The Guatemalan Claim

Pain, whether it is physical or otherwise, can become so terrible that the human organism, for its own protection, goes into unconsciousness, or shock. In seeking to reduce the terrible impact of pain, human beings go into all kinds of defensive mode. With respect to our sacred Holy Saturday Crosscountry bicycle race, in recent years most of us Belizeans have begun entering a defensive mode before Holy Saturday. We have been doing the same thing for many years where our national football selections are concerned – defensive mode.

In football, we know that they have been putting one “wap” on us over and over and over. Belize does not have “standing” national selections. These things are hurriedly thrown together a few weeks or so before whichever game is to be played, and the media are enlisted to hype the prospect of success when the preparation fundamentals have not been fulfilled. Big time bogus.

Personally, I choose to see a lot of Belizean phenomena through the prism of the unfounded Guatemalan claim, because I know that this is a very serious issue. Belize is quite a strange country in many respects. One of these extraordinary respects has to do with the Guatemalan claim.

The reality is that there are people in high places in Belize who have been essentially supporting this claim from the time of the 1950’s. Because there has been such a powerful pro-Guatemalan lobby here, certain things are simply not discussed. Young Belizean generations are left in dangerous ignorance. These things have been swept under the rug. For me, the most relevant of these things was the fact that the Guatemalans had established a “Belize Office” in the 1950s with an annual budget of 10 million quetzales. This Belize Office was for the “recovery” of Guatemala’s “23rd Department.” That’s us, Jack.

Because formal treaty attempts by the Americans and the British to have Belize become a satellite of Guatemala were violently rejected by the Belizean people in 1968 and 1981, Washington and London have since then been taking different approaches which are more subtle, more insidious, and, I suppose, less traumatic.

Belize was a settlement which became a regional instrument of the British which allowed them to interfere in the trade, business, industrial, political and military matters of Mexico and the Central American republics. This was in the nineteenth century, after Mexico and the Central American republics became independent of Spain in 1821. Prior to that, Belize was a place where pirates of British ancestry raided Spanish shipping and forests in this area.

During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and the early part of the twentieth, we roots Belizeans here were like “extras” in one of these extravagant movies. You know how they refer to, “ … and cast of thousands”? We were those thousands - nameless, faceless, and expendable.

Things began to change, for argument’s sake, with the Ex-Servicemen’s Rebellion in 1919, followed by Tony Soberanis’ roots rebellion in 1934. Those two events set the stage for Belize’s nationalist rebellion in 1950, wherein we who were the extras laid claim to this territory as our Belizean patrimony.

In 1950, Belize’s colonial masters were the British. But, there were “masters in waiting,” and if we were to judge by how Guatemala’s rulers had treated their own roots people historically, we believed those “masters in waiting” likely would be worse than the British. Still, Guatemala had money to spend on the “recovery” of Belize, and there were Belizean people, “leaders” included, who took that money. I believe they are still taking “it,” but “it” comes in different forms with different labels and in different currencies today.

There are prominent nations in the world, led by the United States and the United Kingdom, which have declared themselves “Friends of Belize.” These “Friends of Belize” can’t figure out why the Belizean people would not want to cut a deal with the Guatemalan government. It is for sure such a deal would have benefit for Belize in areas such as business, trade, and tourism. In response, I would say that one of the assumed benefits of sovereignty is that we, the Belizean people, don’t have to explain to anyone why we do what we do, or why we don’t do what we don’t do.

And, speaking only for my personal self, I want to say to whomever the cap fits, that whenever you are responsible, whether by omission or commission, for bringing shame upon Belize or lowering our Belizean self-esteem in front of our enemies and our neighbours, then I consider you a traitor to the land of my birth and my existence.

Power to the people. Power in the struggle.