From The Publisher, Amandala
Posted By: Marty
From The Publisher, Amandala - 10/06/10 02:53 PM
What was exposed in a particularly graphic way during 2007 was how enormous is the power of the Prime Minister in Belize’s constitutional democracy, especially when that Prime Minister has a large majority of seats. The reason the enormous nature of the Prime Minister’s power was exposed that year was because it appeared that a genuine national movement had emerged to oppose the use of public funds to pay the Universal Health Services (UHS) debt, and yet Prime Minister Said Musa, seemingly a single man, waited until the last possible moment to yield to the popular will, if only temporarily.
The Prime Minister only appears to be a single man, because his constitutional position derives from the fact that the Governor General, Belize’s titular head of state, is “convinced” that the Prime Minister is the individual who has the support of the majority of the area representatives who belong to the political party with the majority in the House of Representatives. Those House majority area representatives, for their part, have received the majority of the votes of the registered and voting adult electors of Belize. (There may have been an exception to this rule in 1993, when the UDP standard bearers received a couple thousand votes fewer, overall, than the PUP candidates.)
The fact that the Governor General, who owes his ultimate allegiance to the Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, is Belize’s head of state, surely suggests and perhaps even indicates, that Belize is in some kind of status subordinate to the aforementioned Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. (I will return to this “status” later in the essay.)
It may be, based on the recent votes of the trade unions and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry where the matter of using social security funds to purchase Telemedia (BTL) shares is concerned, that this will become Prime Minister Dean Barrow’s UHS moment, so to speak. Popular opposition to the use of social security funds to buy BTL shares has hardly reached the level of the UHS uproar, but if the issue becomes at any point to be absolutely vital to the leadership of the Prime Minister, then the constitutional fact of the matter is that he has the power to bull his way through.
As Mr. Musa was ending his first term of office in late 2002 and commencing his second term in early 2003, I found that he was becoming a man on the road to intransigence. I am sure that he would say, or ask, in his defence, where was the evidence. It was more a mood, I would submit, which was becoming evident to me, and that mood consisted of an attitude wherein he would not allow himself to be pressured. Personally, I had always thought politics was about the way politicians adjust to pressures in order to establish and maintain consensus. I did not appreciate how awesome the Prime Minister’s power was, and yes, how dangerous it is, until the time of the UHS crisis in 2007.
In the several weeks leading up to Belize’s political independence on September 21, 1981, I had been scandalized by the arrogance of Prime Minister George Price’s power where the issue of Belize’s proposed national flag was concerned. Remember, these were weeks then when it appeared that Mr. Price and his government would insist on what the rest of us Belizeans viewed as a PUP flag, becoming Belize’s national flag. The compromise decision to add the two horizontal strips of red came very late in that ball game. I am positive of this, but it is never discussed.
The thing is, Mr. Price had become such an institution by 1981 insofar as his personality was concerned (and remember that he had been initially “First Minister” in 1961, and later Premier, in fact was “Premier” in those weeks before independence), that in 1981 I did not focus on the concept of the Prime Minister’s power the way I began to do at the time of the UHS matter.
There had been a group of Belizeans who began to hold serious discussions on the matter of political reform soon after the young lions of the PUP were elected to government in August of 1998. It had appeared to be a government, partly because of Prime Minister Musa’s personal history, which would be open to progressive and nationalistic suggestions. That reformist group of Belizeans included Godwin Hulse, Patrick Rogers, and Carolyn Trench-Sandiford. I did not personally give the group the respect they, their colleagues, and their deliberations deserved. For this, I apologize. Still, I learned from this group, and I felt that the active participation in the reform group of Kremandala’s late Edgar X Richardson, represented institutional respect for the initiative.
In any case, it will be of interest and importance to analyze how our relatively new Prime Minister behaves as this critical Telemedia vs SpeedNet confrontation unfolds. In my opinion, the Prime Minister continues to make two mistakes which are costing him credibility amongst the roots as he battles the Chichester dragon. The ultimate reason why the Chichester dragon is so fearsome no doubt has much to do with this complex, unspecified relationship between the Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, on the one part, and the independent nation-state of Belize, on the other. Remember, everyone in the House of Representatives has to swear allegiance to Queen Elizabeth I and “her heirs and successors.” Exactly what the hell does this mean when push comes to shove?
Power to the people. Power in the struggle.
Posted By: Marty
Re: From The Publisher, Amandala - 03/02/11 03:22 PM
Author: Evan X Hyde
That element within the Opposition People’s United Party (PUP) which has been referred to as the “old guard” since their electoral defeat in February 2008, has paid a lot of propaganda attention to myself since this defeat. The more immediate, and I think more relevant, problem for them is the combination of the Albert and Lake Independence area representatives – Mark Espat and Cordel Hyde. But, it has reached a point where the line the old guard has been taking, is that Mark and Cordel are listening to me. Imagine.
There is another situation to which the PUP should be paying attention, and that is the “area of disturbed weather,” to use the meteorological term, which COLA, APAMO, Oceana, SATIIM, VIP, PNP and the like represent. If you have lived in these tropical regions, you know that vague areas of disturbed weather sometimes end up becoming monster hurricanes.
Anyway, the fundamental reason why electoral politicians, and they come from both the blue and the red, often pay major attention to me, at the same time while they routinely ridicule my electoral record, is because there is a group of voters who are loyal to me and others like me. If we use the yardstick of Evan X Hyde in Collet in 1974 and Rufus X in Belize Rural North in 1989, these being poorly-financed, independent candidate runs, that small group represents a minimum of 4-plus percent of the electorate.
4-plus percent certainly does not look like a lot, but it can be the difference in certain areas. And the thing about that 4-plus percent is that it has been proven to be a consistent and determined group.
Politics has proven to be both a curse and a blessing in my life, and I will explain. I am a writer. I was a writer before I ever mounted a public rostrum, which was 1969. Politics and writing are very different professions. Politics is about people, of course, but writing is about the words and sounds, the moods, dreams and ideas in a writer’s mind. As a writer who became a public speaker in 1969, I was leader of a cultural organization which attracted support and loyalty from a defined mass of Belizeans. That defined mass of Belizeans was judged to be a threat by the ruling PUP in early 1970, and it was considered a possible salvation by the Opposition National Independence Party (NIP) in late 1971. The PUP sought to imprison me in 1970, and then the NIP sought my support in 1971. These situations both proved to be curses.
At the same time, though, the support and loyalty of that defined mass of Belizeans made it possible for this newspaper to be established and for it to survive attacks of various kinds, from foundation. Amandala was authentic, it was indigenous, and it was revolutionary. Had it not been for politics, in the sense of an organized body of people/defenders, it would have been crushed.
Now then, when the PUP won general elections in 1998 and 2003, the PUP was supported by this newspaper and by myself. As a minority presence in Belize’s public life, I have always been compelled to react to the much greater forces of the two major political parties. When the PUP or the UDP become entangled with myself, I have to seek refuge in alliance with the “other” party. For reasons going back to their 1984 to 1989 term of office, the Manuel Esquivel-UDP and myself became antagonistic to each other. When Mr. Esquivel returned to power in 1993, he committed his administration to punishing me. In retaliation, I was PUP in 1998. In 2003, I would say this was perhaps a case where I didn’t know any better. Plus, the UDP in 2003 didn’t really deserve anybody’s support.
The old guard of the PUP have apparently decided that they can intimidate me into supporting their party in 2013. The UDP leaders, for their part, have begun to become nervous about what they perceive as criticism by Amandala journalists. So, last week for example, we had the PUP old guard newspaper running their weekly half-page advertisement condemning yours truly as a sell-out to Barrow, while the Barrow Guardian was, at the same time, attacking Amandala as being in the service of Cordel Hyde, among other things.
The political parties in power, change from time to time. But there are certain institutions which remain in power in Belize, no matter what. These are the churches, administrated from Europe and North America, which control the schools and, hence, the minds of our children. As a roots and revolutionary writer, early on I was branded anathema by the churches. Denied the imprimatur of the churches, I found writing salvation in the arms of the Belizean people. That is the true meaning of this here story.
Power to the people. Power in the struggle.
Posted By: ScubaLdy
Re: From The Publisher, Amandala - 03/02/11 06:45 PM
I appreciate your writing. Are you now ready to support a third party - maybe VIP?
Posted By: Tim Callanan
Re: From The Publisher, Amandala - 03/02/11 09:19 PM
I would like to see the third party ! Power to the people
Posted By: Katie Valk
Re: From The Publisher, Amandala - 03/03/11 12:17 AM
Not while his son Cordell Hyde and son in law Mark Espat are PUP standardbearers.
Posted By: SnoopysMom
Re: From The Publisher, Amandala - 03/03/11 03:48 AM
I hate politics... Just do the right thing, people!
Posted By: Marty
Re: From The Publisher, Amandala - 04/30/11 03:36 PM
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. Amandala
Posted By: Marty
Re: From The Publisher, Amandala - 05/21/11 02:29 PM
From The Publisher
Sex is a very serious and very important aspect of our lives as human beings. In most human beings of reproductive age, this is an extremely powerful urge. The sex urge is extremely powerful because this is how we reproduce ourselves, how we express our demand for self-preservation. All of us want very much to live, even though we will certainly die.
One of the attractions of religion is that almost all the various faiths promise eternal life for their disciples. That eternal life involves a spiritual concept usually referred to as the “soul.” But, there is another form of eternal life, in the sense that if you could be assured that your children and your children’s children and all their generations would go on and on forever, that would be a form of eternal life. There is no such guarantee, however, though the sex urge represents, whether we are conscious of it or not, our personal quest for forever.
Belize is a small place, and there is and has always been a lot of tension amongst families involved with the question of who will have sex with whom. As a people, we are divided by color, ethnicity, religion, and class. Ideally, people who are going to mate with each other are not encouraged to cross these lines of division, because they will encounter problems additional to those which life presents in the normal course of things.
And yet, it is true that opposites attract. Human beings are curious, and curiosity often gets us into trouble. Then, this love business can throw everything rational out of whack. Once curiosity kicks in and opposites start attracting and love enters the picture, then things can get crazy. Lovers start behaving as if the traditional lines of division don’t matter. All they know is that they are in love, and that they want each other, and they want to be with each other forever and forever.
As human organisms, we are probably most vulnerable to the recklessness and vicissitudes of the love experience during our teenaged years. These are years when parents are greatly challenged, because they have to control their children without confining them. There are some immigrant families in Belize who actually send away their children when they reach the dangerous teen years. This is because they don’t want their children to become romantically and sexually involved with us Belizeans. It is their children, and so that is their right.
The playing of sports in public places is a sexy exercise. The performers wear fewer clothes than one would wear on the street, and so members of the opposite sex can see more and find more to admire in the bodies of those who are performing than they would on the street. In the modern era, there are also members of the same sex admiring each other, but that is not what we are discussing at this time. We are discussing the sex dangers involved with age-old heterosexuality and sports: young girls and young ladies entering arenas where they can see and admire the physiques and gifts of young men.
I think the most serious divisions amongst families in Belize City have to do with class, the other areas of division such as color, ethnicity and religion being complicating factors. In practical terms, what this means is that if I have fought my way out of poverty into a higher standard of living, I wouldn’t want my prize daughter getting hooked up with your poor-a— son. This is real in Belize, as it is all over the world, I suppose.
The class divisions and the sex factors translate into a situation where certain Belizean families refuse to support sports where lower class youth may become heroic, and, as a result, sexually attractive to their children. Belize is small. In America, there were a whole lot of young ladies, millions and millions and millions, who would have wanted to get close to Michael Jordan. The individual American father would not feel a personal danger involved with his daughter going crazy over Michael Jordan, because Michael (apart from being rich) had so many other ladies chasing him. But in Belize, if a Belizean version of Michael Jordan emerged as a hero, this place is so small that it could be my daughter or your daughter, and the thing is that everybody would know about it. The place is small. People are scared.
The starting lineup which ran on to the Civic court to represent the Kremandala Raiders in the inaugural semi-pro basketball season in 1992 featured two high school graduates, a high school dropout, and two primary school dropouts. By the second game the Raiders played, one of the primary school dropouts had become a city sensation because of his great gifts. He was not in a financial position to give any young lady a solid life, but his fame meant that young ladies wanted to be with him. This is the nature of many young ladies. They want to be with stars. If they themselves were not stars before, being with a star makes them a star.
The rulers of this society, therefore, are nervous about programs which may end up as a vehicle for lower class youth to ride to stardom. It’s too dangerous, because our upper class young ladies would start becoming interested in lower class males. Not good.
When other options for upward social mobility are not available, sports is supposed to be a way for talented individuals from oppressed situations to move upwards. It’s not happening in modern Belize, because the place is too small. I know that what I’m saying is true, that there are powerful and wealthy Belizeans who do not support sporting programs because they are afraid of creating what they consider “Frankensteins.” Guiltiness rests on their conscience, oh yea.
Power to the people. Power in the struggle.
Posted By: Marty
Re: From The Publisher, Amandala - 06/04/11 02:54 PM
“Not seldom in the annals of the past – and how much more often in tragedies never recorded or long-forgotten – had brave, proud, easy-going states, and even entire races, been wiped out, so that only their name or even no mention of them remains.”
- pg. 227, THEIR FINEST HOUR, Winston S. Churchill, Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, 1949.
In listening to the retired BDF officer, Major Lloyd Jones, on Tuesday night’s Adele Ramos Show, I was very, very impressed, but, at the same time, I also had to be slightly skeptical. Major Jones was saying things I have thought and believed for all of my adult life, and yet I had never heard anyone in active political or military authority speak thusly. Major Jones was discussing our national situation from a conventional military perspective, and he was speaking as a Belizean and as a nationalist.
When my generation was growing up in British Honduras in the 1960s, many of us were frustrated by Hon. George Price’s weak reactions to Guatemalan government threats and intimidations. At one point, in fact, Mr. Price had told a foreign reporter that if independence failed, he would give the northern half of the country to Mexico and the southern half to Guatemala. And when the Guatemalan Francisco Sagastume led a small invasion across British Honduras’ southern border with Guatemala in 1961, he only served a year and change in prison before being pardoned.
There was an ethnic flavor, a racist one even, to Guatemala’s threats and intimidations, so that we black youth in Belize felt that we were being “punked.” During the 1960s, we black youth did not know the difference between “Spanish” and Maya. Because we had been educated to be ignorant by schools run by European churches, we arbitrarily identified all Belizeans who were Latin in appearance with what we considered the dominant Guatemalan ethnicity. And, we wondered if “Spanish” Belizeans were as concerned about, and as hostile to, the Guatemalan claim as we black youth were.
In our majority consciousness as black youth in those times, we were supporters of Hon. Philip Goldson’s National Independence Party (NIP), because the issue which drove Mr. Goldson was the Guatemalan threat. At a certain point in the early or middle 1960s, Mr. Goldson began to call for the establishment of a Belizean army. At that time, we had a British army garrison in place at Ladyville, and we also had the British Honduras Volunteer Guard (BHVG). The BHVG marched well and had a fine band, but I do not believe we black youth took them seriously as soldiers. Mr. Goldson was calling for a professional, fighting Belizean army. He was ignored, and the NIP never came close to winning a general election. The NIP were, truly, “Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition.”
A serious, successful move to overthrow Mr. Goldson as the Opposition Leader, began in early 1973, while Mr. Philip was in London studying law. The new Opposition party which was formed in September of 1973, the United Democratic Party (UDP), soon announced that they would be downplaying the Guatemalan claim and focusing on “economic issues.” This was saying, in effect, that Mr. Goldson had been wrong in his approach, and it turned out to mean that the UDP was a party which would fight communism, as a priority.
In ignorant Belize, only a few people knew that there was a bloody civil war raging in Guatemala at the time, that that republic was ruled by a brutal military dictatorship, that the masses of the people were downtrodden Maya and other indigenous peoples, and that all those nationalists in Guatemala who led the people’s fight against oppression and corruption were condemned as “communists.” This was what the Guatemalan government was telling the United States government, so that the Americans would continue sending arms and money to help the generals murder their own people.
The other interesting aspect of the situation in 1973 was that the new UDP quickly announced its support for Israel, which had been an ally of Guatemala’s from the time that Jewish state was founded in 1948, and which had been providing expert military training for the Guatemalan army in the civil war. It was a case, then, of warm friendship among Washington, Tel Aviv and Guatemala City. If the UDP was so cozy with Washington and Tel Aviv, how could it be hostile to Guatemala City?
When the UDP finally came to power in 1984, Mr. Goldson formed a part of their government, but he was already practically blind, and his Cabinet Ministry portfolio was a minor one. Mr. Goldson ended up breaking away from the UDP to form the National Alliance for Belizean Rights (NABR) in 1991, because he believed the UDP leadership was betraying Belize by supporting the Maritime Areas Act.
I believe that when Belizeans come to political and military office here, they are sat down by the Americans and the British and told what they can and cannot do. I believe Belize is being overrun by Guatemalans, both demographically and territorially, and I believe this is what Washington and London want. With respect to the Guatemalan issue, our political and military leaders behave in a colonial manner. I say this because they do what they are told to do by Washington and London, and they ignore the feelings and wishes of the Belizean people.
Belize has changed right before our very eyes. This happened, against the visceral will of the Belizean masses, because our people were ignorant of the realities around us and because we had been made timid by European religion. The previous sentence appears to be expressing contradicting thoughts. I mean to say that yes, we wanted to become an independent nation, but we didn’t want to fight for it.
I could not believe that Major Jones was saying the things he was saying on Tuesday night. I will seek an audience with him to find out some more. I thought he was magnificent in his presentation.Amandala
Posted By: Marty
Re: From The Publisher, Amandala - 06/11/11 02:33 PM
In the year 2011, Belize is now entering what we used to call the “rainy season.” As a matter of background knowledge for our younger generations, the month of June used to be when we would be going back to school after the long holidays in April and May. Since 1964, however, June is when our students and teachers begin their long holidays, and since the change of holidays was specifically designed to have Belize’s school year coincide with the school year in the United States, now we call our rainy season, “summer,” after the American fashion where June, July and August are concerned.
National municipal elections are due in March of next year. With both the ruling UDP and the Opposition PUP still trying to complete their constituency conventions, which are deciding standard bearers for the general elections due in February of 2013, there has been almost no campaigning being done for the municipals. True, they’re nine months away, but, if you think about it, right after the school holidays comes September, after that it’s Christmas, and then bingo – 2012! And, the municipals will be extra important next year, because some political observers here feel that if the UDP win the 2012 municipals in a resounding fashion, Mr. Barrow will not wait for 2013, but rather he will call the generals for the summer of 2012.
Overall, Belize is not an extremely poor country, but we do have a lot of problems associated with poverty. These problems are exacerbated by the fact that we Belizeans have acquired American tastes, which are expensive. Our people are hard to satisfy where political administration is concerned. On the one hand, we voters see the sudden wealth of those who are elected to office because they swore how much they loved the people, and that gets on our nerves. Then, the party in Opposition is always promising cake and caviar, so that by the time we reach this part of Belize’s electoral cycle, 20 months away from general elections, this usually becomes a tricky time for whichever party is enjoying the power of taxation.
Prime Minister, Hon. Dean Barrow, having been ambushed by the striking bus operators at an emergency press conference he called on Friday afternoon, May 27, in Belize City, decided that he would show his power at the Prime Minister’s quarterly press conference this Wednesday afternoon. There are prickly issues apart from the bus transportation power struggles. There is the human rights controversy surrounding the forcible evacuation of the squatters near the proposed new Haulover Creek bridge at Chetumal Street. Then, the government may be on the wrong side of the offshore oil drilling matter. The UDP’s new legislation appears to be going police state where crime and violence are concerned. The giant, Lord Ashcroft, and the Prime Minister remain at war. And now, BEL says it is broke. Under all the duress, Mr. Barrow decided, in the words of Channel 7’s Jules Vasquez, to turn Wednesday’s press conference into a political rally.
Street Belizeans in the old capital have hated the electricity company from the days decades ago when it was BEB (Belize Electricity Board), a government department which became a statutory board before it was privatized. The BEL people have been playing hardball with the government and people of Belize, because they are a monopoly which provides a public utility which is indispensable for most of us. The Barrow government, however, encouraged by a firm and nationalistic Public Utilities Commission (PUC), has been playing hardball right back. The government’s position is popular, because BEL is essentially calling for higher rates, and government, taking sides with the people, is saying no.
So then, Mr. Barrow saved the BEL part of his opening statement for last. His St. George slaying the BEL dragon performance went over quite well, we think, but when the media were allowed to ask their various questions, the “other” issues immediately began to intrude. Mr. Barrow began to feel some pressure.
Because it is that time of Belize’s electoral cycle again, Mr. Barrow’s huge seat majority in the House of Representatives is not as intimidating as it once was. In the Belize City streets on Tuesday morning, various activist groups marched. Their numbers were not large, but their demeanor was determined. The marchers included Citizens Organized for Liberty through Action (COLA), Belizeans for Justice, the Belize Bus Owners Cooperative (BBOC), a group supporting Orange Walk East area representative Hon. Marcel Cardona, and even advocates for the incarcerated Seawell brothers.
Tuesday morning’s was a motley group of marchers, but the mood of Wednesday afternoon’s press conference was new, different. The press conference was edgy. And it is precisely Belizeans like those marchers who have caused the edginess. There are growing pockets of dissatisfaction amongst the people of Belize, while the ruling politicians are becoming defensive. This is the political mood. There is money out there which has interest in some specific results. For sure this summer begins a difficult period for Belize’s democracy.
Posted By: Marty
Re: From The Publisher, Amandala - 06/22/11 02:08 PM
Some of my readers do not like for me to talk about sports, but there is no way you can understand the civil war level of violence amongst young men on the Southside of Belize City unless you have a sense of what happened to the sports programs which used to excite the interest and absorb the energy of our studs back when.
In England, football is a very important sport, so much so that a high ranking member of the royal family is always the president of their Football Association. In British Honduras, the two most powerful commercial business houses in the capital city in my childhood were Brodies and Harleys, and they were both very British. The people who refereed football games largely came from the native element which worked at Brodies, Harleys, and also the very colonial Belize Estate and Produce Company (BEC).
When Dunlop became senior football champions in the city around 1957, 1958, it may have been the most roots organization to dominate football at its highest level. The sponsor of the team, Guy Nord, did not interfere with the team’s activities, so that the management of Dunlop was all Bobby Moore, who was an old gambler and a man of the world, so to speak. None of the Dunlop players were high school graduates: they were what we would call street youth.
But, the football association (“the committee”) and the referees were British in their culture. Those Dunlop players who did not migrate to New York and Chicago, were quickly bought out by BEC, a move which, in a sense, restored “social order” to football.
The team which endangered that social order in the middle 1960s was Independence, sponsored by PUP Leader George Price and led by a former Dunlop player, Louis “Mugger” Garbutt, the late Charles “Qualify” Nicholas, and Serapio “Big Mole” Alvarez. Independence, like Oliver Twist, dared to “ask for more,” more than half of an orange at halftime. Independence asked for money. The offenders were suspended by “the committee.” The story has been buried in history. Randolph “Scalp” Young, however, is still alive.
At what point the referees became professionals, I really can’t say, but in late 1975 or early 1976, when a group of leading first division clubs met at the old Riverside Hall to ask for 15 percent of the gate revenues, referees were already being paid. Berger 404 (Chris Mayen), Charger (yours truly), White Label (Sir Andie), and CrossSpot (represented by the aforementioned “Scalp” Young) voted for money. The only team which said no to money was Landivar, represented by the late Albert Hoy and Raymond Davis.
An incident in the knockout finals at the end of my first season in football, which was the 1972/73 season with Diamond A, had suggested strongly to me that, even in sports, my leadership of UBAD was attracting special and negative attention from Belize’s power structure. I concluded that the most I could hope for with my football teams was to play an attacking brand of ball which would entertain the fans and pack the MCC Garden. I told the players I recruited as much. We will not be allowed to win, but you will get girls.
Fast forward now to 1983. The referees had already become the dominant organization in Belize football. They were led by Delhart Courtenay, a BEC employee who essentially went on to rule football for the next two decades. Football became a sport controlled by the referees and football officials, and the fan support, which is the most important source of recurrent revenues, became inconsistent. This is the core problem in Belize football: the referees and sport bureaucrats are far more powerful than the players and the fans.
In 1983, my father was chairman of Belize’s National Sport Council, and he realized, based on advice, that the playing surface of the MCC Grounds simply had to be re-sodded. He reluctantly decided the football season had to be played at the National Stadium field. (Today, the abuse of the MCC Grounds by trucks, heavy equipment, massive stages, music concerts, and bazaars is shameful, downright sacrilegious.)
There was this one game when BTL, which was Bailar Smith’s team that year, was playing a Dangriga team at the National Stadium. BTL’s hulking Crane Major contested a ball in the air with the Dangriga midfielder Walker Kuylen (who died some years later in a traffic accident). Their heads smashed together, and Kuylen collapsed on the field with epileptic seizures. It was a totally frightening incident: as was usual in football, there were no certified medical personnel on the scene.
It appeared to me that it began to be the norm after that, for Crane and other defenders to seek to intimidate forwards in the air. It is for this reason that I have the greatest of respect for Erwin Contreras, for I saw Crane seek to intimidate him on more than one occasion, and Erwin never flinched.
The thing is that Belize referees never made a conscious decision to protect our forwards in the air. And so, the art of heading the ball in the attacking zone, which had made Ortis Gladden so famous in the 1940’s, became practically a lost art in Belize.
While more than half of all international goals are scored with the head, you will almost never see a Belizean striker score a header in international play. I blame the Belizean referees for this, in the initial instance.
This is only one small example of what has happened here over the last thirty years in football. In Argentina, no referee or bureaucrat is bigger than Messi. In Portugal, Cristiano Ronaldo must be protected at all costs, because it is he whom the fans pay to see. But in Belize, Dr. Chimilio disrespected Tiliman, and he got away with it. Tiliman, if you don’t know, was Belize’s Messi. This is Belize. The players and fans don’t count for that much. We can’t really go anywhere like this.
Posted By: Marty
Re: From The Publisher, Amandala - 07/23/11 02:08 PM
I wish that you had been at Brother Nick’s funeral on Tuesday afternoon in Belize City, to find out how many people’s lives were touched by this humble man and how much he was truly loved. This was a man of great strength, both of body and of mind, but this also was a really gentle man, a man of calm and sensitivity.
Months before he died, Brother Nick asked me to speak at his funeral, the church service for which took place at the Mormon church on Cemetery Road. I believe the formal name for the Mormons is the “Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.” Major controversy surrounds this church in the American black community, but this was the religion where Brother Nick found a home almost thirty years ago, this was the faith which gave him strength as he came to the end, and this was the congregation which stood for him. Yet, Wilfred Nicholas, Sr.’s credentials as a black Belizean revolutionary leader were impeccable.
In 1996, the core remainder of UBAD in Belize City reorganized itself as the UBAD Educational Foundation (UEF). Among the former UBAD officials who were active in UEF were myself, Brother Nick, Rufus X, Lillette Barkley-Waite, and the late Edgar X Richardson. The person who dominated UEF for many years, however, was Dr. Leroy Taegar, who had not himself been a UBAD leader, but who might as well have been, if you understand what I mean.
Like myself, Leroy is not a religious person in the denominational sense of the word. In UEF meetings, there were often sharp exchanges between himself and Brother Nick. Mischievously, I often provoked these exchanges between my two friends, because they made UEF meetings more lively. I knew that no matter how aggressive Taegar became about the failings of the Mormons, Brother Nick could handle it. Brother Nick could handle anything. He had the broadest shoulders you can imagine.
By the time UBAD had come to an end in late 1974, Brother Nick had become the officer to whom I was closest. His solidarity with me was such that I felt that this was a man I would never want to let down in any kind of way. Because of the UBAD incidents on the night of May 29, 1972, in Belize City, Mr. Nick had been terminated from his job at Ismael Gomez’s warehouse on Mosul Street. In 1959, Mr. Nick had married a lady who had four children previously, and by 1972 they had one of their own – the very famous Chickiblue. In 1972, therefore, Brother Nick had major family responsibilities.
In early 1970, when Charles “Justice” Eagan and I began hanging out a lot, Justice used to take me with him when he visited the said Melin Gomez’s business on Mosul. I have never seen an office so disciplined and professional as that one. Justice knew the Gomez family from their poor beginnings in Orange Walk. The late Melin was a stern and serious man, but when Justice entered the office, with me tagging along, Justice behaved as if he was himself the boss.
Of the UBAD people who marched that 1972 day of May 29 which turned into night, Brother Nick was probably the one with the heaviest home responsibilities. Brother Nick was the one who could least afford to lose his job. I think Sergeant George Heusner, the police photographer who made the complaint, may have been assaulted by a crowd and remembered Brother Nick in the crowd around him. Anywhere he was, Brother Nick had this impressive presence that would make you remember him. I can’t believe that Sergeant Heusner totally fabricated his story, but I also don’t believe that Brother Nick assaulted him.
Wilfred Nicholas, Sr., was arrested. Mr. Gomez became impatient with Nick’s legal travails, and fired him. I know that Nick’s wife was angry at UBAD, the organization which was responsible for Nick’s problems, and I could never have blamed her.
My decision to run in the October 1974 general elections as the sole UBAD candidate, was a symbolic one. I felt that I had to do something which would prove to those who were still loyal to me, Brother Nick most prominently, that we had to move on from UBAD. My 1974 defeat in Collet, however, was worse than I could have foreseen, for the UDP blamed me for the wildly popular Ken Tillett’s defeat there by a single vote.
The UDP’s venom reached the point where, when the ruling PUP’s leadership sent the late Ray Lightburn, late 74/early75, to reason with me, I listened. UBAD had been dissolved following the 74 generals. Things were desperate for me. I met privately in Belize City with the Deputy Prime Minister, C. L. B. Rogers (deceased), about four or five times. My most urgent request was that Brother Nick be employed on a regular basis. As a result of Mr. Rogers’ intervention, Brother Nick thus became regularized on the waterfront. This was during the time when the Christian Workers Union, which ran the waterfront, was led by the late Desmond Vaughan, along with the late Mike Rosado.
As I said in church on Tuesday, and I was glad to see Eckert Lewis there, Mr. Nick deserves public, state recognition for his work in boxing and with the youth. It would have been better while he was alive, but they can still do it after he is dead. Mr. Nick never sought fame. What he did, he did from his heart. There were so many of us who admired and loved him. So, the authorities shouldn’t feel that they can’t honor Mr. Nick because that would give old X credit. Hon. Michael Finnegan was in church on Tuesday afternoon. He can testify that Wilfred Egbert Luis Nicholas, Sr., was a hero of the Belizean people.
Power to the people. Power in the struggle. Amandala
Posted By: Marty
Re: From The Publisher, Amandala - 07/27/11 02:57 PM
In the years past, at this newspaper we used to rail about the change of the long school holidays in Belize - from April, May and June to June, July and August. We considered the change to be an injustice perpetrated upon the children of Belize, because the change, which was intended to make it so that the school year in Belize coincided with the school year in the United States, essentially changed the holiday here from the dry season of invigorating south-easterlies to the rainy season of squalls and mosquitoes. The change, initiated in the summer of 1964, meant that Belizean children from the urban areas no longer spent the long holidays at cayes, in coastal villages and in the countryside. Those who could afford it began to fly to American cities for the summer. The children of Belize lost some of the love for Belize which used to be engendered during those school holidays before 1964.
For many years now, we have not complained about the change, because we understand how important it was for Belize’s new rulers in Washington to begin the process of Americanization. You should note that 1964 was also the year of self-government in British Honduras, and the year when the American government first began to give a little foreign aid to Belize. The Americans had ignored Belize previous to 1964, on the grounds that the place was a British colony.
The change of the school holidays, then, while it was effected in the almost casual manner of an afterthought: just a news announcement on the Radio Belize 12:30 p.m. news one day – no debate, no discussion, was an early part of a process which began with the Puerto Rico conference in 1962 and would lead to the Seventeen Proposals in 1968, the Heads of Agreement in 1981, the Maritime Areas Act in 1991, and the Ramphal/Reichler Proposals in 2002. That process, it appears to us, is focused on the oil fields of Belize, the neighboring oil fields in Peten, and the hydrocarbons in the Bay of Amatique.
Before Hurricane Hattie in 1961, we natives, while penurious, felt somewhat important in British Honduras. The British had just sent their MCC cricket team to entertain us the previous year. Our spirit of anti-colonialism and Belizean nationalism was so high that the British had chosen to negotiate constitutional changes with us prior to the March 1961 general elections.
In the half a century since Hattie, we natives chose to become a tiny minority in the United States, a move which reduced us from a majority in Belize to a minority here. In 2011, we do not have that sense of self we enjoyed in 1961, and our overall behavior in Belize now suggests a level of disorientation.
All those years we spent complaining about the change of holidays, and being disappointed about the lack of interest therein on the part of the people of Belize, we were expecting too much from our people. The game being played in Belize since 1961 is a game which just gets bigger and bigger. There is great oil wealth in Belize, but it is going to be difficult to have that wealth shared for the benefit of the people. If you think that some local politicians have become wealthy in the last two or three decades, off things like passports and drugs and land deals, watch what happens when they find two or three more major oil fields in Belize.
The problem is precisely that: all we may be doing is watching, because the oil companies have decades and decades and decades of experience in getting the deals they want from a few local oligarchs – try Saudi Arabia, Nigeria and Equatorial Guinea just for size. Corrupt native leaders send the money they are bribed with to the same Western banks which are owned by the oil companies. The oil leaves the fields of the Third World, but the money remains in the banks of the First. Belizeans, we need to go to school.
Power to the people. Power in the struggle.
Posted By: Marty
Re: From The Publisher, Amandala - 08/07/11 02:31 PM
On more than one occasion in this column, I have explained to you that three decades ago Leroy Taegar told me how really big the Belize game was, and how powerful the players were. It was not that I did not believe him, but that I preferred not to pay any serious attention to him. I did not wish to be intimidated by the facts.
There were major oil companies doing exploration work in British Honduras before the masses of our people had any idea whatsoever of what was taking place. This was back in the colonial days fifty, fifty- five years ago, and the level of our people’s ignorance was truly appalling.
As I have also said to you before, in the sea and fishing circles of the colony in those days when I was a child, we heard that people were “blowing up the reef,” so to speak. It has only very recently been officially revealed where exactly oil explorations, by means of dynamite charges, were taking place in the offshore waters of British Honduras. What’s done is done, they say, but it would be valuable if some institution like Oceana would finance research into the secretive era of initial oil exploration here.
The esteemed and highly knowledgeable Compton Fairweather, CBE, published at least two articles in June 2006 issues of The Reporter, wherein he discussed his employment with Gulf Oil Corporation of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in the business of oil exploration in British Honduras. Personally, I only have the second of these articles, and I will quote some of Mr. Compton’s revelations and opinions in that article.
“My duties with Gulf were to assist and be trained by senior geologist, Dr. Giovanni Flores, on Italian geologist employed by the company.
“We explored every river bank, highway excavation, quarry, cave, sink hole and outcrop we could find between the Sarstoon and the Rio Hondo Rivers, taking samples from the sedimentary rock strata.”
“Yes! We did find oil (called ‘shows’ in the industry) at two locations.
“The best quality was found at Galvez’ ranch between San Ignacio and Benque Viejo, now called Clarissa Falls.
“The other was at the Western Highway and Belmopan junction, now known as the Agriculture Show Grounds.”
“Even today, almost anyone can break the right rock and if lucky can fill a jar with oozing crude oil.”
“As I have indicated earlier, the Southeastern Mexico oil find which was producing 235,000 barrels of oil per day brought Mexico’s daily output to 635,000 barrels per day by the end of 1974, and it is part of the same Cretaceous zone we were exploring in the Yalbac area in the mid 1950’s.”
“It is my honest belief that when Belize achieves an oil bonanza it will be in the Yalbac area.”
In British Honduras in my childhood, there was never any discussion about oil in the newspapers, so far as I can recollect. In fact, all that Mr. Compton was writing in 2006 was news to most adult Belizeans.
This Tuesday morning, on a whim, I drove to Belmopan and visited the Archives building there. Mose Hyde had asked me to help in any way I could with a television documentary project about 1961’s Hurricane Hattie, so I decided to go through the 1961 copies of The Belize Billboard, which was definitely the colony’s leading newspaper at the time. As a matter of fact, Philip Goldson, who became a Nominated Member in the British Honduras Legislative Assembly after the March 1, 1961 general elections, had resigned as the Secretary of the National Independence Party (NIP) in January of 1961 to work full-time on the Billboard. (Mr. Goldson did not run as a candidate in the general elections, which the PUP swept - 18 seats to none for the NIP and none for the CDP.)
In the Sunday, May 28, 1961 issue of the Billboard, there is a front page story, cum photograph, of Mr. Henry Bowman, Sr., with an 8-foot (with sword), eighty-pound sailfish he had caught off Carrie Bow Caye. I believe it is in that same issue of the newspaper, but my notes are not 100 percent clear, that there is this story by Robert Taylor, a Billboard reporter at the time, of a camp at Big Creek where 42 Belizeans and 20 Americans were drilling for oil in the sea on a round-the-clock basis. According to Taylor, the men were employed by “International Offshore Rig Baton Rouge Inc. Los Angeles” and “represented by Phillips Petroleum.” The drilling was taking place about 9 1/2 miles out to sea from the camp. Mr. Taylor even has a picture of two British Honduran natives, Delvin Gordon and Bingham Reneau, with an oil drilling rig.
As I’m thinking about it, my conjecture is that Taylor must have gone south to do the Bowman sailfish story, which was headlined, and drifted into the Big Creek oil drilling encounter. In 1961 in British Honduras, the oil story would have been quaint, is all. I give posthumous respect to the late Mr. Taylor’s reporter’s instincts. His story is another piece in a petroleum puzzle in which Belizean researchers should now be interested.
Posted By: ScubaLdy
Re: From The Publisher, Amandala - 08/07/11 07:55 PM
In one of my chats with Jerry McDermott he told me he first came to British Hondorous hired by an oil company to report back on the possibility of finding oil. Jerry said he fell in love with the country and quit the oil business. I'm sure someone on the board will refute the above - I'm only reporting what I was told. I liked Jerry.
Posted By: bywarren
Re: From The Publisher, Amandala - 08/08/11 12:15 AM
Posted By: Loansum-Al K
Re: From The Publisher, Amandala - 08/08/11 01:07 AM
Harriette, looks like you were right! See ya in a couple of weeks!
Posted By: Marty
Re: From The Publisher, Amandala - 08/14/11 03:10 PM
Ideas and Opinions
This piece is really about Belizean Governments, starting with the Government of the United Democratic Party elected in 1984 and, about nationalism. All the governments, from then and until now, declare when they are seeking power that they would do great things for the country and they would serve the best interests of the people but, they did not. When they are in office for five long years, the interests of the nation are subordinate to the personal interests of individual ministers and to their political party interests.
According to the columnist Searchlight in this week’s El Guardian, the notion that a political party in office should put the national interest above that of the party is noble but unrealistic. I disagree with Searchlight, although I concede that the behavior of all but one government would support her view. The notion is indeed noble but, it is also what the people expect and, are entitled to. No people can become a nation if their leaders, during their foundational years, are dishonorable men. The reason why this is so is this: - The interests of individuals and parties are narrow and limited. The interests of a nation are great and boundless.
I invite Searchlight to consider the dictum: Profster Salutem Nostrum. It means, for the benefit of my readers (not Searchlight), enlightened self-interest. It is enlightened self-interest for a government to put the national interest above that of his party because, in the end, the pursuit of the national interest benefits everyone. Simple logic. It is in keeping with Profster Salutem Nostrum that our government is acting in the matter of our administration of our Public Service Utilities.
The government of Prime Minister, Dean Barrow has declared a policy that government should exercise direct control of our public utilities and, is proposing a constitutional amendment to enshrine this measure for all time. This is putting the interest of the nation above all else and, two of the most affluent and powerful entities have been discomfited. These entities might have been very generous contributors to a party that put its own interests first.
You would have thought that there would have been overwhelming support for the proposed amendment but, that has not been the case. Some individuals and groups think that it will serve a higher cause than that which the amendment seeks. They have objections which have to be dealt with, but, in the end, it has to be accepted that Parliament, with the supreme authority given to it by the people has the ultimate power to act in their name, and no court can prevent it from doing so. Only the people can withdraw the power given to Parliament.
The Third Sex
God made the sexes, male and female and human beings have added a third.
I have great admiration for the proponents, apologists, advocates and practitioners of what was once considered to be abnormal and unnatural behavior and in fact, a perversion. You can’t help but admire their journey from being social pariahs to being firstly, tolerated, then accepted and now, demanding that their activity be approved by society with the sanction of the state. They have come a long way, and deserve to be commended for seizing every opportunity, making the right alliances, joining the right causes and practicing the finest arts of diplomacy.
Following the lead of the Western Democracies, it has been established here that what adult citizens do in their private rooms is their own business. So. If two men live together for a long time, they may reasonably be suspected of engaging in acts, “against the order of nature” but, the police cannot enter their abode to confirm their suspicion. They have a right to privacy. Not satisfied with the status quo, Caleb Orosco and his associates have brought a suit in our court claming that the law which declares, that it is a crime for persons who engage in carnal intercourse against the order of nature, is unconstitutional. Their attorneys submit that the law is unconstitutional because it denies their principals right to privacy. On the face of it, it would seem the applicants’ case has no merit because, it is a fact that in Belize not only are their right to privacy not denied, it is respected however, attorneys for the applicants (one of then is a Queen’s Counsel) would not bring a suit against the Attorney General if they were not confident of the outcome.
The action is against the Attorney General but, in reality is against our Belizean Society. The law, which the applicants seek to have declared unconstitutional, reflects the mores of a society, which is predominantly Christian. The law prohibits carnal intercourse against the order of nature and, therefore, the only question that needs to be settled is whether the act expressing the sexual preference of homosexuals is against the order of nature. Caleb Orosco says that God is not the be all and end all. He is right about that in America and England but, not in Belize. God is in this country. That is why in the preamble to our Constitution (in which resides its Spirit) the supremacy of God is affirmed. Also, it is explicit in the preamble that individual freedoms are limited and the Common Good takes precedence over them.
Let me conclude by referring Caleb and his associates to the immortal words of John Donne. “No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a part of the continent, a piece of the main.” The society (the continent) has the right to set standards of conduct and behavior and, to make rules for its protection, good order and survival. The individual has the obligation to exercise self-restraint in his conduct and behavior. This is what makes a society, cohesive. Without it, things would fall apart.
A Unique Newspaper
There is a weekly newspaper, which name is represented by initials N.P., published in our capital city, Belmopan. It was first issued in August 2008. Since then it has had 158 issues and, in every one of these issues is featured an ad, caricaturing and attacking the publisher of Belize’s leading newspaper, Amandala. In addition, there are regular articles, even editorials, featuring Evan X Hyde, always derogatory.
The paper has two or three competent journalists, whose standing in their profession would entitle them to positions on the editorial staff of reputable national newspapers, well able to pay them what they are worth and, to provide them with the opportunity to make valuable contributions to our national discourse. That they remain with N.P., despite their bright prospects, where they spend much valuable time singing the praises of their publisher and attacking Evan X Hyde is very intriguing, unless, of course, they have their own personal axes to grind and, their cause and their publisher’s is the same.
After reading a few issues of N.P., a discerning reader would have to conclude that the primary purpose for the existence of this paper is to attack the person and his character and, to destroy the reputation of Evan X Hyde. If that is true, that would make the N.P. unique in the history of newspaper publications, would it not? Unique, not in a wholesome, healthy sense but, as a blotch on the honor of the Fourth Estate.
Sir Edmund Burke once wrote that if a society had no internal restraint, it should have to be imposed. So. I have to ask this question. Has the publisher of the National Perspective no self-restraint?
Janus, for Amandala
Posted By: Marty
Re: From The Publisher, Amandala - 08/17/11 01:51 PM
Amandala at 42
August 13 marked the 42nd year of this newspaper’s publication. Since 1981, Amandala has been the nation’s leading newspaper, and we feel proud of this status. Jamaica’s most famous newspaper, The Daily Gleaner, by contrast, has been published since 1834, so on Partridge Street we have to put our accomplishment in humble perspective.
The stunning thing about the August 1969 establishment of Amandala is that it was done without substantial capital formation or orthodox investment. Members and supporters of a young organization called the United Black Association for Development (UBAD) raised about $250 in donations, and the remainder of the money to purchase a Gestetner stenciling machine for $534 from the old British Honduras Distributors, came from a schoolmate of UBAD president Evan X Hyde’s at Dartmouth College. That student’s name was Wallace L. Ford III, and he told Hyde that he had gotten a donation from a Professor of Chinese at Dartmouth by the name of Paul Mirsky.
For many years after the dissolution of UBAD in 1974, Amandala was mostly about editor/publisher Evan X Hyde. But beginning about two and a half decades ago, various members of the family whose patriarch is Charles Bartlett Hyde, 88, began to work at this newspaper. Hyde family members in the structure of Amandala now include the business manager, the editor-in-chief, the sports editor, the copy editor, a proofreader/consultant, and, of course, the publisher.
Amandala is thought to have the ability to influence some percentage points of the voting electorate in Belize. In more concrete terms, a son-in-law and a son of this newspaper’s publisher are three-term area representatives on Belize City’s Southside and senior deputy leaders of the Opposition People’s United Party (PUP).
To sum up, then, when this newspaper takes a firm position on a vital matter in Belize, it has a socio-political effect. The newspaper does not believe it has to take a firm position on every vital matter in Belize. Take the so-called UNIBAM matter, where a select group of Belizean homosexuals, apparently with international support, are seeking to have the ancient Belize laws against homosexuality, revised and updated. The issue is a vital one, because powerful individuals and institutions, led by the Belizean churches, fear UNIBAM has a more advanced agenda, such as same sex marriages, and have come out strong against the UNIBAM initiative. With respect to UNIBAM, this newspaper decided to function editorially in an observer status, one reason being that our core fight against the sexual abuse of children has been pointedly ignored for years by some of these church leaders.
Now to the matter of the 9th Amendment, wherein the Dean Barrow administration wants to ensure that Lord Michael Ashcroft’s battalion of Belizean and British lawyers cannot use the courts to regain control of Belize Telemedia Limited (BTL). Ashcroft gained control of BTL, in the first instance, when the PUP government elected in 1998 allowed him to purchase more than he could legally own according to the original BTL legislation drafted by the then ruling UDP in 1988. The BTL matter proceeded to become a battlefield for lawyers through the years, two reasons being the incredible profitability of the company and the growing arrogance with which Lord Ashcroft began to treat the local politicians.
Using an “Accommodation Agreement” signed secretly and illegally by the previous Prime Minister, Rt. Hon. Said Musa, Ashcroft was refusing to pay income taxes on BTL, and the wrangling between the BTL majority owner and the new UDP administration reached the point where Prime Minister Barrow decided in August of 2009 that it was in the national interest of Belizeans to take the company away from the Lord, and compensate him in due course. Lord Ashcroft’s people, however, had already gutted BTL technologically in order to ensure advantages for a new telecommunications company, Smart/SpeedNet, in which the family of the Opposition PUP Leader, Hon. John Briceño, is prominent.
So then, whereas BTL had been a telecommunications monopoly from before, with Ashcroft refusing to allow Intelco interconnection in 2003, for example, and whereas the same Ashcroft people had been controlling BTL and the new Smart/SpeedNet in a telecommunications duopoly until August of 2009, since August of 2009 the Government of Belize’s BTL, on the one hand, and the Ashcroft Briceño Smart/SpeedNet, on the other, have been locked in fierce competition.
A few weeks ago, Lord Ashcroft’s lawyers won a decision in the Belize Court of Appeal which declared the Barrow acquisition of BTL in 2009 to have been unconstitutional. Lord Ashcroft’s people moved in to take over the BTL compound at St. Thomas Street the same afternoon, but Government of Belize officials regained control before the night was through.
The Government then went back to the House of Representatives seeking to correct the legal flaws in the 2009 acquisition, while they are appealing the pro-Ashcroft Court of Appeal judgement at the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ). Seeking to ensure air-tight national control of BTL (and BEL), Government then introduced the 9th Amendment, which has become crazy controversial.
Lord Ashcroft’s lawyers then went immediately to the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), lodging a case by Ashcroft’s British Caribbean Bank against GOB “asking the court to bar ministers from procuring the Governor General’s signature until further order of the court, because they are challenging the July 4, 2011 re-nationalization of Belize Telemedia Limited (BTL).” (pg. 4, Amandala, Sunday, August 14, 2011)
In the days of piracy in this region, you know, there were pirates whose ships had so many guns they would anchor in the harbor of some towns and demand whatever they chose from the residents. Today, it is appearing to us that, if you have enough lawyers, you can bully, or at least severely inconvenience, the governments of sovereign, but small, nation-states.
At the end of the day, which is projected politically as March of 2013, all the legal technicalities surrounding BTL will end up being resolved by electoral politics. This newspaper’s pre-eminent journalist, Adele Trapp, last week did her usual thorough and precise job in laying out the 9th Amendment legalities and analyzing them.
Support for the Prime Minister’s 9th Amendment initiative has been weakened at the popular level amongst Belizeans because Mr. Barrow is unable to convince some people that the BTL matter is truly a life-and-death issue for him. Mr. Barrow’s style is an above-it-all style. Again, if his lawyers couldn’t get the original BTL nationalization right, who is to say that they are getting the 9th Amendment correct? And when did our Belizean lives become so dominated by lawyers and litigations, and, ultimately, who is to blame for this?
The majority of the Belizean people are not lawyers, and the 9th Amendment arguments quickly became too lofty and convoluted for them. There are some critical bread-and-butter issues with which the Belizean people are battling. Families are struggling, for example, to meet the various expenses for the fast-approaching new school year. At some point, with all the pressure and stress on the people, it is possible that something quite simple, something other than the 9th Amendment, will become quite complicated, and perhaps chaotic.
Power to the people. Power in the struggle.
Posted By: Marty
Re: From The Publisher, Amandala - 08/20/11 03:04 PM
Propter Salutem Nostram
It means enlightened self-interest. During our lifetime, we are going to be faced with a choice between a personal good and that of a group, of which we are a part. If we choose the personal good, there will be personal satisfaction, which may last for a little while. If we choose the good of the group, the satisfaction is multiplied and you will share in it. The latter choice would be in keeping with propter salutem nostram.
Here are some examples where the dictum would apply.
If you are an attorney, especially if you are just beginning your law practice, you would think that it is your good fortune that the level of crime, especially crimes of violence, is so high, because those accused would need to be defended. The established advocates would have more than they could handle so, jobs will be left for you. Hooray for crime. No, my friend, that is shortsighted. Your training does not equip you only to defend criminals. Of course, they are not criminals, not till they are convicted in a court of law and, you can prevent that and be well paid for your services.
Think about this: Have you added anything to the GNP, if your defense of a man accused of murder is successful? In economic terms, service is of value when it is added to a good. Is your service of value when the person you defended did commit murder and is now free? That is not your fault. You believed in his innocence and you were practicing a noble profession but, think of this. At least 95% of accused murderers are guilty. 5% or less are innocent. So. The chances of your successful defense being a service added to a good is about 1 to 19. I will concede that practicing your profession in an administration of justice system is itself a good, though it may have been better for society, in the present circumstances, had your efforts not succeeded.
On the face of it, an ordinary citizen, like myself, would have to say that the high incidence of crime in our country serves the interests of counsels for the defense. So. It is understandable and, has to be accepted that neither individual attorneys nor the Bar Association has any interest in the reduction of crime. Why should they? Unless the dictum, “Propter Salutem Nostram” points to a better way.
There is a better way for the populace and the attorneys. They should use their best efforts to bring it about. They should use their considerable mind power to find ways to reduce the level of criminal activity. A low level of criminal activity will create a climate favorable to entrepreneurs. When there is an increase in ventures, there will be an increase in the establishment of business companies. They will require the services of attorneys to provide legal advice and protection. Then, there will be more job opportunities, which will divert some young people from turning to crime. All this would come about if the legal fraternity could see where lay their enlightened self-interest.
Should a politician who is a member of the House of Representatives always vote with the government side, if he is a member of the majority party or, always with the opposition if he is a member of that party? Career safety says yes. Enlightened self-interest says, not if the question is against the interests of his constituents and, not if it is against the national interest. He is being practical when he stands up for his constituents. He is being true to his oath of office, his conscience and his sense of nationhood if he puts his country’s interest above that of his party. A reputable newspaper columnist in Belize would say he is being noble. I think that his decision would be in keeping with, “Propter Salutem Nostram.”
We have been conditioned to think of the government as the majority party, when the government is really Parliament, that is, the House of Representatives and the Senate.
When the House is in session, it becomes the Legislature. In the House, the government and Opposition sit facing each other and the proposals, usually put forward by the government side, are debated from different points of view. It is the duty of the opposition to point out the flaws in bills or resolutions, and propose amendments, so that the final decisions best serve the people they represent. It would be fair to say that in the House, government and opposition are adversaries but, they have a common objective, the best interests of the nation.
Government and opposition have a relationship outside the House and, the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition often confer, as required by the Constitution and, in the normal course of serving the people. For example, not long ago, the Prime Minister had a meeting with the Leader of the Opposition. At that meeting he proposed that the parties should work together to find the best ways to deal with crime. After consulting with his colleagues, the Leader of the Opposition declined the invitation. He had good reasons for his decision. If he joined in the effort and it failed, the opposition would have a share of the blame. If it succeeded, the government would probably get all the credit. There might have been another reason for his decision, which might not reflect favorably on the opposition, for it is not inconceivable that they may, like the Republican Party in America, wish the government’s efforts to fail.
Would it not have been in the national interest for the elected members of Parliament to join forces to deal with crime? I think the answer is resounding, Yes! I think that if they had, the whole nation would be united in support and, we would not fail.
Had the Opposition accepted the invitation, would you say that they would have been demonstrating “enlightened self-interest,” or being noble but unrealistic? You be the judge.
Support the Government
It is wise and sensible to support the Government. If you are red and the government is blue, why should you support it, when it is the enemy? The government can’t be your enemy, because it represents all the people, and acts for and in our name. It is in the nature of a democracy that there are general elections at decreed intervals, when the people choose, between the candidates of different political persuasions, those that will represent them in the House of Representatives.
The government is not the majority party. The House of Representatives composed of the elected members of all parties and, the members of the Senate, comprise the government. So. It is not proper to say that the government is red or blue, regardless of which party predominates.
This business of enmity or preference for one party or the other, as far as the ordinary citizen in concerned, should apply only during electoral campaigns. After the issue is settled, the government (all the members who take the oath of office) should dedicate themselves to serving the people, which means putting the National Interest above all other considerations.
Now then, if the executive introduces Bills or puts forward resolutions in the House, to carry out the promises in the majority party’s manifesto, why should there be these contentious, sometimes “heaty”, debates between the government side and the opposition side? Here, the term “government” is used to apply to the members of the majority party. There is nothing wrong with that. The bills and resolutions put forward by the government side may have laudable objectives but, the opposition could have strong difference to the form, methods and approaches proposed. It is the duty of the opposition to criticize, propose amendments, or utterly condemn a bill or resolution, even though they share the objectives they seek to accomplish.
The role of a citizen is different; he should support the government in its objectives, regardless of his party affiliation. He should want the government to succeed because, if the government succeeds, the people succeed. He does so by paying taxes, obeying the law and cooperating with public authorities.
I have been dealing with normal times. Now, let us consider the role of the opposition in the House of Representatives and the ordinary citizen in a time of crisis. Specifically, let us focus on the crime situation, which is becoming, if it is not already, a crisis. We have to consider it a crisis, when there are criminal gang members who are armed with AK rifles and grenades, and who are prepared to shoot up people’s homes and throw grenades where crowds are gathered; who if apprehended cannot be convicted because, witnesses will not testify for fear of their lives. There is more but, this should be enough.
The government has an overall plan called “Restore Belize” which includes dealing with crime and, it has proposed what may be called extraordinary measures to the same purpose, which the public has reacted to unfavorably. No other organized body with persuasive power and influence, like the political party in opposition, the Bar Association, the Trade Union Congress, and the Chamber of Commerce, have made any recommendations. It is as if they are saying that it is for the government, only, to solve the problem.
The government has the power to do what is necessary but, though it has a super majority, it is not a dictatorship. They have a term of office which ends in fourteen months. In fourteen months or before, there will be general elections and, a new government will be elected in which, in all likelihood the majority party will not have the numbers to do what is necessary, without opposition support. They will not be able to devise and implement the extraordinary measures which are required to solve this problem.
What is the problem? As I see it, the problem is to break up the gangs, which are criminal organizations. The individual gang members are like the fingers of a hand. When the fingers are clenched into a fist, they become the gang. Therein lies the strength and power of the criminal. The solution is simple: break up the gangs. Not so easy. A law has to be passed making membership in gangs illegal, with the appropriate sanctions. How will it be established that a person is a gang member? There must be a way. It has to be found. Another law must make it illegal for three or more persons to hang out. What about freedom of assembly? What about civil and human rights? They may be impediments standing in the way of achieving a desirable objective. These impediments can be overcome. Individual rights are not unlimited. The fundamental principles on which our constitution rests, declare that the Common Good should prevail over individual rights.
Let me diverge, for a moment, and talk about gangs. They are like a pack pf wolves, which regard the rest of society as sheep. They are predators who have the power to kill (with impunity, it would seem). Their members may be the product of societal forces but they choose to join gangs because it provides them with power, protection and, the association of kindred spirits. To them, murder is not a reprehensible crime, but something they have to do in order to survive. If my assessment is correct, you can see why we have to break up gangs as an order of first priority.
I have some ideas on how to determine who are gang members, in a fair and transparent way; what effective sanctions may be imposed to persuade people to leave gangs voluntarily and, how those listed as gang members without cause may be removed from the list?
You may well ask why a country like America, with all its resources of brainpower and finance, cannot deal with gangs as proposed. My answer is that America is wedded to the Free Enterprise Capitalist system, where every individual and organized body put their interest first. We Belizeans are different. We believe that we are our brother’s keeper and, in the Common Good. That is what we affirm in our Constitution.
The government has to be supported in its efforts to deal with crime in general, by all our citizens but, especially, by those organizations with power and influence, referred to in this article. In regard to the members of the opposition who are in the House of Representatives, they have a duty to support the government in those efforts because, they have taken a sacred oath to do so. If they do not, they do not deserve the title of “Honorable.”
Posted By: Marty
Re: From The Publisher, Amandala - 10/26/11 03:36 PM
Stop, and think this over
“The colonel was assigned to assure ‘air superiority’ – but there was a string attached. He was to do the job with the least possible number of planes. At the same time, he received the similarly contradictory order – which also came to apply to the expedition’s ships, its arms, and its command and control – to make the CIA’s best professional efforts look sufficiently amateurish and shabby so they could be passed off as Cuban. The American sponsorship was supposed to be deniable. ‘Plausible denial’ was the intelligence jargon for the applicable doctrine of clandestinity.”
- pg. 70, BAY OF PIGS The Untold Story, by Peter Wyden, Simon and Schuster, New York, 1979
Our various experiences with the legal system here suggest that there is an unwritten assumption that litigants do not possess unlimited amounts of money. Lawyers are expensive, and overall court costs are expensive, so the average person does not enter into litigation frivolously, or continually. It is costly to initiate and pursue court action, and it is even more expensive, much more expensive, if you lose.
In Belize, It has been hitherto thought, especially outside the realm of possibility, or reality, that a single citizen should own more financial resources than the Government of Belize itself, allowing that citizen to continue appealing every decision, whether a government decision or a legal one, to a higher court and a higher court, ad nauseam. This has never happened before in Belize, until now, so that the present politico-judicial reality in Belize, insofar as matters involving the Ashcroft group, is an unprecedented reality, and it is somewhat disturbing from a sovereign, constitutional perspective. We are looking at a new ball game in independent Belize.
When we, the Belizean people, elect a government according to the rules of the so-called first-past-the-post system we have adopted from the British, what we get is governments which have far more authority/power than you would assume from the actual percentage of the overall votes the particular political party received. In 1979, for instance, the incumbent People’s United Party (PUP) won 13 out of the then 18 seats in the House of Representatives, but they received only 51.8% of the votes cast in the general elections. This was the election which laid the final section of the foundation for a controversial political independence. What our system does is give virtually all the power to whichever of the parties wins the most seats. In fact, in 1993 the United Democratic Party (UDP) won 16 of the 29 House seats, but actually received 2,000 fewer votes than the PUP. The UDP, in a sense a minority government, went on to rule for five years and three months …
In most nation-states of the world, no matter how independent and sovereign, there is usually a substantial portion of the adult population who do not consider themselves government supporters, so to speak. What this means is that if a powerful outside force, whether national or mercenary or investor or otherwise, makes a determined decision to interfere in the administration of that nation-state, the equilibrium of that specific state can be seriously disturbed. Extreme recent cases of this are Iraq in 2003 and Libya in 2011. And remember, all former colonial territories, including Belize, have unresolved tribal issues which divide the population.
Iraq and Libya are not parliamentary democracies, of course. They are former colonial territories which have experienced hereditary monarchies and ended up, in our time, being ruled by strong arm dictators. Hence, when powerful outside forces decided to interfere in the affairs of Iraq and Libya, which are big time oil-producing states, they did so in a violent military manner, but there were dissident elements in both nation-states with whom the powerful outside forces made common cause.
In the case of Belize, which is a parliamentary democracy with a functional judiciary within the British Commonwealth tradition and orbit, if you are a powerful outside force which has a quarrel with the elected government, you always have a strong, established Opposition party with which to ally yourself, and you can also create all kinds of expensive mischief for the government with repeated law suits and higher court appeals.
In the aftermath of World War II, imperialism and colonialism were being condemned all over the colonized world, where the vast majority of the citizens were so-called “people of color.” The colonial powers, dominated by the Europeans, under duress, began to grant political independence to those of their colonies who were agitating for it. But because the former colonies were poor in technology, science, manufacturing, and overall economic productivity, and were also afflicted by the aforementioned tendencies to tribalism and other divisive behavior, political independence became a terrible, bloody experience for many of them, the classic case being that of the Belgian Congo (now Zaire).
Although Belize became independent under a state of emergency, it soon became the norm for us Belizeans to congratulate ourselves on the success of our constitutional change. In recent years, however, the quality of our daily lives in Belize has eroded to the point where more and more of our citizens, older ones especially, can be heard, from time to time, questioning the benefits of our independent status. Specifically, we Belizean citizens do not feel safe in our communities; the forces of lawlessness appear to be more powerful than the forces of law and order.
Now then, at a less violent level, we are engaged in continuing confrontations in the courts, where, if you stop and think it over, the question is whether the billionaire investor Chichester or the elected Prime Minister of Belize is more powerful in critical areas of Belize’s economy and politics. Chichester is a powerful outside force whose Belizean allies are significant. The contest between himself and Mr. Barrow has reached a point where we wonder whether Lord Ashcroft really recognizes, respects, or remembers Belizean sovereignty.
The implications of all the Ashcroft-initiated litigations are substantial for the party politics of Belize. If you stop and think it over, the PUP is becoming like the original National Party (NP), and the UDP is becoming like the original PUP. Stop, and think it over.
Power to the people.
Posted By: Marty
Re: From The Publisher, Amandala - 11/18/11 04:00 PM
Royal Dutch Shell PLC must clean up three-year-old oil spills that have destroyed the livelihoods of tens of thousands of farmers and fishermen in Nigeria’s oil-rich southern delta, Amnesty International said.
Shell acknowledged responsibility for two spills caused by operational issues in 2008, but said that the vast majority of those harming the area are caused by oil thieves and saboteurs.
- pg. A25, Houston Chronicle, Sunday, November 13, 2011
Brazil’s president has ordered a full investigation into an oil spill near an offshore field operated by oil giant Chevron Corp.
Dilma Rousseff says in a statement that she wants a “rigorous investigation” to determine responsibility for the spill near the well being drilled by Chevron’s Brazilian subsidiary.
- pg. A25, ibid.
When I was growing up, Spanish Caye was a very big part of my life. My father’s younger sister owned the northern half of this caye, and my mother’s relatives owned the southern half of the island, so I figured I would always have a place there. If any problems arose in the future with one side of the family, there would always be the other side. Or, so I thought. Well, since those days of innocence in the 1950s and 1960s, problems have arisen with both sides of my family, and I no longer have a place at Spanish Caye. But, more devastatingly, the pristine nature of the precious sea around us has been violated by the overwhelming swarms of visiting human beings, and the modern lifestyle which rules – powerboats, plastics, cruise ships, fertilizer/pesticide runoff from the mainland, and so on and so forth. (Check out Trevor Vernon’s article in this issue of Amandala.)
I consider myself a raging environmentalist, but one cannot absolutely reject the benefits and comforts of modern science and technology. A New Yorker by the name of John L. Stephens, traveling as a passenger in a sailing brig, visited these here parts in 1839/1840, “these here parts” being the settlement of Belize, Honduras, Guatemala, and southern Mexico, and he wrote about his travels. One of the things which will strike you if you ever read his book is the amount of people in this region who were dying of different fevers in those days. Whether these fevers were malaria or dengue, he wouldn’t have known. Medical science was poor in those days where malaria and dengue were concerned. In fact, instead of “poor,” you can pencil in “non-existent.”
When I was growing up, however, DDT had been discovered as a chemical which would kill the anopheles mosquito which carried the malaria it had picked up by biting malarial individuals, and infected healthy people with its bites. Every few months or so, families would have to cover up everything in their homes, we would have to go outside, and the malaria eradication people would come into your home and spray the place with the whitish DDT. If you actually contracted malaria, they could save you with quinine and related drugs. So, as a raging environmentalist, would I want to live in 1839/1840 when this area was absolutely pristine but they were helpless where malaria was concerned? I don’t think so.
Anyhow, I think, totally as a matter of surmise, that Spanish Caye originally ended up being owned in the first half of the twentieth century by members of the Hyde and Belisle families because it was such a devilishly difficult place to reach from Belize City. The trip was only nine miles plus, but the prevailing winds in Belize during the dry season are blistering southeasterlies. When I was a child, we mostly used sailboats, and Spanish Caye was due south, or maybe even south by southeast. So you had to sail almost directly into the strong winds and the brutal waves. If you went by motorboat, people would often be violently seasick because of the battering of the waves. This was, most times, a rough ride from the city to the caye. Going to islands like St. George’s Caye, Caye Chapel and Caye Caulker was usually a lark compared to the trip to Spanish Caye.
Again, Spanish Caye was not one of those beautiful sandy cayes like Goff’s Caye where you had a beautiful beach to enjoy and iridescent waters for swimming. Spanish Caye had grass and conch shells and mangrove and sea eggs (white and black) in the waters offshore. This was not your ideal place for swimming, trust me. But, Spanish Caye had the finest fishing on planet earth. This was in the time, five and six decades ago, before the dynamiting for oil, Hurricane Hattie, the diving for lobster, the gill nets, and the uncontrolled sewerage of cruise ships.
The fishing was so good at Spanish Caye we “picked and chose” what we ate. We didn’t eat grunt, paagy, or yellow tail, and sometimes we even “cut our style” with grouper, barracuda and jack. We ate silk snapper, red and black snapper, kingfish, mackerel, and rock fish. These were the cream of the crop.
A lot of the cooking was done on fire hearth, and the deliciously pungent smell of the “mangro” (mangrove) wood burning sweetly in the evening breeze as “johnny cakes” and “powder buns’ were baking in black iron pots, is a golden memory for I. Slowly, indoor cooking on kerosene stoves began to take over, but the old days were ruled by fire hearth.
One aspect of those spring and summer days at Spanish Caye that we took for granted was our safety. It was similar walking home your girl friend in Belize City streets after the movies or dances. We took our safety for granted. Is it because we were a British colony that we were safe? This is the question which “bugs” black-conscious people like myself.
Spanish Caye was a rare privilege that I enjoyed as a member of a brown-skinned, Creole family in Belize City. Where Spanish Caye was concerned, we were the happiest and most fortunate people on the earth. I believe that was how we saw it then. For sure we can see it now.
When the U.S. Consulate here gave me a scholarship to study in America, one of the beautiful things about the scholarship was that they promised they would fly me home every summer for the holidays. A little while before that first summer vacation, in June of 1966, however, the foreign student advisor at Dartmouth, Col. Harold N. Moorman, broke the bad news. I wonder who decided to renege on the promise to fly me home, and why. I ended up fumbling around in Brooklyn until classes resumed in September. I wonder how different my life would have been if I had come home to Spanish Caye in 1966. This is how I know I’m old nowadays. I spend time thinking about things like that. Who made that decision, and why?
Whatever, whatever, whatever. Blessings on our Garifuna brethren and sistren on Settlement Day. Ubafu houn gereigia.
Posted By: Marty
Re: From The Publisher, Amandala - 11/23/11 03:56 PM
The percentage of independent voters in the Belizean electorate is much more today than in October of 1974, say, when the general election results in the old Collet constituency suggested that the percentage of hard core independent voters may have been around 4 percent. The results of the 2009 municipal elections in Belmopan suggest that the percentage of independent voters in Belize may now be as high as 20 percent in specific areas.
The reasons for the huge increase in independent voter percentage include the 18-year-old vote (introduced in 1978), the great increase in the amount of citizens educated to the tertiary level and beyond, the introduction of cable television to Belize in 1982, and the present philosophical vagueness of the programs of the two major political parties.
Six decades ago, it was very clear what the People’s United Party (PUP) wanted, and what the National Party (NP) represented. In 2011, however, the PUP is not sure where it is going, except that it wants to return to national power, while the United Democratic Party (UDP) has definitely moved in a populist direction as it seeks a second term in national office. The PUP of 2011 is definitely different from the PUP of 1950, while the UDP of 2011 is definitely different from the NP of 1951.
The present ruling faction of the PUP recognized the importance of the independent vote when they began to publish the National Perspective two years ago. At the same time, the National Perspective was lobbying for the return of that aforementioned ruling faction to power in the PUP leadership. Remember, the present ruling faction of the PUP lost intra-party control when John Briceño became Party Leader in March of 2008.
The National Perspective has gone out of print and is now on the Internet. This “demotion” took place at precisely the same time that a new newspaper, The Independent, began publication three weeks ago. The name of The Independent indicates the aim of its unnamed financiers. They want to convince independent voters that the publication is not PUP-owned, so that the newspaper can influence some of the independent vote.
By definition, mass political parties include, under their philosophical umbrella, factions which are practically disparate. When the PUP won a big landslide victory in 1998 and returned to office, it is safe to assume that they enjoyed trade union support. By late 2004, however, the PUP’s flagrantly neoliberal policies had cost them the union vote, so that the party began to lose elections in 2006.
The PUP has been unable to bring real heat on a UDP government which is suffering from the worldwide economic downturn, because the PUP have not recovered the union support they enjoyed before 2004. It is true that the business sector in Belize is not happy with the Barrow administration, but the trade unions are still quiet. This does not mean they are happy, but there is no indication that the unions are in any kind of marching mood.
With Belize just 14 weeks away from national municipal elections, the independent voters have yet to show their hand. In 1998, it was obvious that the independents were going blue from long before general elections, and in 2008 it was obvious from 2006 that they were going red. It is late November, and we still don’t know where the independents will go in March.
Power to the people.
Posted By: Marty
Re: From The Publisher, Amandala - 11/26/11 02:18 PM
From then, until now …
Between 1998 and 2004, Belize had a fiesta and the PUP won two general elections. Belize borrowed and spent a lot of money during that period, and, as a result, Belize now owes a lot of money. Because the electorate could not really see that the money had been spent constructively, Belizeans began to vote against the PUP in 2006, a trend which has continued up to the present.
In that 1998-2004 period of plenty, this newspaper was essentially a supporter of the PUP, and we would like to explain how this happened. There is no part of the world, except in Belize, where you can find that the leading newspaper began from nothing, so to speak. Newspaper infrastructure is expensive. Newspapers require major capital investment, so Amandala, which began publication in 1969, is an anomaly.
In the specific environment of 1969, this was a black-conscious newspaper which had socialist friends, namely, Assad Shoman and Said Musa. These two socialists joined the ruling PUP in the early 1970s, and in 1973 the UBAD organization which had established Amandala, split in two. Half the UBAD leadership joined the new UDP, while the other half, which included Amandala, remained independent.
Said Musa decided in 1977 to become a business partner of Amandala’s, and that proved to be a wise political decision. At critical moments in his political career - 1979, 1989, 1998, and 2003, Mr. Musa was supported by this newspaper.
Belize is a small place, and sometimes things got personal. In 1981, Amandala had a quarrel with the ruling PUP, which included Mr. Musa in its Cabinet, and the newspaper ended up being a significant part of the UDP push which installed Manuel Esquivel as Prime Minister in December of 1984. By 1987/1988, however, the relationship between Mr. Esquivel and this newspaper had become hostile, and that hostility flared up again in the 1993 general election campaign.
It was because of the seriousness of that hostility that this newspaper “was essentially a supporter of the PUP” between 1994 and 2004. Amandala was not really cognizant of the fact that the previously socialist Said Musa had become a confirmed neoliberal. We’re not making excuses for anything. In fact, while we think our rivalry with Dean Barrow/Michael Finnegan, dating back to 1973, 74, was in the natural order of things, for the life of us we can’t figure out for sure how this hostility between ourselves and Mr. Esquivel became so serious. We can see ideological differences between Mr. Esquivel and ourselves, but how did it become personal? We are making allowance for the possibility that the fault was ours.
Today, Rt. Hon. Manuel Esquivel is a political relic, but Mr. Musa remains very much on the scene. We have to assume that he was a part of the decision making in the PUP leadership which led to this week’s exclusion of Mark Espat and Cordel Hyde from the national executive of the PUP. On our part, we had been friends with Mr. Musa for so long we could never see ourselves getting into a personal dispute with him. Our differences today are philosophical. At this newspaper, we never considered ourselves socialist back then, and we definitely do not consider ourselves neoliberal today.
It appears, on the face of it, that the PUP intends a return of their halcyon days of 1998 to 2004. For this to take place, the PUP would have to convince the Belizean electorate that that electorate has been making a mistake since 2006. The PUP needs to convince the electorate that the fault lies with Mark and Cordel. The tactic of accusing them of being “Kremandala,” does not work on the ground. It may work inside the PUP, but outside here, just what exactly is so toxic about Kremandala, why is it so evil? Again, how could Kremandala have survived and grown if it has not been supported by the people? Remember, we started from nothing.
Power to the people.
Posted By: Marty
Re: From The Publisher, Amandala - 12/07/11 03:20 PM
I’m halfway through a book Dr. Dennis Young brought for me on Sunday. The work is entitled MISUNDERSTOOD CAUDILLO: Miguel Ydígoras Fuentes and the Failure of Democracy in Guatemala. The author is Roland H. Ebel, a retired professor from the Political Science Department of Tulane University in New Orleans.
Ydígoras Fuentes was president of Guatemala from 1958 to 1963. The “recovery” of Belize was a major part of his political agenda, so that his name was a fearful one for most of us who were growing up in British Honduras at the time.
It was during Fuentes’ presidency that Francisco Sagastume Pérez, a “Christian Democratic university politician,” crossed Belize’s southern border, burned the Union Jack, and raised the Guatemalan flag. Sagustume was leading “a group of adventurers and students” early in 1961.
Three years before, Fuentes himself, while visiting the Department of El Peten, crossed over into Belize on April 16, 1958. He was accompanied by the presidents of the Guatemalan Supreme Court and the Congress. “Requesting that the sergeant on duty obtain permission from the British Governor for the party to proceed to the Belizean town of Cayo, some three miles away, he had his picture taken in front of the police barracks in Benque Viejo brandishing his ‘entry permit’ – a copy of the Guatemalan constitution. When permission to proceed further was denied, he calmly returned to the Guatemalan side of the border proclaiming, ‘Belize will be ours by right or might.’” (pg. 136, MISUNDERSTOOD CAUDILLO, Roland H. Ebel, University Press of America, 1998)
I think that if we Belizeans had known that the Americans had made an informal agreement with Fuentes, in return for his allowing Guatemala to be used to train Cuban exiles for the invasion of Castro’s Cuba, to support Guatemala’s claim to British Honduras, that we would have been much more alarmed than we already were. For some reason, Fuentes’ 1961 New Year’s speech didn’t make the headlines here, as far as I can remember. “… he dropped one of his characteristic bombshells: he stated that the Kennedy administration had agreed to use its good offices to convince Great Britain to settle the Belize question in exchange for the secret training camp he had provided for the Bay of Pigs invasion.” (pg. 261, ibid.)
When I finish the book, I will talk some more with you. For now, here’s my point. In 1961, I was a 14-year-old high school student. I was an uninformed, brown-skinned, middle class Creole. “Uninformed” means I absolutely didn’t know the difference between “Spanish” and “Maya.” I didn’t know anything about the Caste War, and I didn’t know anything about the Mexican Revolution. I didn’t know anything about the United Fruit Company, and I had never heard of Francisco Morazán or Rafael Carrera. I knew nothing about Ubico, Arévalo, or Arbenz. All I knew was that we were scared of Guatemala.
I’m talking about brown-skinned, middle class Creoles living in Belize City in 1961. The British had us where they wanted us, so they “played” us. Vaguely “Afro-Saxon” as we were, we were used by the British to fight against the nationalist, anti-colonial movement here.
The Guatemalans were not in a position to launch a real invasion of British Honduras. Firstly, British intelligence in Guatemala City would have known about it before it even became organized. Secondly, the British have warships cruising in these regional waters as a matter of course, as was demonstrated in 1948. Thirdly, the Guatemalan military is important in the maintenance of law and order in Guatemala, because this is a nation which is in a state of permanent civil war. Guatemala is really two nations. One is a very wealthy, neo-European, First World state, and the other, very much Third World, is comprised of oppressed, desperately poor, indigenous people.
The indigenous people are the Achilles heel of Guatemala’s ruling classes. The indigenous people have not been integrated into the body politic. At Kremandala, over the last few years we have nurtured the indigenous Belizean voice of Clinton Uh Luna. Most of our people who have remained “Afro-Saxon” don’t want to hear anything he has to say or have anything to do with him. This is because they are uninformed. They are uninformed about the indigenous.
In the authorized biography of the Rt. Hon. George C. Price, Godfrey Smith writes that Mr. Price considered UBAD and PAC to be “nuisances” and “distractions.” Well, the two PAC leaders became PUP Cabinet Ministers in 1979, and one of them became PUP Leader in 1996, and Prime Minister from 1998 to 2008. The UBAD leader, well, he works at Kremandala, you see. And what Kremandala does, is provide information to the Belizean people on the regional and international real. We’ve been doing that since 1969. God willing, we’ll keep on keeping on …
Power to the people.
Posted By: Marty
Re: From The Publisher, Amandala - 01/18/12 03:16 PM
The former Prime Minister/PUP Leader Hon. Said Musa, area representative for the Fort George constituency, made a very big mistake in the House of Representatives last Friday. He got carried away and condemned the attempt by some senior staffers at the Social Security Board to get their mortgages below $50,000 so as to make themselves eligible for the Prime Minister’s write-off, as “real” corruption.
Things happen so fast in Belize in the third millennium, you know, most of us remember very little about the details of the national rebellion in Belize which took place in late 2004 and early 2005, and forced Mr. Musa’s government to allow hearings into the goings on at the Social Security Board and a nationally televised commission of inquiry into the abuses at the Development Finance Corporation (DFC).
Merlene Bailey-Martinez came into the national spotlight because she was the panelist appointed to the three-member DFC commission of inquiry on the recommendation of the then Opposition UDP.
What we remember vividly about the DFC hearings is that this was a militant demand by the trade unions of Belize to which Mr. Musa, under duress, had to agree.
After the DFC hearings, those who would have been most in legal danger, filed injunctions to prevent the proceedings being used as a basis for prosecution. It was all legal “tricknology” after the hearings, and, to tell the truth, we don’t remember the details. In the court of public opinion, the damage had been righteously done, and, Belize being the corrupt society that it is, we could not have expected that the DFC felons would have been “bangled.” They came, you see, from the highest places in Belizean society, and Belize is a place where big people don’t go to jail.
Had those dramatic hearings become a basis for prosecutions, had they remained in the public eye and consciousness, Merlene Bailey-Martinez would probably not have committed the indiscretion she is alleged to have committed. The DFC felons got away with hundreds of millions of Belizean taxpayers’ dollars. Merlene merely tried to make herself eligible for mortgage relief. The problem was that she was taking advantage of information available to her only in her capacity as the chief executive officer at the Social Security Board. This was wrong. It was not real corruption. Real corruption took place at the DFC in the years between 1998 and 2004.
We are hereby requesting that our editorial staff, as a result of Mr. Musa’s accusation in the House on Friday, do a rehash of the SSB hearings and the DFC commission of inquiry so that we, the people, can remember what real corruption was like.
The way the PUP has historically operated is that once one of their own does something, no matter what, then it is well done. “Touch one, touch all.” No matter how guilty one of their own is proven to be, the party is expected to defend him or her. This is a criminal mentality. It is a gang mentality. But, historically, this mentality has worked for the PUP.
The UDP, for their part, behave with a self-righteous posture and approach. They hold themselves up to an unrealistic standard of purity. The problem is that the masses of the Belizean people have historically been victims of institutionalized racism and oppression. We suffered racism and oppression at the hands of the British, who themselves behaved as if they were paragons of virtue when they were not. When the Belizean people began fighting for their freedom, it was “by any means necessary.” The UDP’s Pharisaical attitude was irrelevant.
Today, however, we run our own money. We are a sovereign, independent nation. No political party will be allowed to repeat what the PUP did at the SSB and the DFC between 1998 and 2004. If this is allowed to happen again, then we Belizeans are suckers and fools.
All power to the people.
Posted By: Marty
Re: From The Publisher, Amandala - 02/08/12 02:45 PM
I left you last weekend where I had decided, in a desperation no doubt immature, that I had to go to New York City to see the Freedom Committee after the ruling PUP smashed the NIP/UBAD coalition in the December 1971 Belize City Council elections.
The importance of this period in Belizean history is trying to figure out what happened to Mr. Goldson (Hon. Philip), and when exactly it was decided, and who exactly it was that so decided, to replace him as Leader of the Opposition. In the December 1969 general elections the PUP had demolished the NIPDM coalition, 17-1. Only Mr. Goldson had won his constituency, retaining the Albert seat he had first won in the 1965 generals. Mr. Goldson was Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives – a one-man army. He was a legitimate national hero, going back to his sedition imprisonment in 1951 and coming up to his inspiring 1966 and 1968 battles against the Thirteen Proposals and Seventeen Proposals, respectively.
I knew something was wrong because, from the time I entered St. Mary’s Hall for the December 1971 CitCo counting, approaching 9 p.m., until I left the counting hall around 7 a.m. the following day, I never saw Mr. Goldson. I have been told that he looked in at St. Mary’s briefly before I had arrived.
Looking back, I realize that my decision to go see the Freedom Committee meant that I had taken up the PUP gauntlet, big time. But, that PUP gauntlet had been thrown down in February of 1970 with my sedition arrest, so that it wasn’t as if the Freedom Committee move was a really radical one. Still, the gauntlet had become an overtly political one for UBAD with our December 1971 CitCo run. In politics, you require materia de guerra, and The Big Apple was where it was.
Again, I suppose it was because of his strange non-appearance while I was at St. Mary’s Hall that I did not consult Mr. Goldson about my trip. I was just 24 years old, and the PUP had pricked my youthful pride with their heckling the morning after the counting at St. Mary’s. In fact, the PUP stalwart Darrell Carter, who was a child accompanying his PUP grandmother at the time, has declared to me that he saw me crying that morning. Very, very doubtful, Darrell, and I would say wishful thinking on your part, because we UBAD were surrounded by young sisters, and they were all “fine like wine with a great design.”
Anyway, there was a very big problem for me with the New York trip. I have a bad plane phobia, which is a combination of a fear of heights and a fear of being enclosed. Because of my plane phobia, which became evident to me as I was preparing to fly for the first time, in August of 1965 to the States to study, I knew that I could never have a political career, even had I so desired, and I had not. In government, you have to fly to transact official business. You can’t be taking buses and boats all around the place.
Norman Fairweather, the UBAD secretary-general, was supposed to accompany myself and Ismail Shabazz to New York, but he decided against it at the last minute. I was already committed, so Shabazz and I drove to Corozal, and caught a bus to Mexico City from Chetumal. I never questioned Norman about his last minute change of mind, although this was a great disappointment. Norman had the magic Fairweather name, and would have guaranteed us success in New York.
I appreciated the delicacy of Norman’s position. His sister was married to the conservative PDM Leader, Dean Lindo, and, generally speaking, Norman’s socio-politics was openly roots, whereas his family was highly respectable. It may have been that Norman didn’t want to waste his time travelling by bus from here to Los Angeles to New York, and that would have been quite understandable.
Shabazz and I reached Los Angeles in the early winter of 1972, and tried to make contact with the Freedom Committee’s Compton Fairweather to get financial assistance in making our way from L.A. to New York. We could not make that contact, so the late Edgar X Richardson, a former UBAD officer who had migrated to Los Angeles in September of 1970, loaned us $100 to buy bus tickets to New York.
The token assistance we received in New York was as follows. Compton took us to a Freedom Committee executive meeting, then he held a Freedom Committee public meeting where $250 was raised to finance our bus passage back home. In addition, Compton bought a second hand motor for us to use on our ancient Chandler & Price letter press, which we had been forced to convert to pumping by hand. The motor didn’t work on our press.
So, all in all those five weeks Shabazz and I spent on the road had been a bust. In retrospect, we two did not figure in the Freedom Committee’s plans, despite all the persecution we had suffered at the hands of the ruling PUP.
When Ismail and I arrived back in Belize in early February, Mr. Goldson had already left for London to study law. His wife, Mrs. Hadie Jones Goldson, took the couple’s six children and went to New York to work and live. The couple did not resume their marriage life until after the UDP came to power in 1984.
When the UDP was formally established in September of 1973, Mr. Goldson was still studying in London. It was generally understood that Mr. Lindo was the new Leader, but it could not be announced because Mr. Goldson’s supporters would have raised a fuss.
In our weekend issue, I will speak of how the Unity Congress, the precursor of the UDP, broke the UBAD Party in two in early 1973, and condemned me to being a villain amongst the same young people for whom I had been a hero from 1969 to 1972. Amandala
Posted By: Marty
Re: From The Publisher, Amandala - 02/11/12 01:03 AM
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.
Posted By: Marty
Re: From The Publisher, Amandala - 02/29/12 03:20 PM
A week or two before the Prime Minister actually called the 2012 general elections, I met on the Kremandala rooftop with all the employees of our member organizations. I believe that such a meeting may have been unprecedented. We have had various social events over the years which involved all our workers, but not a business meeting as such.
I told our people that the indications were several that the Prime Minister would call the general elections for the same date on which the municipal elections were scheduled. I said that Kremandala would be supporting Mark Espat and Cordel Hyde, but overall we would not take sides in the elections. I explained that there had been general elections before, such as in 1979 and 1984, when I had believed that I would personally be in serious problems if a specific side won, and therefore I had worked very hard for the other side. But, in 2012, I believed that Kremandala would survive no matter what.
Last week the PUP newspaper, The Belize Times, published, in toto, a letter to Amandala from Mr. Lynn Young, the chief executive officer of Belize Electricity Limited (BEL) during the Fortis years. This was a decision by The Times which exposed a certain amount of venom on their part. The Times should have edited that letter.
Mr. Young was responding to an editorial in this newspaper which questioned his personal, high-profile involvement in “Friends of Belize,” a group which met in Washington, D.C., recently. We suggested to Mr. Young that the proper representative in Friends of Belize should have been the Fortis boss, Stan Marshall, not himself.
Mr. Young chose to defend his position. He did so vigorously, and he did so disingenuously. He did so disingenuously because he tried to undermine the accomplishments of the Kremandala Raiders, a semi-professional basketball team which dominated the sport for many years. He did so vigorously, and excessively we thought, by referring to a previous situation wherein he had paid this newspaper in order to respond to claims made by attorney Rodwell Williams, the chairman of the board of BEL, in an article by the assistant editor of Amandala. In that instance, Mr. Young approached the business manager of this newspaper, and he did so “checkbook in hand.” That is her recollection of the matter.
In the present instance, Mr. Young sent a letter to the Amandala editor in which he snidely wondered if he would also have to pay for this letter to be published. We chose to remove the more offensive sections of the letter, those referring to the Raiders and the paid response to Mr. Williams’ charges, and published the bulk of Mr. Young’s response.
In matters like these, one presumes that the “plaintiff” will copy his letter to the other newspapers. Of the other newspapers, it was only The Belize Times which chose to publish Mr. Young’s letter to the Amandala editor, and they did so, apparently with relish, under the head: “Lynn Young strikes back.”
The attitude of The Times suggests to us that we are considered under the category of “hostiles” by prominent people in the political party which publishes The Times. In fact, we were reminded of the National Perspective. Kremandala is supportive of, but not responsible for, the actions of Mark Espat and Cordel Hyde. We have preserved, we think, a fairly balanced neutrality in this campaign. The Times’ decision last week, however, means that we have to expect negativity if a PUP government is formed in March.
A similar thing took place in 1993, though the fact that Amandala endorsed the PUP’s Jose Coye in Caribbean Shores was indeed a provocation to the UDP. Kremandala did not actively participate in the 1993 general elections, but the UDP government which came to power on July 1, 1993, almost immediately began treating us as a hostile.
Fair enough. Politics is war, and “all’s fair.” It is always good to be advised of the intentions of one’s adversary before combat is joined.
Power to the people. Amandala
Posted By: Marty
Re: From The Publisher, Amandala - 03/03/12 02:51 PM
… 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
Posted By: Marty
Re: From The Publisher, Amandala - 03/17/12 02:07 PM
“Even among colonial horror stories, the atrocities of King Leopold II’s rule in the Congo stand out. Studies like Adam Hochschild’s ‘King Leopold’s Ghost’ (1999) have shown in vivid detail the venal cruelty that rendered life for the Congolese so wretched that they might have envied the Africans sold into overseas slavery in previous centuries.
“The fate of the Congo was the more bizarre because it was not technically a colony. It belonged to Leopold personally, not to Belgium. Still, the Congo was recognized as a Free Trade state by treaties with the United States, Germany, Britain and other nations. So notorious did Leopold’s regime become – thanks to the polemics of Mark Twain and the lurid revelations of the explorer Henry Morton Stanley and the diplomat Roger Casement – that the king was forced to hand the Congo over to the Belgian state in 1908, shortly before his death the following year.
“From then until independence was abruptly granted in 1960, the Congo was one of the many African colonies quietly administered by European nations.”
- from a review by Martin Rubin, published in The Wall Street Journal of Monday, March, 2012, of Matthew G. Stanard’s Selling the Congo (University of Nebraska Press, 387 pages)
“The European elite undertook to manufacture a native elite. They picked out promising adolescents; they branded them, as with a red-hot iron, with the principles of Western culture; they stuffed their mouths full with high-sounding phrases, grand glutinous words that stuck to the teeth. After a short stay in the mother country they were sent home, whitewashed. These walking lies had nothing left to say to their brothers; they only echoed.”
- pg. 7, PREFACE by Jean-Paul Sartre to The Wretched Of The Earth, Frantz Fanon, Grove Weidenfeld, 1963
Compared to electoral politics, editorializing has what may be described as an advantage, in that editorializing is mere opinion whereas electoral politics involves, and usually demands, performance. On the other hand, there is a downside to editorializing, because you can only say the same thing in so many ways so many different times. After a while, there is a measure of futility built into the very concept of editorializing.
In places like Great Britain, the United States, Italy, Belgium and the other parts of the world where the rulers of planet earth reside, the wealthy and powerful people who are the rulers believe that the planet belongs to them. At least, that is the way they behave.
There are many nation states of Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean which were colonies of the rulers until the post-World War II era, when the rulers had to begin granting their colonies something called “independence,” which turned out to involve symbols and did not really constitute freedom. These new nation states acquired flags and anthems and ceremonies, but they did not really acquire effective power over their resources.
In theory, the Congo owned its mineral wealth after independence and the Nigerian people owned their petroleum resources post-independence, but strategic pressures and financial bribery, designed in the war rooms of the Western rulers, resulted in the creation of a small minority of natives who ignored the best interests of their peoples and themselves became obscenely wealthy working for the companies and institutions of the same people who had once colonized them. Frantz Fanon described these small native minorities as the “national bourgeoisie,” and some scholars referred to the “new world” of supposedly decolonized nation states as “neocolonialism.”
In former British colonies like Jamaica and Belize, there is a political system called parliamentary democracy which is always dominated by two major political parties. In the case of Jamaica, these are the Jamaica Labor Party (JLP) and the People’s National Party (PNP). In Belize, these are the People’s United Party (PUP) and the United Democratic Party (UDP). The political system featuring two major parties results in the peoples of such nations being always divided, no matter what the issue. Real change never takes place, and apparently concrete progress almost always turns out to be illusory.
In Belize last week Wednesday, we had general elections which returned the UDP to office. In Jamaica at the end of last year, there were general elections which replaced a JLP government with a PNP one. In Jamaica, the JLP is the more pro-business party, while the PNP is more roots. In Belize, it was the UDP which used to be more pro-business, and the PUP which used to be more roots. These roles have been reversed in Belize. It is the PUP which is now more pro-business, and the UDP which is now more roots.
Be that as it may, there were nationalistic things being done in the economy by the UDP in their previous term which were considered acts of hostility by institutions and companies based in the ruling West. When these institutions and companies expressed their disapproval, they were supported by the national bourgeoisie of Belize. The nationalistic initiatives implemented by the UDP were considered beneficial by the masses of the Belizean people, and so the UDP won a second consecutive term last Wednesday, though barely.
In Jamaica in the 1970’s, a PNP Leader by the name of Michael Manley tried to take Jamaica down the nationalist road of self-sufficiency. This incurred the wrath of the Western rulers, and they retaliated by destabilizing Jamaica in socially and financially devastating ways. The Jamaican society and economy collapsed, and the PNP fell to Eddie Seaga’s JLP.
Once you embark on the nationalist road, as Jacobo Arbenz did in Guatemala in 1951 and as Fidel Castro did in Cuba in 1959 and as Hugo Chavez has been doing in Venezuela in the third millennium, then you have to prepare yourself and your people for dire happenings. In the case of Arbenz, when the dire happenings began, he decided against arming the Guatemalan people and essentially went quietly into exile. Castro had fought and won a revolution, so when the dire happenings began, his people were already armed, and the Cubans have continued fighting for their nationalism and self-sufficiency up to the present day.
The reality in Belize is that half of our children every year enter the streets to try to make a living somehow. The vast majority of them have to become criminals. Entering the September business/holiday season last year, the UDP government took emergency measures to control crime and violence in the nation’s population and business center. Since they decided soon after that to call general elections, they continued the September emergency measures. These measures are not sustainable, because the national bourgeoisie, while benefiting from the measures where Belize’s business climate is concerned, do not support them. Belize’s national bourgeoisie believe the solutions to Belize’s problems lie in free enterprise, free trade, foreign direct investment, “dog-eat-dog,” and the resumption of economic domination by the Western rulers in the U.S., the U.K., Europe, etc. – the “Friends of Belize.”
The reality for Belize, therefore, is that despite the UDP’s sparkling new Cabinet, and their explicit commitment to protect the Belizean poor, the British and the Americans believe that Belize belongs to them. In that belief the British and the Americans will be supported by the national bourgeoisie of Belize. At this newspaper, despite the militant rhetoric of the Prime Minister, we don’t know that the core of his party understands what it takes to achieve national liberation. Under pressure from the Friends of Belize and our national bourgeoisie, the UDP will likely crack. This is real.
Power to the people.
Posted By: Marty
Re: From The Publisher, Amandala - 03/24/12 02:28 PM
“Of the five judges who were in their places, one was a mulatto. The jury was empaneled and two of the jurors were mulattoes; one of them, as the judge who sat next to me said, was a Sambo, or of the descending line, being the son of a mulatto woman and a black man. I was at a loss to determine the caste of a third juror and inquired of the judge, who answered that he was his, the judge’s brother, and that his mother was a mulatto woman. The judge was aware of the feeling which existed in the United States with regard to color, and said that in Belize there was, in political life, no distinction whatever, except on the ground of qualifications and character, and hardly any in social life, even in contracting marriages.”
- pg. 10, Incidents of Travel in Central America, Chiapas & Yucatan, Volume One, John L. Stephens, Rutgers University Press, 1949
An American by the name of John L. Stephens travelled by the “British brig Mary Ann” from New York City to British Honduras in 1839. From Belize, he travelled through parts of the republic of Honduras, Guatemala, and the Chiapas region of Mexico.
When Stephens reached Belize, the pilot who guided the brig through the Barrier Reef and into the harbor was a man who appeared white to him. But the pilot was accompanied by his young son, who was definitely “colored.” By the time he left here, Stephens had concluded that race mixing was a smooth process in Belize.
19 years earlier, in 1820, however, there had been a fairly serious slave revolt on the Belize Old River. The rebellion was not as violent or as large as the 1773 slave uprising, but it was quite significant, and was occasioned by ill-treatment and abuse being meted out in the mahogany camps by the rebels’ slaveowner. The 1820 slave rebellion is especially significant because it took place 22 years after Belize’s slave population supposedly sided with their Baymen slaveowners to fight off the Spanish (Yucatán) invaders of September 1798.
In a letter dated May 16, 1820, Lieutenant-Colonel George Arthur, the Superintendent of the Settlement of Belize, wrote the Earl Bathurst as follows: “It is with much concern I … report to your Lordship that on the 24th ultimo I received a communication from the magistrates apprising me … that a considerable number of slaves had formed themselves into a body in the River Belize, and being well armed, and having already committed various depredations, the most serious consequences were to be apprehended.”
Later, Arthur goes on: “ In my progress up the river I was much concerned to ascertain that the negroes who had first deserted, and excited others to join them, had been treated with very unnecessary harshness by their owner, and had certainly good reasons for complaint …”
Just five months later, nevertheless, on October 7, 1820, Arthur has to report to Bathurst as follows: “In my Report to your Lordship of the 16th May last, upon the insurrection which had taken place in the interior of the colony, I represented that it had originated from the harshness with which some of the slaves had been treated, and that I was not without hope that the consequences of that occasion would have had the beneficial tendency of exciting a greater degree of humanity towards these unfortunate people:- I am much distressed, my Lord, that my expectations have not been answered; and such is the increasing severity and cruelty which is now practiced with impunity …” In this letter, Arthur is specifically referring to “the result of a trial, which was instituted on the 6th instant against an inhabitant for excessive cruelty towards a poor slave …” Arthur opines that the trial, that of a free woman of color, named Duncannette Campbell, for “excessive cruelty towards a poor slave, absolutely excludes every hope, under the present system of jurisprudence, of bringing offenders to punishment when guilty of the most flagrant acts of inhumanity and oppression.”
Another very high profile case of abuse of slaves took place in September of the following year, 1821. Dr. Manfield William Bowen, an ancestor of the late, famous Barry Bowen, was tried for cruelty to slaves before the Magistrates, one of whom was James Hyde, a Scotsman who was my great great great great grandfather on my father’s side.
At some point in the future, Inshallah, I will reproduce the testimony in the Campbell and Bowen cases.
In my ancestry, I have both people who were slaves and people who owned slaves. In the settlement of Belize in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century, there were a fair amount of “free people of color” who owned slaves. My great great great great grandmother on my father’s side was a free woman of color, Adney Broaster, whose mother, Eve Broaster, was a Mandingo slave from the Niger coast of West Africa.
In part because of 1820 and 1821, I have questions about the Battle of St. George’s Caye narrative. My purpose is not to undermine patriotism. My problem is that I do not like to be made a fool of. I believe that there have been people in power in this territory who had reasons to create the narrative they created for 1798, and that narrative became tradition, and then it became sentimental. The narrative is now embedded, so to speak. There’s little to be done about this anymore where popular discussion is concerned. People have taken their various positions. But, in academic circles our scholars should be searching for the truth, no matter how embarrassing it may turn out to be.
We Belizeans love our country, and we cherish our history. But, truth be told, the Emory King sagas were fairy tales. After slavery was abolished here in 1834 or 1838, whatever, a privileged class of non-whites began to emerge in our society. The seeds of that elitist tree were what John L. Stephens was seeing in 1839.
For me, I believe that there were institutional changes that had to be made, that have to be made, so that we can achieve a level of freedom, justice and equality in this land. The Queen and her heirs and successors are not interested in any changes: they like things just fine the way they are. But there is also a class of privileged Belizeans who don’t give a damn about the oppression and suffering of the Belizean masses. You can’t get them to support anything.
The problem is still about skin color. You can see that if you visit the prison at Hattieville. You can hear that if you listen to the news, where the perpetrators always seem to be “dark-complexioned males…”
But, the problem today is more complicated than color. It is about a class of our people who are condemned to punishment from the time they are born, or when they start school. I have been angry for a long time about all the PUDP political propaganda I have heard about skills-training for young adult Belizeans. It’s too late for education once the youth start cohabiting and reproducing. If you don’t fix the schools for the children, then our blood will continue to run in the streets. One blood.
Power to the people.
Posted By: Marty
Re: From The Publisher, Amandala - 10/03/12 01:44 PM
“As Fernando and Isabel saw it, Indian lands were not like the Islamic empires which they and their royal ancestors had fought for centuries. Muslim troops, in their view, could be legitimately enslaved – they had conquered most of Spain, exploited Spanish people, and, by embracing Islam, rejected Christianity. (For similar reasons, the Islamic empires freely enslaved Spanish POWs.) Most Indians, by contrast, had done no wrong to Spaniards. Because American natives had never heard of Christianity, they could not have turned away from it. In 1493, Pope Alexander VI resolved this dilemma of conscience. He awarded the sovereigns ‘full, free and complete power, authority, and jurisdiction’ over the Taino of Hispaniola if they sent ‘prudent and God-fearing men, learned, skilled, and proven, to instruct [them] in the Catholic faith.’ Conquest was acceptable if done for the purpose of bringing the conquered to salvation.”
- pg. 384, 1493, by Charles C. Mann, Vintage Books, 2011, New York
“ … the king was talking with Bartolomé de las Casas, a fiery Dominican priest who had just completed Brief Account of the Destruction of the Indies, an indictment of Spanish conduct that remains a landmark both in the history of human-rights activism and in the literature of sustained invective. Reading his first draft before the shocked court, Las Casas branded the conquest of Mexico as ‘the climax of injustice and violence and tyranny committed against the Indians.’ He denounced Indian slavery as ‘torments even harder to endure and longer lasting than the torments of those who are put to the sword.’”
- pg. 383, ibid.
Perhaps the most dramatic turn of events which has taken place in the Americas during my lifetime on planet earth, has been how all the hype surrounding Christopher Columbus (Cristóbal Colón) when I was a child, changed to skepticism, then anger, and now outright condemnation.
When we were growing up in British Honduras, the colonial masters were giving us October 12 as an annual holiday, October 12 being the date in 1492 when Columbus, an Italian sailor in the employ of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain, first set foot on land (Hispaniola) in the so-called New World. October 12 in British Honduras was called “Columbus Day,” and the holiday was confined to the Corozal and Orange Walk Districts. At some point, and I suppose it was after the People’s United Party (PUP) got some say in the administration of the country, the rest of the country was included in the holiday.
Everything started to blow up around the Columbus story in 1992, when various people in the Americas were looking at the quincentennial of the landing. While Columbus’ voyage to the New World, and then his return to Spain the following year, had been epic achievements in seamanship, Columbus’ entry into the Americas led to what is referred to by historians as “The Conquest.” This violent invasion featured the Spaniards and the Portuguese in the first instance, but later included the English, the Dutch, and the French. The Conquest involved the destruction of Native American societies and civilizations by the invading Europeans, and then European military/political rule, from North America through Central America to the tip of South America with the Caribbean included, for the next three centuries, in the case of the Spanish dominions, and four hundred years in the cases of the others. We are speaking generally, of course. This is not an academic paper.
Let us focus today on the Spanish, because they were the first conquerors of the Americas, and they were the most successful. It is one of the great coincidences of history that the very year when Columbus set foot in the New World in the name of Spain – 1492, was the year when the Roman Catholic Spaniards finally managed to expel the Islamic Moors from Spain and to push them back into North Africa. The Moors had dominated Spain for 700 years.
The Spanish conquistadores who followed Columbus to the Americas in the early sixteenth century, men like Hernán Cortés, the conqueror of Mexico, and Francisco Pizarro, the conqueror of Peru, were brutal, battle-hardened soldiers, but they were also devout Roman Catholics. These men’s war expeditions were accompanied and blessed by priests, and as soon as the Aztecs were subdued in Mexico and the Incas slaughtered in Peru, Roman Catholic churches were established to give glory to the Spanish God. After that, these churches opened schools.
The first students in these schools were the children of the Spaniards, but as time went along, the schools accepted the children of those defeated Native Americans who were willing to submit to Spanish rule and accept their conquerors’ religion and way of life. Native American children in the Spanish schools also included the children of those who had been the early allies of the Spanish who had helped them to defeat the Aztecs and the Incas. Since it was the Church which was establishing the schools, God became a major part of the curriculum, and it was thus that the accepted, formal education of the New World featured God’s blessings as a part of the Conquest. The Catholic schools of the Spanish and the Portuguese, and the Protestant schools of the English, Dutch, and French, all taught basically the same thing – that the Christian God had looked favorably upon European entry into the Americas, because the Europeans had thus been able to civilize, more importantly Christianize, the Native American “heathens.”
Essentially, that is where things stood when yours truly began life in 1947. The Europeans had done our ancestors a favor by murdering, raping, and enslaving them: God had agreed with whatever had been done, because it was through these mechanisms that salvation had been made available to the heathens.
Well, during my lifetime European propaganda has been blown to smithereens. They can’t even call October 12 “Columbus Day” in Belize any more, although the Italian-Americans in the United States still do so. Nowadays, in these parts the holiday is called “Day of the Americas,” or “Día de La Raza.” I don’t really understand what goes on up North on October 12. Why should the Maya celebrate the coming of the Europeans? It doesn’t make sense. Up North, of course, they wonder why we in Belize City celebrate the “Baymen’s glory” when we were still enslaved in 1798.
In any case, my problem is with the God part of the equation. You can see how totally dominated we were. In order to get an education, we had to accept, implicitly, that God had blessed people to do horrible things to our ancestors in order to have our souls be saved. If we questioned the “fact” that God had blessed our conquerors, then the power structure could damn us as being unbelievers. It’rough. We have to praise those who beat us down, and we have to accept our own inferiority and unworthiness. That’s if we want to achieve salvation.
Posted By: Marty
Re: From The Publisher, Amandala - 10/06/12 01:52 PM
Let it go, Mr. Said, let it go
Last week we submitted some questions for the Rt. Hon. Said Musa, Prime Minister of Belize from 1998 to 2008. These questions were rhetorical questions, which is to say, they were questions to which we know the answers, or, think we know the answers.
Mr. Musa was never the dreamer and adventurer that Assad Shoman was, but because he was a faithful friend to Assad, Said basked in the aura of revolutionary romance which surrounded Mr. Shoman. You must understand that this aura was a magnetic field which drew young university students to its energy in the middle and late 1960s, especially if those young university students belonged to ancestral groupings which were being oppressed by European world dominance. In the case of Mr. Shoman and Mr. Musa, they are of Palestinian descent on their fathers’ side, so in the boiling intellectual cauldron which was London, they discovered identity and cause in the sizzling sixties.
Electoral political success for Mr. Shoman and Mr. Musa was slow in coming in the 1970s in Belize, and by the early 1980s it had become clear that this success would be limited by some political realities within the political party they had chosen as their vehicle for socio-economic change – the ruling, undefeated People’s United Party (PUP), led by the charismatic George Cadle Price.
Then, in 1984, came political disaster for the aforementioned attorneys. The PUP lost their first general election ever, and it was by a landslide margin. Both Shoman and Musa lost their seats, even Mr. Price himself. It is important to understand that the party was rebuilt after that 1984 shocker, because then you will understand why Mr. Musa felt his hands were tied, as it were, when he resumed his political career on a solo basis, Mr. Shoman having withdrawn from electoral politics after 1984.
There are some people, like Joe Coye, who have sought to take some credit for the rebuilding of the PUP after 1984, but all we can is say what we saw from our position as political observers. Mr. Price was tired after 1984; perhaps more important, in a way he was content, because the elusive Holy Grail had been achieved, after much arduous effort, in 1981. The people who rebuilt the PUP and masterminded its surprise victory in September of 1989 were two of Mr. Price’s personal protégés – Glenn Godfrey and Ralph Fonseca.
Mr. Musa had become close to Mr. Price because he had become a family member, so to speak, but Mr. Musa’s dad, the late Hamid, had been a known, prominent official of the Opposition National Independence Party (NIP) during the 1950s and 1960s. In the cases of Glenn and Ralph, however, their PUP credentials were absolutely impeccable.
When he became PUP Leader in 1996, and then Prime Minister in 1998, Said Musa felt, for different reasons, that he was bound to stand by and for Glenn and Ralph at all times. This is not to say that Mr. Musa did not benefit personally from his troika relationship with Glenn and Ralph: assuredly, he did. But, it is to say that, because of his absolute commitment to these two, Mr. Musa made big mistakes. He made a big mistake on the morning of Sunday, August 30, 1998, when he was forming his Cabinet. He made a big mistake in the afternoon of Saturday, August 14, 2004, when he travelled to San Joaquin.
Even though the political system of Belize is considered a parliamentary democracy, we have, in a de facto sense, caudillo politics in Belize at the level of the Prime Minister. This is because, as our political system has been operated, the Prime Minister of Belize has power which can only be described as extraordinary: Belizean Prime Ministers are caudillos. And, their close associates know that. So, Prime Ministers cannot “play simple.” They have the might to make it right, whatever and whenever and for whomever.
By Belizean standards, Mr. Musa has been a very successful politician and he has become a very wealthy man. He has eaten his cake. But, now he wants to have that cake. He appears to feel some nostalgia for the aura of revolutionary romance in which he used to bask. He would like to have 1989 to 2008 be glossed over, and he would like his revolutionary credibility of 1969 to 1984 to be given some attention.
We don’t think that Mr. Musa can have his cake after he has eaten it. Perhaps a sophisticated public relations campaign can do this for him in areas of Belize where Kremandala is of no account. On the Southside of Belize City, however, Kremandala is of account, and we know Mr. Musa better than anyone else in the media field. He should let it go, and move aside for his children to emerge from the shadows. As time goes along, the fact that he took courageous stands as a young man and that he was an activist, as they say, will neutralize some of his more recent neoliberal adventures. For now, though, we Belizeans have this superbond in a tight grip around our collective neck. And, we know on whose watch Glenn and Ralph were frolicking. This is real.
Posted By: Marty
Re: From The Publisher, Amandala - 10/24/12 01:46 PM
We explained to you in last weekend’s issue that political parties which are populist, trade union, or masses-based, are called “left wing,” and political parties which defend the interests of wealthy, propertied citizens, large companies, and the business class, are called “right wing.”
We also said in our last column that since the masses of the people are always far more numerous than the wealthy elite, then it would seem that the left wing parties have a numerical advantage in political systems which feature universal adult suffrage – one citizen, one vote.
Over the last six decades in Belize, we have seen the business of political campaigning become much more extravagant and expensive than it used to be. As a consequence of this, the importance of campaign financing here has grown by leaps and bounds, especially since our political independence in 1981, and the power of the wealthy has reached the point where they essentially control both of Belize’s two major political parties.
Even though the People’s United Party (PUP) appeared to be completely left wing at its birth in 1950, the richest native in British Honduras, a mulatto mahogany/chicle contractor by the name of Bob Turton, was supporting the PUP from behind the scenes. He was, in fact, Mr. George Price’s employer, and it was Mr. Turton who had pushed Mr. Price into local politics in the early 1940s.
Mr. Turton’s businesses had grown to the point where he was seriously competing with the giant, British-owned, mahogany/chicle company in British Honduras – BEC, but the colonial masters who made laws and financial decisions in the colony openly favored BEC over Mr. Turton, naturally, and their 1949 devaluation of the Belize dollar had been a body blow to Mr. Turton’s business interests, which incensed him. The PUP’s subsequent agitation for self-government and independence enormously excited the masses of the Belizean people, but self-government and independence were also where it suited Bob Turton’s businesses for British Honduras to go.
Mr. Turton died in 1955, and Mr. Price became PUP Leader in 1956, replacing Leigh Richardson. By the 1979 general elections, Mr. Price led a PUP which had both a right wing – Louis Sylvestre and Fred Hunter, and a left wing – Assad Shoman and Said Musa.
The struggle for control of the PUP’s direction came to a head in 1983 when Said Musa challenged Louis Sylvestre for the chairmanship of the party, and lost. In retrospect, this was the end, or the beginning of the end, of the PUP’s left wing, but it was not so obvious at the time.
Right wing dominance in Belize actually began with the coming to power of the United Democratic Party (UDP) in 1984. The UDP’s victory had been very popular with the masses of the Belizean people, and one big reason was simply that Belizeans wanted a change: we wanted to see if things could be different with people in administrative control other than the PUP.
It quickly became clear after the UDP came to power that theirs was a pro-United States, pro-business government which was interested in selling passports, facilitating real estate transactions, and promoting tourism. In order to achieve independence in 1981, Mr. Price had had to appease Washington’s State Department by breaking the power of those left wing trade union leaders who appeared too leftist, in fact radical, to Washington. So that, the UDP had a free rein, so to speak, with their right wing selves between 1984 and 1989. The economy roared, but the roaring was not sustainable.
The erstwhile left winger, Said Musa, saw the error of his ways, as it were, during that first UDP government, and he became a right winger. Said, we would say, became Billy. Said’s partner, Assad Shoman, retired from electoral politics after the 1984 defeat, and between 1984 and 1989 Mr. Musa entered political partnership with Glenn Godfrey and Ralph Fonseca, two of Mr. Price’s favorites who were unabashedly right wing.
When the PUP returned to power in 1989, Mr. Price was PUP Leader and Prime Minister, but it turned out that he was not the man he had been, and that the troika of Glenn, Ralph, and Said was running the show. Impatience with Mr. Price’s vestigial populism led that troika to push for early general elections in 1993, and then the actual replacement of Mr. Price as PUP Leader in 1996.
Mr. Musa’s two terms of office as Prime Minister between 1998 and 2008 were neoliberal capitalist in nature, decidedly right wing. This is why this third millennium PUP has to be invoking the name and reproducing the portrait of Mr. Price so frequently and religiously: it is to mask the fact that the PUP is on right wing steroids, a taste the party developed while watching the UDP run things between 1984 and 1989.
We said to you last week that the original political opposition to the PUP in the early 1950s was a pro-British, right wing party called the National Party (NP). The original UDP of 1973, which was an amalgamation of the National Independence Party (NIP), the People’s Development Movement (PDM), and the Liberal Party, was a pro-American, pro-business, right wing party. When the UDP came to power in 1984, its philosophy had not changed from what it was in 1973.
UDP Prime Minister Dean Barrow’s left wing decisions to take over the telecommunications company (BTL) and the electricity distribution company (BEL) have been offset philosophically by his decision to have the monster American Sugar Refining (ASR) company buy out Belize Sugar Industries (BSI). Mr. Musa had taken Belize so far to the right that Mr. Barrow’s UDP appeared leftist for a while, but that is only by comparison.
Why do poor people vote for political organizations which are controlled by rich people? This happens when poor people are not organized, as they most often are not, and when campaign financing from the rich drowns poor people in the propaganda of the said rich. The critical thing is that the propaganda of the rich ends up convincing the desperate poor that they cannot help themselves, that it is only the wealthy who can help them, with the crumbs from Dives’ table.
Right wing policies, moreover, appear safe to Belizeans because we have seen all the kinds of pressure the awesome Americans bring to bear on Castro’s Cuba, Chavez’s Venezuela, Morales’ Bolivia, etc. The enduring problem with right wing policies for people like me, nevertheless, is that if you track such a philosophy back in time, you will find that right wingers are really the philosophical descendants of those who enslaved and colonized us. Resistance to imperialism, colonialism, racism, and neoliberalism is always where I want to go and always where I want to be. Because of that resistance, I’ve taken my licks. This is real. Amandala