I think the evidence which shows that the “big boys” in the then Opposition knew what they were doing when they moved out the Hon. Philip Goldson from leadership between 1972 and 1974 lies in Mr. Philip’s defying of UDP leadership in the Maritime Areas Act matter and his formation of the National Alliance for Belizean Rights (NABR) in 1991, when, incidentally, Mr. Philip was completely blind. The “big boys” and all those who were backing them could never be sure of Goldson, that he would toe the party line instead of following his nationalistic conscience.
Dr. Dennis Young has told me on several occasions over the years that the late Senator Dudley Thompson of Jamaica insisted on referring to Goldson as a “genal.” This is a Jamaican term which indicates someone is a conniver, an operator. The thing is that our Belizean Baby Boomer generation of black youth felt that Goldson was all we had. Whenever there was a national crisis in the 1960s, Mr. Philip was the one who was expressing our feelings. Straight.
I would argue that the rise of UBAD just 19 years after the PUP had been established in 1950 and had appeared to be the ultimate in local roots militancy, suggests that by 1969 there were serious flaws in the PUP programs. Remember, in the initial UBAD phases in 1969 and 1970, the bulk of our youth support came from PUP families. When Norman Fairweather returned from New York and became a UBAD officer in early 1971, then a substantial youth element of NIP background joined forces with our roots youth base.
On the return of myself and Ismail Shabazz to Belize in late January 1972, we had little time to assess our situation as a political party. The ruling PUP came after UBAD officers hard – pre-dawn paramilitary raids, police harassment, and so on. During this period, we UBAD were the heroes of all anti-PUP elements in the city. Dean Lindo, the attorney who would become UDP Leader, defended us pro bono in several cases, both Magistrate’s and Supreme Courts.
Finally, all hell broke loose on the night of May 29, 1972, during and after a UBAD demonstration march. Because of his exploits that night, Norman Fairweather became a street hero of Belize City youth, and his stature was enhanced when he, Michael Hyde and Edwardo Burns (defended by Mr. Lindo) were acquitted in the October 1972 Supreme Court session.
De facto, UBAD now had two hero/leaders, the president and the secretary-general, on the one executive, and the vice-president made it known in several executive meetings whom he preferred - Norman. UBAD entered 1973, in retrospect, vulnerable to any divisive pressure from outside, because UBAD was already divided within.
The divisive pressure from outside came in the form of the Unity Congress, organized by the Rev. Gerald Fairweather in an attempt to unite all elements which were in opposition to the ruling PUP. The question was: where did the Liberal Party come from?
As harassed as I was by the PUP, I was in no hurry to join the Unity Congress. The treatment Shabazz and I had received from Rev. Gerald’s son, Compton, in New York just a year earlier, had not been satisfactory. And secondly, Lawrence, Rodriguez, Esquivel and Vasquez were looking very much Vatican to me. Shabazz had resigned from UBAD in November of 1972 to work full time for Nuri Muhammad’s Nation of Islam. My steadiest ally was gone. The UBAD executive vote in early 1973 on whether to join the Unity Congress forthwith, went five for and five against. A quarrel, of course, then broke out in UBAD, and it soon became public.
Younger generations will not find this all that easy to understand, but in 1972 and 1973 George Price and the ruling PUP were considered Babylon oppressors by the majority of Belize City youth. Because I ended up alienated first from the Unity Congress and later from the UDP, which was formed in September of 1973, and because these were the forces which took over the fight against the PUP, those Wesley College students who had idolized me during the 1971-72 school year now were forced to view me in a negative light.
I can tell you that this period was a painful one in my life. In party politics, you have to be a team player, and I was not. I was a writer who had gotten sucked into party politics by a series of events which were out of my control. How could I explain to those students I had taught that the PUP was not all bad and the UDP was not all good? Impossible.
My Wesley College students are in their middle and late fifties today. Almost all of them are in the United States and Canada. I will always remember them and cherish their youthful loyalty. I hope that time has clarified things for them where Evan X is concerned. I got caught in currents which were far too powerful for me, and I thought I was bigger and more important than I was. The “big boys” schooled me.
As for my UBAD brothers and sisters, we shared some beautiful times together amidst all the pressure and stress. The division is not of consequence. We accomplished stuff, and we laid a foundation.
All power to the people.