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next page Please tell us where and in what year were you born? What was it like as a child growing up in your hometown? How has the town/district changed since your youth?

G. Michael Reid: I was born in Belize City on January 3rd, 1953. I was the seventh of nine children and at the age of three, our parents split up and so did the family. Two of my sisters were adopted, one by relatives and one by friends. The rest of us grew up with an aunt who had one son of her own. Things were very tough but we made the best of what we had. In effect we were in abject poverty but really did not realize it and once we did, did not resign to any perpetuality thereof. Belize has grown tremendously since my days of early childhood, which were the days of mule and cart, funeral by horse drawn hearses, outhouses, Sunday Matinees and Saturday night double headers. Crime was almost non existent and slight wooden blinds served the role of burglar bars. Crime was the exception not the rule of the day or night as it is now. Things have improved vastly in the way of infrastructure, salaries and commodities but as far as moral and ethical attitudes, it has gone steadily downhill. How did you personally become involved with the concerns of the people of Belize?

G. Michael Reid: I imagine that would have been just natural and inevitable. I was born and raised in Belize City and left in 1969 to live in Maryland USA with my eldest brother by my mother’s side. I returned the following year, stayed a couple of years and then left again in 1972. This time, I spent twenty years before finally returning to live in 1992. I guess that my years abroad gave me a different perspective and made me see that while our people do a lot of complaining and blaming and that most seem to think that we are all alone in troubled times, the fact is that comparatively speaking, we are not really that badly off. My travels allowed me a much better appreciation of Belize and they broadened my perspective considerably. I imagine my involvement with the concerns of my people is a natural thing; I love Belize and think our people have a world of potential. I try to use the experience that I garnered abroad to help expose our people to the true reality of our times. What do you consider to be the primary challenges for the people of Belize in the 21st century?

G. Michael Reid: To overcome our political differences, close ranks and to move from the prevailing attitude of gloom and despair to an altitude of hope and optimism. To adopt a will to do better through good old fashion work and to understand that we cannot depend on government or anyone to put bread on our table everyday of our lives. We must wake up to reality and understand that if it is to be, it is mostly up to me. We must do all we can to develop a positive attitude in our young people and teach them the meaningful values of life, the benefits of good actions and the detriments of bad as well as the true value of good old fashion hard work. We must refrain from the blame game and begin to ask, in the words of John F. Kennedy, “not what can my country do for me but what I can do for my county.” As the Public Relations Officer for the Belize Police Department, what do you feel the department is doing to educate the youth of the
country regarding the challenges facing all Belizeans?

G. Michael Reid: The current Commissioner of Police has recognized that the key to a safer Belize might very well lie in the reaching out to and educating of our young people. Statistics show that most crimes are committed by the young adult males(yams). The Commissioner has proposed a couple of initiatives including a Police Athletic League, enhancement of the Police Youth Cadet and a Police Crime Prevention Education Program(PCPEP), all geared toward creating a more positive attitude and developing a spirit of hope in our youths. We must tell them that they can more often than we tell them that they can’t. Do you believe there is more or less criminal activity between
Belizeans than there was five years ago?

G. Michael Reid: Yes, without a doubt, the crime situation has gone from bad to worse. The unfortunate thing is that many of the people committing crimes, whether white or blue collar, have been able to convince themselves that maybe what they are doing is not so bad. Many justify their actions by pointing out what others are also doing, not realizing how much they themselves are contributing to an already dire strait. It is so sad as we seemingly helplessly watch crime strangling our economy. People don’t go out anymore, they are afraid to carry money and aren’t even allowed to wear jewelry. Even little children are being robbed and folks are either too afraid or just don’t seem to care enough anymore. We desperately need to turn things around. Do you feel there is more crime targeting ‘expats’ now living in Belize than there was five years ago?

G. Michael Reid: Not necessarily. I thing that for the most part, the criminals target whomever they can, engaging in for the most part, what is referred to as “crimes of opportunity.” Many times, expats are targeted because they make themselves vulnerable by their actions, e.g. – walking down the street with a towel thrown over the shoulder. Criminals know that they are less likely to be identified by one who has not lived here continually. How will the current governmental fiscal restraints challenge the people of Belize? ?

G. Michael Reid: I think the important thing for people to understand is that we are not alone here. This fiscal crisis if affecting the entire globe and even developed countries are feeling the pinch. If people would learn to distinguish between real situations and political propaganda and close ranks in the fight against the challenges of a modern era, we could do much better. Certainly there has been an unacceptable degree of corruption and mismanagement but I am not convinced that it is confined to the rank of politicians. Across the board our people have been too willing to succumb to the temptations of greed and self gratification. Merchants for example, ought to be satisfied with less markups, if only until we are able to lift ourselves from the current crunch. Public servants ought to apply themselves more and give a little more effort without expecting huge financial returns for every small contribution. The Belize that we are building will be inherited by our own children and the work that we put in will be to their benefit. Having an occupation such as spokesperson for the Belize Police Department is obviously demanding, both mentally and physically. What do you do to keep in shape? What is your favourite past-time occupation??

G. Michael Reid: I try not to take the job too personally. I like to read, mostly philosophical writings and am a huge fan of Plato. I try to engage in some kind of physical activity everyday, be it exercise or just good old fashion hard work. I don’t mind getting my hands dirty but only in the literal sense. Can you tell us a highlight of your personal life?

G. Michael Reid: The time I spent in New York, which was roughly 14 years, was an exciting time in my life. Those were seven year stints sandwiching six years in Los Angeles. Of course, this was all pre 9-11 but I understand much has changed since then. I also have fond memories of a childhood in Belize which I would not trade for all the gold in Fort Knox. I am a certified scuba diver and really enjoy getting lost in the underwater world of our marine wonderland whenever time permits. To pinpoint one particular experience would be difficult. I have, for the most part, had a lot of fun in my life. I really envy those who haven’t and I am almost left with a sense of guilt for having been so blessed. The thing though, is that from very early in life, I learned to make the best of things and times, however challenging. What was considered fun to me, could very well had been considered intolerable and unbearable for others. What is your favourite past-time occupation?

G. Michael Reid: Reading and researching Belizean history. What is the greatest outdoor adventure you have ever experienced in Belize?

G. Michael Reid: I would have to say, in recent times, my visit to the Lemonai Maya Site. It was quite an adventure getting there by boat and then trekking through the jungle to experience an almost unbelievable architectural spectacle left by our forefathers. In my youth, I spent some time way back in the jungle near what was called Las Cuevas. It was in the company of an old white hunter by the name of Little John. He was a real rough and roughed jungle jim who gave guided tours to tourists who came to hunt jaguars. I think it might have been legal at that time. I remember one night being in a makeshift camp when a big cat just walked right through the tent. It was unforgettable. What is your most favourite Belizean food dish? What are your most favourite locally grown fruit and most favourite vegetable?

G. Michael Reid: This is a tough one. I like to eat and I like fruits and ground food in particular. I guess a healthy serving of boil-up a plate of traditional rice and beans and chicken would be close to the top of the list. I also enjoy a good dish of escabeche or rieno. Ducuno, hoodut and sere will also get my mouth water running. As for fruits, I love mangos and cashews and as in the line of vegs, some good ole callaloo will hit the bull’s eye everytime. Have you ever had the luck to see any of Belize's exotic wildlife such as a jaguar, tapir or the like? Have you ever been bitten by a scorpion, snake or spider?

G. Michael Reid: I have made many visits to the zoo and as I explained earlier, I had a true life experience with a big cat up close. No, I don’t remember being bitten by a snake or spider nor have I been stung by a scorpion. I was stung by hairy worms a couple of times growing up though, and I wouldn’t wish that on my enemies. Wax and conner and roasting fever for days. In your opinion what are the historically significant archaeological sites of the Maya and the Garifuna that the people of Belize should focus their attention upon?

G. Michael Reid: We have a wealth of these and unfortunately, visitors come and enjoy them immensely while our local people take them for granted. Many of our young people have never been west of Faber’s Road, north of Haulover or east of Baron Bliss Grave. Most all of the maya sites are commendable and recommendable. Xunantunich, Altun ha, Cahal Pech were all unforgettable experiences for me. As for the Gariganu, every Belizean ought to spend at least one 19th of November down south. I think the ceremonies in Dangriga Town might have grown too commercial but the further south one goes, the more authentic it becomes. We are truly blessed to have the Garinagu as an ingredient in our cultural melting pot. Which of the Maya archaeological sites in Belize have you visited? Which site was the most fascinating for you? Which of the Garifuna archaeological sites in Belize have you visited? Which site was the most fascinating for you? ?

G. Michael Reid: I believe that I have answered this question for the most part but to reiterate, Lamanai was my favorite and my visits to Hopkins have been quite exhilarating. What are the top three books we should all read in our lifetime?

G. Michael Reid: The Bible of course, The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran and The Great Conversation by Norman Melchert. Who would be on your list of favourite Belizean artists, writers or musicians? Who would be on your list of favourite non-Belizean artists, writers or musicians? What kind of music do you like to listen to?

G. Michael Reid: My favorite Belizean artist is Bredda David and while I disagree with many of the things that Evan X Hyde writes about, and while I think that he has rather selfish agenda and motives behind his scripts, I consider him to be a very good writer. My favorite non Belizean artist is Al Jarraeu and my favorite writer overall is Kahlil Gibran. I enjoy all kinds of music and really don’t think that I have a favorite kind. Different music for different moods. My all time favorite song is “You” by Bill Withers. How would you answer the question, "What is Belizean Culture?"

G. Michael Reid: Wow! Belizean culture is Brukdown, boilup and heareso. I guess you have to take some lows with the highs. Belize is so ecologically diverse with abundant natural beauty. What do you consider to be the most beautiful spot in all of Belize?

G. Michael Reid: There is a hill on the Western Highway that overlooks Spanish Lookout. I’m not sure what mile it is, must be somewhere between mile 60 and mile 70. Spectacular view! What is your favourite vacation spot outside of Belize?

G. Michael Reid: Unfortunately, except for wide travels across the US and through Mexico, I have not been many other places. I do plan to and I imagine that I am not yet ready to answer that question. I do like Cancun and my visit to Montego Bay in Jamaica left me with fond memories. I am longing to visit Cuba though, and take a trip to Europe. What would you consider to be the greatest asset of Belize?

G. Michael Reid: Our natural environment and the resolve of our people. If we can get over our petty differences and come together in a common cause we would be formidable as a nation. We are indeed a unique people and Belize is truly a land of gods. What would you most want someone reading this article to remember about what a one G. Michael Reid has to say?

G. Michael Reid: That he cares about Belize and that he has maximum respect for the potential of the people thereof.


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