingly a quick production was for the Right Honorable Said Musa who too is retiring from electoral politics in a few weeks.