… politicians are hypocrites …
- Tupac Shakur in “It’s me against the world”
After six decades of these exciting, but inevitably inconclusive, processes we know as national elections, the masses of the Belizean people are conscious that these processes are not really the end of the world, and that some very important institutions and realities will essentially remain the way they have always been.
Most prominent among these institutions which are never affected by the ballots are the churches and the schools. The churches are in charge of our souls and the schools are in charge of our brains. After your soul and your brain, all you have left is your body, and that is only on loan to you, in all its mortal frailty.
On Tuesday night around midnight someone set a car on fire in the Esso gas station parking lot on New Road in Belize City. The car belonged to the attorney Godfrey Smith, but was in the use of the surgeon Dr. Francis Smith, who is Godfrey’s older brother and who has been campaigning as the PUP candidate for the Pickstock constituency. The immediate suspicion was that this very, very dangerous crime was the work of campaigners for Dr. Smith’s opponent, the attorney Wilfred “Sedi” Elrington, who became the area representative for Pickstock after defeating Dr. Smith’s brother, the aforementioned Godfrey, in the February 2008 general elections.
Now, which absolute idiot would start a fire in a gas station in a crowded residential area of roots Belizeans? We put it to you that there is another possibility besides an absolute Belizean idiot. In a time like this, days before general elections, there are agents for interested regional and international powers who are inside the territory of Belize.
We have said to you in these editorial pages, on more than one occasion, that many violent things happen in states which have important petroleum resources. These very violent things take place because petroleum deposits are so valuable. Some people refer to oil as “black gold.” There was a state of frenzy that used to be called “gold fever,” referring to the behavior of people with respect to the yellow metal. There is a certain amount of oil fever in Belize these days. Consider this. If there had been a catastrophic explosion in the New Road gas station on Tuesday night, do you believe that it would have been possible to hold a national people’s referendum on offshore oil drilling on Wednesday morning?
In the remainder of this essay, we want to examine the political personalities involved with the campaign for the Pickstock seat, the purpose being to give you another graphic example of the PUDP system which controls the socio-politics of Belize. Sedi Elrington’s long-time law partner is B. Q. Pitts, Sr., who is the Attorney General of Belize. Francis Smith’s brother, Godfrey, is considered Lord Michael Ashcroft’s no. 1 Belizean attorney and loyalist. Okay. So UDP Sedi Elrington and PUP Francis Smith are supposed to be totally daggers drawn because one is so red and one is so blue.
In the summer of 1975, a man subsequently described as “a PUP soldier” by the late Rt. Hon. George C. Price, took out a gun at a PUP public meeting at the Courthouse Wharf in Belize City and shot four UDP hecklers who were hollering at the PUP crowd from Central Park. Fortunately, the shooter, a U.S. military veteran, did not kill anyone. He was arrested and offered bail by Magistrate Edwin Flowers. Then he was quickly spirited out of the country by the powers-that-be, proceeding to spend several years in California, and returned to Belize for “trial” immediately after Belize achieved independence in 1981. At the “trial” he was defended by the said B. Q. Pitts, a UDP luminary and stalwart. That gunman never spent a day in jail.
Now to Godfrey Smith, former PUP secretary-general, Pickstock area representative, and Said Musa Cabinet Minister. He began his legal career in the law firm of Barrow & Williams, UDP Prime Minister Dean Barrow’s firm. In 2002, while a PUP Cabinet Minister (Attorney General), Godfrey Smith formed a private company (BELIPO) to work the lucrative business of a privatized government department we once knew as the Registry. His partners in that company were attorney Eamon Courtenay, a sometime PUP Cabinet Minister, and the attorney Denys Barrow, the younger brother of the aforementioned Dean Barrow, UDP Leader.
Let us wrap up this PUDP package with the following ribbon, whatever the color. Shortly after Sedi Elrington defeated the aforementioned Ashcroft favorite, Godfrey Smith, to win the Pickstock seat and become a UDP Cabinet Minister, he accepted a gift of $200,000 from Lord Ashcroft, with which he built the Samuel Haynes School of Excellence.
Belize became an independent nation in September of 1981, but our head of state is a Governor-General whose loyalty is to the Queen of England, Elizabeth II. It is the Queen’s portrait which stares at us every day from the official currency of Belize. In the House of Representatives, all our elected leaders swear an oath of loyalty to Queen Elizabeth II, “her heirs and successors.” On Friday of this week, the Queen’s grandson, Prince Harry, visits Belize in honor of the sixtieth anniversary of his grandmother’s coronation.
“After six decades of these exciting, but inevitably inconclusive, processes we know as national elections, the masses of the Belizean people are conscious that these processes are not really the end of the world, and that some very important institutions and realities will essentially remain the way they have always been.”
Power to the people. Amandala