Attorney-at-Law, Lisa Shoman is a Belizean woman who has played the role of an Ambassador, a Senator and Cabinet Minister among others. She is a well-known member of the People’s United Party and is known to be very vocal on social media when it comes to politics and governance issues. Today, she was a guest on The Morning Show where she spoke on various matters; one of them being the troubles with politics and governance. While she is politically affiliated, Shoman says she has seen where the public has become tired of the political rhetoric and where poverty is even more evident today.
“It’s not the politics that is the problem it is the partisanship, politicians are politicians they are people like anybody else and the real issue is that we are at a moment in the world where there is a lot of fear, there is a lot of uncertainty, economic stability doesn’t seem to be within the reach of a huge number of countries particularly in the Caribbean, we are all nervous and concerned and worried about the future, this is the year in which preferential tariffs disappear so we are going to have to get there on our own now, on our own merit and for years and years we said to European countries that they have to give us a break because they really did us a number when it came to colonization and decolonization, they left us in a bad state and therefore you have to give us a hand to get ourselves to where we need to be so we can be self sustainable. I don’t know that we have used that time wisely but we got the time and it was about ten years because I remember clearly as Foreign Minister being at the tail end of those negotiations and discussions so we got the time, what have we done with the time? And I think this is where we are right now that there is a lot of uncertainty and a lot of fear and a lot of rising poverty, rising inequity and inequality by which I mean the rich are getting richer, the poor are getting poorer and there are more people who are exceedingly marginal. I don’t have to tell you this is Belize we all know people who have to feed their children Ramen noodles, there are people who go to the shop everyday to buy two hotdog sausages out of a pack to be able to feed four or five kids so we understand that there is poverty and there is growing inequality.”
According to Shoman, another issue being faced in Belize is the acceptance and tolerance of immediate gratification as opposed to the long term implementation of holding the leaders accountable despite political affiliations.
“There are people who are obviously benefitting from either being in power or having to access to those who are in power and those people seem to be getting ahead economically that is always going to be the basis for resentment, anger, hostility. If you feel as though you are trapped in a situation and there is no way out there is a growing sense of what psychologist called anomy; you don’t care anymore, you’re here for right now and what you can get right now and after that you are not worrying about tomorrow. Issues like governance then become a very foreign concept because what are you worrying about governance for if I’m just trying to get through today? And this is where the partisanship comes in because if somebody can get a favor or get ahead because of their political loyalties that will always mean that there is a sector of society that is left out and if you take the position that it is our turn to eat then it has to mean that there are people who will not eat and in a country that is as small as our where we are all interrelated that impacts immediately. The ruling party or the ruling group of people should make it a goal to ensure that they lift the lives of as many people as possible not just their own partisan members, that actually is the basis of holding on to power for a long time and some may say that in that regard certain politicians are more successful than others if you could spread the pie but I’m saying to you you are also not going to life the country out of economic poverty if you don’t try and make as many people as successful as possible. Who are you going to tax if people aren’t making it.”
“I’ve always asked that question, why does a politician look at it that way? The bigger you make that pie the more we share.”
“And then you don’t have to overtax the people and things like fuel because you have a bigger base of being able to get taxes.”
Shoman says that the onus is on the Belizean people to stand up for what they know is right even if it means going against the status quo or majority.
“At what point do you make up your mind that if you are a member of a group of people, whatever group that is, that you then have a responsibility to try as much as possible and get policies amended that represent what it is that you want? As a member of the PUP am I happy about every decision that the party makes? No. Do I try to influence those decisions? Absolutely and sometimes I succeed and sometimes I don’t. This is what it means to be a member of a collective, you have to look at yourself with some measure of personal responsibility if you are not able to achieve what it is that you want then you have to say to yourself okay do I continue trying here or do I do something different? Do I direct my energies elsewhere.”
“I get your point and I understand.”
“And you’re right we are some very lazy people we like run off our mouths on social media and I’ll deal with that on Monday and then on Monday I will start to complain again.”
Shoman is 52-years-old and became Belize’s first female ambassador to the United States.