“Contrary to the BTV argument of Guatemalan aggression along the Sarstoon River, nothing is further from the truth. Except for the stance taken by Guatemalan military personnel at Sarstoon Island, when Belizeans travelled up the Sarstoon to Gracias a Dios and even to Cadenas on the Guatemalan side, Belizeans are not molested.
“From time immemorial, Guats on the Guatemalan side of the river and Belizeans on the north side of the river have lived in harmony.
“This is supported by our BDF and Coast Guard who have confirmed that it is the recent attitude of the BTV under Maheia and De La Fuente, who have incited the Guats to illegally try to possess the island at the mouth of the Sarstoon.
“In 1975 when British troops were deployed to protect Belize’s borders, British soldiers made friends with Guatemalan counterparts and exchanged beers, chocolates, and sandwiches at the Sarstoon, Gracias a Dios and Cadenas.”
– pg. 46, THE REPORTER, Sunday, August 30, 2015, by Alejandro Vernon
In the world of the attorney/lawyer, there is no such thing as absolute truth: what there is, above and beyond all, is skilful argument. The best attorney is the one who can marshal the best argument. The facts are secondary: absolute truth does not exist.
Responding to the Sarstoon Island/Guatemala claim statement at Wednesday’s House meeting adjournment made by Opposition People’s United Party (PUP) Leader, Hon. Francis Fonseca, Prime Minister/United Democratic Party (UDP) Leader, Hon. Dean Barrow, sought to present a skilful argument in order to confound Mr. Fonseca. In the middle of his presentation, however, Mr. Barrow lost his temper and screamed across the aisle at Mr. Fonseca: “Shut up. Shut up, you empty vessel!”
Now even though the Leader of the Opposition is himself an attorney, like Mr. Barrow, in his Sarstoon/Guatemala statement at the adjournment Mr. Fonseca had, uncharacteristically, entered the world of absolute truth. Guatemala represents an existential threat to Belize and Belizeans, and the Sarstoon River/Island has become an increasingly dangerous flashpoint.
The reason the world of the soldier has been traditionally and universally considered a world of honor and glory, is because the soldier, by definition, puts his life on the line. There are no ifs, ands, or buts about this: to be a soldier, is to commit one’s self to life or death.
Over a period of several months, there have been Belizean civilians who have been making soldier-like statements at the Sarstoon River and Island in their campaign for Belizean sovereignty, territorial integrity, and environmental dignity. These so-called Territorial Volunteers are led by Wil Maheia of Toledo, and Orlando De La Fuente of Orange Walk has emerged as a hero. The absolute truth is that these Belizean civilians have been brave, they have been patriotic, and they have been nationalistic. The absolute truth, eventually presented in video evidence on national television for Belizeans at home and abroad to see, is that these said Belizeans have been intimidated, abused, and threatened by Guatemalan military/naval personnel on historically Belizean territory. In late February, some of these Belizeans were actually abducted by the Guatemalan military/navy and forced to go to Livingston, a port in southern Guatemala. To a certain extent, these Belizean civilians have been risking their lives to preserve Belizean sovereignty, territorial integrity, and environmental dignity.
The Government of Prime Minister Barrow has taken the highly questionable, if not cowardly, position of refusing to provide Belizean military and naval escorts for expeditions of Belize’s Territorial Volunteers. This is a fact. In taking the side of the Territorial Volunteers in his adjournment statement on Wednesday, the Leader of the Opposition entered the world of absolute truth, the Prime Minister knew it, and Mr. Barrow lashed out in frustration and anguish. At the Sarstoon on September 2, 2015, the time for skilful argument is over: the Guatemalans have now openly made this a Belizean case of do or die.
In that split second of panic when the Prime Minister lost his self-control, there were important things we came to understand. We are convinced that the Sarstoon has become an Achilles Heel of sorts for Mr. Barrow, and we understand now why he has refused to disassociate himself and his Cabinet from Junior Minister Mark King’s dangerous threats of Wednesday, August 12, 2015. Mr. Barrow is bitterly angry with the specific target of King’s threats – family-owned Kremandala, and we believe our talk show host, Mose Hyde, is a problem, but we believe that the criticism which absolutely infuriates Mr. Barrow appears in a weekly Amandala column written by Audrey Matura-Shepherd. Audrey-Matura Shepherd was a UDP Senator in the National Assembly and for years she was the editor-in-chief of the UDP weekly newspaper. She was highly placed inside the leadership of the UDP, in fact a confidant of Mr. Barrow’s. She always focuses on Mr. Barrow in her column. At this newspaper, we do not agree with everything Matura-Shepherd writes, but we are now being blamed for everything she writes. So be it.
On a tangential note, let us ask the question, three weeks before the first anniversary of the broad daylight murder of the Special Constable Danny Conorquie at the Caracol Maya Site in the Chiquibul, why is there yet to be any indication of an official attempt to recognize his death of honor in the line of duty? This newspaper has been beating the drum of honor for Danny Conorquie for months and months and months. We have done so because we suspected that Belize’s politicians in office, our suspicions being based on everything that has transpired with all things Guatemalan over the last few years, would seek to sweep the Danny Conorquie sacrifice under the rug. The relevant Belizean officials are now always more worried about “their Guatemalan counterparts” than about Belizean citizens. There is no more absolute truth than the ambush and murder of Danny Conorquie on September 25, 2014, while he served his country. No amount of skilful argument from our attorney politicians can diminish this truth.
Next week all our officials will be honoring people like Thomas Paslow, a known abuser of slaves in the Settlement of Belize, and we will be marching and singing about the glory of the Baymen in 1798. Fine, your party must go on. In the 2015 streets where our young men walk and ride their bicycles, however, you are seen as bogus, Belizean leaders. You beat and abuse and humiliate your young Belizean males, but you act completely differently in front of your Guatemalan “counterparts” when you meet them.
We know how now that the Maximum Leader of Belize has branded Partridge Street as his enemy. Perhaps we were naïve not to have previously become conscious of such a branding. Whatever the case, it is for sure we now enter that bright daylight of personal consciousness.
Power to the people. Remember Danny Conorquie. Fight for Belize.