Editorial from Amandala
On a much smaller scale, the conditions in Belize are very similar to those which precipitated Castro’s revolution in Cuba, which actually began in July of 1953, and came to power in January of 1959. Those conditions are excessive wealth concentrated in the hands of a few nationals, mass poverty, and domination from abroad by rich individuals and groups.
Belizeans generally love to gamble, and even though some clerics say they consider it a vice which should be extirpated, at this newspaper we are not anti-gambling. The nature of the gambling which now takes place in Belize, however, is seriously deleterious [have a harmful effect], very harmful financially. The Boledo and Sunday lottery are controlled by foreigners, who repatriate their profits, some of which are derived from an illegal form of those lotteries, in a clandestine manner. The casinos are owned by foreigners who repatriate their profits legally. In both cases, poor Belizeans’ moneys are being exported day in and day out. The dream which Belizeans are chasing is actually a nightmare.
Don’t let anybody kid you. Casinos all over the world routinely include prostitution, drugs and counterfeiting in their portfolios. Who can say that Belize is different from anywhere else in the world?
Casinos were introduced into Belize by a PUP government which argued that the casinos would only be open to foreign tourists. In fact, the largest casino in Belize, the one in Belize City, has no tourists in it. The victims are Belizeans. The stories of their losses and their desperation are sad, and they are many.
The casinos are not in the national political debate, because both the major political parties accept generous campaign donations from the casino owners. It is not this newspaper which should be discussing this problem, because, to repeat, we are not opposed to gambling per se, and we accept advertisements from the casino. Belize has a lot of foreign-financed religions here which are dogmatically hostile to casinos. But the religions here do not crusade against casinos. In fact, over the Christmas holidays, Integrity Radio, which is owned and financed by a religion, had a conference or some such gathering at, yes, the Princess Casino!
When the former Prime Minister, who legalized casinos as soon as he became Prime Minister in 1998, entered Belizean politics as an activist in 1969, there were skeptics who pointed out that both he and his Palestinian lawyer partner, had older brothers who were hard core Belizean businessmen/capitalists. The two Palestinian lawyers/activists were allies of Amandala in 1969, so we ignored the skeptics. In fact, you must remember that the two activists gave absolute respect to, and publicly praised, the aforementioned Castro’s Cuban Revolution.
Today there is a huge structure taking shape across the street from BTL Park, a little north of the Renaissance Towers, a stone’s throw from the Princess Casino. This giant new building is being constructed on land which was owned by the expatriate club during the British colonial days. With independence, that land was acquired by the Pickwick Club, which is an organization of rich local businessmen. Amongst the owners of the new structure is the previously mentioned older brother of the former Prime Minister. That older brother is a multimillionaire businessman who has served as the Belize liaison for the foreign owners of the Princess Casino. The streets are saying the new building will be another casino. The older brother of the former P.M. must have seen something extra sweet during his time at the Princess.
We are not moralists on Partridge Street. Neither do we speak in the name of God. But there are many of those, moralists and speakers in the name of God, here in Belize, and they speak out on many things. It is very, very seldom, however, when anything is said about casinos. The casinos are not only legal: they are protected. In Belize, they actually seem to be blessed. History shows, however, that casinos were a really huge part of the social problem in Cuba. Those with eyes to see, let them see.