Editorial, Amandala

During the presidency of Abraham Lincoln and the United States Civil War (1861- 1865), the Republican Party in America actually represented what the Democratic Party is today, a more populist organization, while the Democrats were the equivalent of today’s Republicans, featuring big business. In other words, the Republicans have become the Democrats, and the Democrats, the Republicans.

Now the first Opposition to the People’s United Party (PUP) was the National Party (NP), founded in 1951 as the party representing British colonial interests, British investment and religion, and the local civil service class which administrated the colony of British Honduras for the British.

In 1958, the National Party was joined by Philip Goldson’s Honduran Independence Party (HIP), and thus became the National Independence Party (NIP). The NIP was led by the previous NP Leader, Herbert Fuller. Philip Goldson didn’t become the PUP Leader until after Fuller died, either late 1961 or early 1962. It is probably fair to say that Goldson, as a founding member of the controversial and revolutionary PUP who had been overthrown by George Price in 1956, did not assert himself in Herbert Fuller’s NIP in the beginning. In fact, Goldson did not run as one of the NIP’s 18 candidates in the March 1961 General Elections under a new Ministerial constitution. (The PUP won all 18 seats in 1961.)

Under Goldson’s leadership, roughly from 1962 to 1973, the NIP remained middle class in flavor, while the PUP, which had been built on the foundation of Clifford Betson’s General Workers Union (GWU), remained the choice of workers in Belize.

When the NIP became a part of Dean Lindo’s UDP in 1973, then indeed the Opposition UDP was unabashedly big business in bias and very much anti-communist.

The results of last Wednesday’s national Municipal Elections indicate that the mighty PUP have surely dug a deep political hole for themselves. For the first time in history, a third party, the VIP, has defeated the PUP, in the city that George Price built at that – Belmopan. In San Ignacio/Santa Elena, the UDP’s victory was almost 4 to 1 over the PUP! In fact, a breakaway UDP mayoral candidate who ran independent, Alfonso Cruz, actually defeated the PUP mayoral candidate in the twin towns. The overall performance of the PUP last Wednesday was depressing.

But it is the third consecutive such message which the voters of Belize have sent to the PUP. The first such message was in the 2006 national Municipal Elections – UDP blowout victory! The second was in last year’s General Elections – UDP blowout victory! And then, last Wednesday’s municipals – UDP blowout victory. Just exactly who is it in the PUP who is not getting the message?

Meanwhile, the aforementioned vice versa part. While the PUP became an excessively neoliberal party, submissive to big business and transnational investors in the extreme between 1998 and 2008, Prime Minister Dean Barrow’s UDP government, in its first year in office, has been locked in battle with the Fortis transnational electricity company and with Belize’s most powerful business mogul – Lord Michael Ashcroft. The results of Wednesday’s elections suggest strongly that the UDP’s positions, totally different from what the National Party represented, have been politically rewarded by Belize’s working masses, who realized in July/August 2004 that they had been abandoned by the PUP.

The joker in this present political deck of cards, we must say it, has to be the PUP Leader Emeritus, who seized PUP leadership in 1956 while the PUP was still allied with the GWU, but openly and stubbornly supported and praised every single move of the neoliberal PUP between 1998 and 2008.

Our thesis is that the PUP have moved, unbelievably, to the right of the UDP where the capital/labor model is concerned. In 2009, it is the PUP who defend capital, and the UDP who stand up for the working masses. It was obvious to anyone who wished to see that this was happening in August of 2004, but the PUP leadership, operating behind the protective cult of their Leader Emeritus, disrespected the Belizean electorate and took them for fools. There is no other way to put it.

Belize’s politics is, of course, more complicated than the capital/labor model. Additionally, a hope for the hard core PUP lies in the fact that his present position cannot be all that comfortable for Prime Minister Barrow, because his vibes have never really included worker championship. In a sense, roots power fell into Hon. Barrow’s lap because the Belizean masses were abandoned once Said Musa and Ralph Fonseca achieved total power in 1998.

PUP apologists for Musa and Fonseca claim that everything was fine until the G-7 challenge to Fonseca’s money rule arose in August of 2004. But the three G-7 members who were subsequently victimized, to one degree or another, and who stayed the course where their public finances position was concerned, performed the best of the PUP’s candidates in last year’s General Elections. Ralph Fonseca, the target of their dissent, lost his seat. What is that saying?

Indeed, all over planet Earth those financial and economic policies which Ralph Fonseca espoused, have been exposed as inappropriate, to put it mildly. In fact, in some cases neoliberal policies have completely exploded. Governments internationally have had to move to clean up the mess left by the free market extremists.

It is very difficult for us to understand how the Musa/Fonseca apologists can continue with this argument in the face of all that has transpired in Belize since 2004, and in the world since 2007. Only the Leader Emeritus has an excuse. He was old and didn’t know any better. That said, we stand by our thesis - the PUP became the UDP, and vice versa.

Power to the people.