By Wellington C. Ramos
Caribbean News Now contributor
BROOKLYN, USA -- On Sunday, August 12, 2012, Dangriga Town Mayor Gilbert Swaso from Belize, held a Town Hall meeting in Brooklyn, New York City. The meeting was sponsored by the United Garifuna Association Inc. The welcome address was delivered by the president Alfonso Cayetano and the introduction was done by the director of financial affairs Dennis Bonilla, all officers of the association.
Swaso wasted no time in discussing what he inherited when he took office, how he plans to solve the problems of the town and his vision for a better Dangriga Town.
He addressed the dilapidated state of the streets in the town and the need for immediate repairs. Other items discussed was the renovation of the town market, the Jettie Pier, ambulances obtained recently, sanitation trucks, unemployment, tourism, a cultural centre, uncollected tax revenues, limited subvention, limited revenues, neglected dirty lots and the cleaning of the beach.
One plan is to change the name of the pier from Commerce Bight to “Port of Dangriga Town” and have it be managed by a board appointed by the mayor of the town. Currently, the pier has remained dormant for about fifteen years and is not being used for any shipping. He made efforts with the citrus company to employ residents of Dangriga Town and about 100 young men were employed to reap oranges but only about six are still employed. The citrus and the oil companies have both indicated that they would rather ship their products through Commerce Bight Pier.
He said that the newly elected members of the People’s United Party have formed a Southern Caucus and that they have confronted the governing United Democratic Party with a wide range of issues that Belizean southerners are concerned about.
When Swaso returns to Belize he will be going to Belmopan, the capital city of Belize, to get an update on the Southern Caucus’ request. If the party in government does not grant their request, they plan to go to the people in the south to join them in getting the government to honour their request.
After the meeting the mayor was taken to Linden Boulevard Football Field to meet with other Belizeans. He was in a happy mood and had the opportunity to meet many of his old friends and relatives. The mayor indicated that all went well with negotiations to get the three ambulances for Dangriga and Punta Gorda Town.
He left New York City to attend a Black Mayor’s Conference in Houston, Texas, and from there he will be returning to his home town of Dangriga. Dangriganans were happy to meet the mayor and many of them raised some concerns they had when they visited their home town recently.
The meeting ended with a questions and answers session and some in the audience took the opportunity to ask questions and lodge their complaints.