“We can forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.” (Plato)
Two commentaries in recent issues of AMANDALA triggered my memory of Plato’s maxim of when men fear the light. These are namely: “Turning Your Back On Your Own People” by Bilal Morris (23rd June, 2018) and the prescient editorial of 28th June, 2018 entitled: “The swamp that became The Jewel.” Indeed, it is obvious that the Belizean Diaspora, which is numerically more than half of Belize’s population, which is approximately one third of a million people, has been consistently trivialised and ignored by every Belizean government since Independence in 1981.
In fact, one of the few Belizean politicians who possessed a truly sincere, unselfish, pragmatic and non-racist vision for Belize was Philip S. W. Goldson. He had no illusions about the Guatemalan issue, and understood the need to position the Belizean Diaspora in the general scheme of things, and the role it must play as an integral part of the Belizean nation. Today, Goldson’s contributions have been at times minimised and even repudiated by envious and racist revisionists with hidden agendas. However, as a visionary, Goldson discerned that the Belizean nation is not circumscribed by physical space. Neither is it merely territorial, and confined by geography like the Belizean state. For Goldson, the Belizean nation is a political, social and cultural construct that embraces and includes ALL Belizeans, irrespective of where they live and what other nationality they additionally acquired.
The present political dispensation and a number of other Belizeans at home tend to regard the Belizean Diaspora solely as a cash cow to ostensibly alleviate the penury and suffering within Belize. So, while Belize’s elites feed fat off the land, the marginalised are supposed to survive off the barrels of food, clothes and remittances from those Belizeans slaving abroad. And, while the Guatemalans, who have been gifted with Belizean citizenship, deliberately, unconstitutionally and illegally, because their votes were needed to elect various Belizean governments into power, will be registered to vote come this 2nd July, 2018 for next April’s ICJ referendum. No Diasporan Belizean will be that fortunate. Instead, if they wish to register, they must leave their jobs, families and homes abroad, and move to Belize and remain there for two months.
It stands to reason that this kind of road-block was vindictively created, because it is assumed that Diasporans will vote “No”, while the fake citizens from Guatemala will vote “Yes”. After all, those of their compatriots who participated in the recent Guatemalan ICJ referendum voted an overwhelming “Yes” by almost 100 per cent. That, therefore, is the hoped-for result which both the GOB and much of the official Opposition are aiming for. Tufia! (God forbid!)
Concerning the matter of Diasporan inclusion in our politics, my view is that the Diaspora does not and should not regard their participation in Belize’s political process as largely limited to being able to run for office and sitting in Belmopan’s legislative chambers and our various city councils. There are many, and I am one, who have neither the inclination nor the temperament to enter the often vicious hurly-burly of vying for elected office. The Belizean Diaspora, like those from more than 115 countries worldwide, want to vote and have a considered say in the nation that birthed them and which also happens to be the land of their ancestors, relatives and friends. Therefore, it is when we have an informed, vigilant and patriotic electorate not only at home but also in the Diaspora, that we can change the current situation where not only are certain renegade politicians willing hostages to pernicious foreign interests, while our economy is in free fall and up for grabs, but we fail to even benefit from the miserly crumbs falling from their table.
Unfortunately, our Diaspora was sold a dummy by various political players, who ought to know better, that the Diasporan vote would “produce corruption” in Belize’s electoral system. This fallacy not only insults one’s intelligence, but is ignorant and hypocritical. Elsewhere, I have highlighted where Diasporan voting is not only feasible and credible, but also the need for us to constructively revisit the 7th Amendment in order to reclaim, augment and utilise Belize’s human capital. This is the greatest natural resource of a nation, as is evident in Singapore, Switzerland, Rwanda and the Zionist State of Israel. (See: “If Belize’s 7th Amendment is Reviewed” an AMANDALA publication, also TWOCAN View LLC, 29th April, 2015).
It is also needful that we should all understand that until such time as when a progressive, visionary and patriotic government comes to power in Belize, no government within our shores will ever provide Diasporans with the privileges and licence Belize’s politicians have extended and continue to provide to the Mennonites, Chinese, Taiwanese, Indians, Arabs, North Americans and other alien groups in our midst who, in the words of Shakespeare: “doth bestride (“our”) narrow world/ Like a Colossus, and we petty men/ Walk under … and peep about/ To find ourselves dishonorable graves…”
The primary reason why this is so, is because a number of Belizeans, and this includes much of the political class, suffer from a deeply embedded feeling of inferiority, and actually fear and look up to foreigners. Remember the only white girl in the class at school? Everyone wanted to sit next to her and be her best friend! And, the teachers treated her differently and always asked her to read, so we could all drool on her British or Canadian accent! This inferiority, paradoxically, is also in relation to those “who left and went to foreign lands,” and who they actively need to diminish by taking down a peg or two. So, we find that because of this complex, foreigners like Michael Ashcroft fool, use and abuse our politicians, and by extension the rest of us. Our leaders slavishly kow-tow to the foreigners in our midst, including the peasants, the petty traders and the illiterate among them, and as a result open themselves to manipulation, blackmail and control. But while this is also engendered by their largely economically deprived backgrounds, self-interest and intense greed, the over-riding factor is because they really feel innately inferior to these people and want to please them. This extends too to our foreign relations and the failed appeasement strategy towards Guatemala and the sickening sycophancy displayed towards its leaders. There is also the issue of the plethora of indifferent foreign businessmen and other strangers manning our honorary consulates abroad.
Surprisingly, this feeling of deep inferiority is so internalised that its victims actually feel inferior and back-footed when faced with informed and objective dissent within Belize. This is demonstrated through acts of venomous hostility towards the key players, whereby patriotic interventions would be routinely thrashed, followed by campaigns of calumny and economic sabotage. Curious about this phenomenon and its accompanying contradictions, I asked a very senior civil servant on my last visit home why this was the case. His reply was: “It’s an ego thing.”
Most psychologists have found that an inferiority complex is largely manifested in the compelling need for those with this disability to perceive others as threats, and being overly sensitive to any kind of criticism, even when justified. At home, some of our politicians also entertain irrational thoughts of being harassed, and that there are always others who actively seek their downfall. In addition, they are intensely jealous and desire adulation to the point of paranoia.In pursuing this, such politicians are consistently hypocritical, and can only feel “good” and act “great” when they are surrounded by people who enable them to be the only one in the cabal that appears to be so. This ultimately leads to them playing the blame-game by pushing their frailties on to others, in order to minimise their inferiority. This also makes them poor losers in elections and power-bids. Ironically, these seriously flawed politicians try to assume a veneer of superiority, which manifests itself in conceit and highhanded behaviour, thus masking their feelings of inadequacy and inferiority.
This brings us next to why in feeling inferior to the Diaspora – the ones who left and went to foreign lands – it leads to this group being resented, envied, distrusted, hated and finally shunned, instead of being embraced and courted like the foreigners. First, there is the concept that these people left to lead better lives, while they remained behind in backward Belize. Some of this is true, while there are other aspects that are not. I have in the course of my travel and residencies interacted with Belizeans who should never have left Belize, as their lives are not that better than when they were living at home. Such people can never return to Belize, as they gained hardly any advantage from their Diaspora experiences, and therefore have nothing to offer Belize should they return. They have very limited skills or money, and are better off in societies which can best absorb them. Granted, all that is about to change with Brexit, an international trade war that may or may not occur, and an America that, according to the UN Monitor on Poverty in the US, is being steered towards a dramatic change in direction which is for the worse. Its final report which will be presented to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva this June end, indicts the Trump administration for rewarding the rich and punishing the poor by blocking access even to the most meagre necessities. And, no less a person than the Nobel Prize winner in Economics, Joseph Stiglitz, argues that the Trump administration’s slashing of protective benefits will affect not only the poor, but the middle-class as well. This is coming in a society where giving $1.5 trillion tax cuts slashed corporate tax rates, and where generous tax breaks were availed to billionaires and corporations.
To be continued in the next issue of the Amandala