We were tempted to just run one of the stories as reported in the international media, but that would be the cheap way out. Besides, most of them weren’t very flattering to Belize or our Prime Minister who, as we see it, as only answering a question.
Bu we will give you a few of the tasty titbits…
First, let’s set the stage:
The US just came through another bruising battle between the executive and legislative branches – i.e., President Obama and the jolly Republicans in Congress playing rough.
Now, most Republicans hate the idea of universal health care (disclaimer – this writer is Australian. We have free universal health.) and, as we know, the president and Democrats are quite proud that he got what is called Obama Care passed.
But at a cost. (We promise to stay away from politics here, it’s not our “thing”, but, as we said, we’re just setting the stage for Prime Minister Barrow’s recent promenade on the world stage)
Anyway, the Democrats and Republicans just went through another bruiser that almost shut the entire government down and is understandably the talk of the world. The Statue of Liberty and some national parks were closed and there was all sorts if drama.
So, amid this scene, the Belize Prime Minister and wife Kim are leaving the ultra-chic Madeo restaurant at Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, where paparazzi buzz around like so many flies. One of those members of that noble profession recognised Mr and Mrs Barrow as foreign dignitaries (the US secret Service dudes hovering around are usually a good tip) and approached Belize’s leader with THE QUESTION.
Did he have any advice for the US Government on how to avoid another shutdown?
Fair enough, especially coming from the leader of a country that 3,000 respondents to a questionnaire said was number seven of the top ten most relaxed nations in the world.
Mr Barrow’s response was “You have to switch to the parliamentary system.”
(Further disclaimer – this writer is an Australian citizen and Belizean permanent resident, both parliamentary systems sharing the same head of state, Queen Elizabeth II).
Now, to say all hell broke loose would be hyperbole, insult our journalistic credibility and offend those members of our community who find the H word offensive. So we’ll just offer some quotes from our brothers and sisters in the US media at TMZ :
The leader of the tiny and impoverished nation of Belize, a former British colony in Central America popular with SCUBA divers, was leaving the swanky Beverly Hills restaurant Madeo surrounded by U.S. Secret Service bodyguards. Reporters asked him if he had any advice for the U.S. government to avoid another shutdown.
His response “You have to switch to the parliamentary system.”
Now Belize has a system like many former British colonies with no president and power concentrated almost exclusively in the hands of an all-powerful cabinet. Jamaica, India and Zimbabwe are examples of parliamentary system governments.
Comments on Mr. Barrow’s faux pas range from outrage and admonitions that the leader of a tiny patch of jungle should not be giving governance advice to the U.S., to defensive comments from Belizeans residing in the U.S. saying the prime minister was simply joking.
And then we had:
Now, Belize has its problems, too — according to the various media reports the country has a Caa1 credit rating — which essentially translates to “p#ss poor.”
But we hear the snorkelling is spectacular …
OK, look, we don’t put TMZ in the same league as the New York Times, The Guardian, Le Monde or other world class newspapers. They just happened to get across our desk first (these guys are quick) and they are popular. And, in fact they are known for having a serious fact checking crew working 24/7. As you do in the celebrity gossip business.
The news is already pouring in through our usual media alerts and other channels (I already had a half a dozen “Did you hear?” emails and a couple phone calls from several countries) so it will be news and we’d be remiss in not reporting it.
We take the line from TMZ quoted above – “comments from Belizeans residing in the U.S. saying the prime minister was simply joking”. And knowing what we do of the PM and his sense of humour and diplomacy assume that’s the case.
But just in case you haven’t heard it yet, “You heard it here first”
And we’ll see how this latest tempest in a teacup develops…