“The Minister has stoutly denied doing such a thing of course, but the evidence is overwhelming! The Commissioner of Lands, Wilbert Vallejos, has testified that he received his instructions directly from the Minister of Lands, and the physical evidence is irrefutable that the land was impounded and a road was built leading to land belonging to another American.
“If it were not for the integrity of the Court this gross injustice would have gone unchecked and Belize would have taken one more step down the slippery path.
“Even now, despite the clearly illegal path taken to accomplish its end, the Ministry of Natural Resources is still trying to get the Ministry of Works to stake a claim to the land by declaring it a public road, compounding the felony of illegal dispossession.”
– pg. 2, Editorial, The Reporter, Sunday, January 31, 2016
“Yet before it was an instrument of self-justification, Kissinger’s relativism was a tool of self-creation and hence self-advancement. Kissinger, who admittedly believed in nothing, was skilled at being all things to all people, particularly people of a higher station: ‘I won’t tell you what I am,” he said in his famous interview with Oriana Fallaci, ‘I’ll never tell anyone.’ The myth about him is that he disliked the messiness of modern-interest politics, that his talents would have been better realized had they been unencumbered by the oversight of mass democracy. Really, though, it was only because of mass democracy, with its near endless opportunities for reinvention, that Kissinger was able to climb the heights.”
– pg. 11, Kissinger’s Shadow, by Greg Grandin, Metropolitan Books, New York, 2015
“This story shall the good man teach his son,
And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered –
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers.
For he today that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother. Be he ne’er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition.
And gentlemen in England now abed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s Day.”
– Henry V, Act IV, scene iii, lines 56-67
I am one of those Belizeans who is disappointed in Godwin Hulse, but I am not angry at him. My personal feeling is that the good Senator felt he was getting older, he had all these bright ideas and proven abilities, and he realized that he needed political power in order to accomplish anything of real substance. The thing is, he had a phobia about subjecting himself to all the mud-slingings and character assassinations which are routine in Belize’s electoral politics: he, therefore, could not bear the thought of political candidacy and the abuse which accompanies such a candidacy.
Godwin was a couple years behind me at St. John’s College. In my mind over the decades, I’ve always linked him with the one Alex Scott as younger students at Landivar who were “gung ho” about their studies and were always comparing notes after exams and quizzes. But when I consulted my archival copy of the 1965 Mangrove (the St. John’s College yearbook), I saw that in 1965 Godwin was in 4A and Alex was in 3B. They must have been together in a science class, such as physics or chemistry, where it was possible, if I remember correctly, for students from different classes to take the same course.
I didn’t remember Godwin as playing any sports at SJC, so I thought of him as somewhat of a “nerd.” Godwin would have graduated from the high school section of SJC in 1966 or 1967, whereupon he went to work at the Royal Bank of Canada. I don’t believe he went to the Sixth Form section of SJC, but I can’t be sure, because I was studying in the United States between 1965 and 1968. I do know that Godwin Hulse, while I was away, competed in one of Belize’s most macho sports, the Holy Saturday Crosscountry, and my late uncle, Buck Belisle, spoke glowingly to me about one of Godwin’s Holy Saturday rides (I think 1966). So, I underestimated Mr. Hulse in thinking of him as a bookworm.
After some years at the bank, Godwin made a sensational move and went to Germany to study engineering. I call his move sensational because he would have had to learn German, from scratch, and German is a difficult language. I call his move sensational because it was “ballsy,” as we would say. And I call his move sensational because he was successful. Most of our young people in those days thought a bank job was where it was at, so Godwin was rolling the dice: he gave up a good thing to gamble on something bigger.
Belize is a small place where most of us know each other, or we know of each other. I can’t say how this works among the other ethnic groups, but I can say that amongst Creole young and adult men there was and is a definite competitive reality. Young boys/men start competing for grades and girls and jobs and sports accolades. This I consider natural, unavoidable, and, ultimately, healthy. Along the way as the years go by, you forge some friendships which endure and experience some rivalries which are long lasting.
Next Tuesday (February 9) marks the 47th anniversary of the founding of the United Black Association for Development (UBAD). To a great extent, UBAD moved me into a different world where friendships and rivalries were concerned. I had never thought of Godwin Hulse as either a friend or a rival: he lived in a different world – first banking, then engineering, later different businesses. I’m trying to explain to you that between 1969 and 1974, UBAD was where some young men and some grown men here made a statement, and because of that statement these became defining years in our lives. Some of you say you don’t want to hear about it. Fine, my point is that Godwin Hulse travelled a different road.
I can’t say when Godwin and I became friends of sorts, but it is for sure that Godwin made a personal sacrifice to do a mechanics and engineering show for us on the new, experimental KREM Radio, which debuted in late 1989. He had been in the rice business big time, but there had been a problem, which he survived. I think during the course of the 1990s, Godwin came to my attention as being a regular in a group which discussed current issues. Off the top, I would say the late Bert Tucker, Nuri Muhammad, Dickie Bradley, Darrell Carter, probably Lascelle Arnold, and others. And then, after the coming to power of the Said Musa government of 1998, in an atmosphere which suggested an intellectual renaissance in Belize, Mr. Hulse became very active, prominent actually, in political reform circles.
Finally, Godwin Hulse became an absolute Belizean superstar when he became the most important personality in the investigations into the doings of the Belize Social Security Board. This would have been in the aftermath of the scandals at the SSB which began to be exposed in late July of 2004.
In March of 2012 when second-term United Democratic Party (UDP) Prime Minister, Dean Barrow, announced his new Cabinet, he included five Belizeans who were not elected House members and who therefore had to be processed through the Senate. With reference to Godwin, who was the most well-known of these five Cabinet Senators, Mr. Barrow, when he introduced them at a press conference, made a comment to the effect that Godwin had “always been a UDP.” Mr. Barrow may have been indulging in an expansive aside, he does that from time to time, but I think the comment was unfair to Godwin, and perhaps embarrassing to him. I’m just saying. Godwin may have always been a UDP type, but he had consistently been an independent thinker before that fateful 2012 appointment.
In 2012, Senator Hulse was sent to a most controversial and most corrupt Ministry – Immigration. Now, in Mr. Barrow’s new, third-term Cabinet, the Senator has been sent to another “most controversial and most corrupt Ministry” – Natural Resources. I believe Mr. Hulse has been a great asset to the Dean Barrow administrations in which he has served. I also believe he has, overall, been a great asset to Belize.
Godwin has, however, paid a price where his personal credibility is concerned. He has lost a sizeable quantum of that credibility because it is precisely such a price that he has had to pay for the Cabinet power he appears to enjoy. Since March of 2012, he has had to live by loyalty to the Cabinet in which he sits. As a result of his living by loyalty to UDP Cabinets, Godwin has earned himself repeated showers of that same opprobrium and that same abuse which he had for so long been so careful to avoid.
At the time UBAD was organized, Godwin Hulse would have been at the Royal Bank of Canada, the precursor to today’s Belize Bank. On February 9, 1969, he was therefore in a safe place, a place of comfort. On the occasion of UBAD’s anniversary, I would like to remind those of my brothers and sisters who chose not to be in a safe place during those turbulent years, that no matter what may have divided us since then, there was a vision we shared and a commitment we made, together. There are other individuals from our generation who chose, for whatever their various reasons, not to make such a commitment. History records, those Belizeans remained apart.
I have chosen in this essay to tell something of what I know of the story of Godwin Hulse in order to highlight, by contrast, the sacrifices some of us made back then in UBAD. People like Godwin Hulse would have had to give up much more than the average person had to give up to support UBAD, but such people did made sacrifices.
All along life’s journey since then, nevertheless, Mr. Hulse must have thought of contributing to the welfare of his Belizean people. This is why I am not angry at him. This is how he chose to do it. His heart is in a good place, I would say. Way back when, however, there were others who put their freedoms and their lives on the line. I honor those Belizeans.
Power to the people. Remember Danny. Fight for Belize.