Belize Table of Contents
Public order was well established in the nation. There had been no serious threats to internal stability since independence, and as of 1991, the country was free of insurgencies. Elections were held on a regular basis, and political competition was open. All political parties operated freely and without government or other interference. Organizers of public meetings were required to obtain a permit at least thirty-six hours before the gathering. But such permits were almost always granted and were never denied for political reasons. The government respected constitutionally protected rights and freedoms, which were generally enjoyed by all citizens. Among these protections were the rights to free speech, assembly, association, and movement. Unions freely exercised the right to organize and to form confederations (see Labor , ch. 8). The constitution allowed unions to strike but permitted unions representing essential services to strike only after giving twentyone days notice to the government ministry concerned. There were no strikes in 1990.
In 1987 the government, then led by the United Democratic Party (UDP), passed a law establishing the Security and Intelligence Service (see Electoral Process since Independence , ch. 9). The new service was intended to protect the nation from espionage, sabotage, subversion, and terrorism. The law charged the service with collecting and evaluating intelligence related to Belize's security and with providing security assessments of certain public servants to various departments of government. These assessments were designed to determine the public servants' loyalty and allegiance to the nation. The opposition People's United Party (PUP) came out firmly against the new service, charging that the government was trying to stifle political opposition and intended to use the service to harass the church, press, judiciary, and civil service. The government never actually formed the new security service but tensions nevertheless flared between the two political parties over the role of such a service. In January 1988, the political dispute between the two parties evolved into shortlived demonstrations and minor violence after a suspicious fire broke out at the home of the deputy prime minister. Elections in September 1989 resulted in a new PUP government, which, within a few weeks, led a successful effort to repeal the 1987 Security and Intelligence Service Act, abolishing the new service.
Data as of January 1992