“We are here to get rid of … Kremandala … “
– Minister of Gangs, Hon. Mark King, August 12, 2015
It may well be that this newspaper should be campaigning for a change of government. In fact, there are those in the leadership of the ruling United Democratic Party (UDP) who appear to believe that we are so doing. We are not so doing. The reason we should be campaigning for a change of government is because, should the UDP be elected to a third consecutive term of office, we expect them to launch major attacks on Kremandala.
The reason this newspaper is not actively campaigning for a change of government is because history teaches us that we would have no control over, and very little influence on, whichever government we helped to elect. So that, we would have served our own purposes but we would have, to a certain extent, misled the Belizean people.
On three different occasions previously, in 1979, 1984, and 1998, the newspaper campaigned all out for one of the two major political parties. In 1979, we campaigned for the People’s United Party (PUP), in 1984 for the UDP, and in 1998 for the PUP. The lesson we learned was that, to repeat, we had no control over, and very little influence on, those administrations we had helped to elect. We had helped to elect those respective administrations because we had feared that victories by their opponents would have meant destruction, or at least great harm, to this newspaper.
As a brief aside but as a matter of historical record, let it be noted that this newspaper endorsed the PUP’s Joe Coye in the Caribbean Shores constituency during the June 1993 general election campaign, but we did not campaign for the PUP. In retrospect, perhaps we should have. The UDP administration elected on June 30, 1993, proceeded to victimize Kremandala in a merciless manner.
Today in 2015 as Belize prepares for general elections early next month, we do not expect that a third term UDP government would be able to destroy Kremandala, but they, of course, would be in a position to make our business lives miserable in different ways.
Kremandala expects problems from a third term UDP because of our experience with a third term PUP government in early 1970. The young PUP had won national elections in 1954 and 1957 in colonial British Honduras, but not only had these elections been won in alliance with the General Workers Union (GWU), but the party’s power was limited. In office, the PUP did not control the public finances of the colony. Under the new Ministerial constitution introduced for the March 1961 general election, however, a PUP administration became responsible for Belize’s public finances, and that PUP administration led Belize to self-government early in 1964. So, for purposes of this essay, we choose to view the PUP government elected to office in December of 1969 as a third term government.
In general elections in early December of 1969, the PUP had destroyed a coalition which included Philip Goldson’s National Independence Party (NIP) and Dean Lindo’s People’s Development Movement (PDM), and just ten weeks later they turned their attention to a cultural, black-conscious movement called the United Black Association for Development (UBAD). They turned their attention to UBAD because it had already begun publishing this newspaper called Amandala, in August of 1969, and because UBAD clearly was a potential problem for the PUP and their backers in Belize’s unseen power structure. In the first place, UBAD was talking black in the nation’s population center; in the second place, UBAD had excited the disenfranchised (at that time, the voting age was 21) youth; in the third place, UBAD had been willing to ally itself with the left-wing People’s Action Committee (PAC) in October of 1969, and in the fourth place, UBAD had drawn massive crowds to its public meetings during the pre-election summer of 1969.
The third term PUP used the sedition law in February of 1970 to arrest two UBAD leaders, Evan X Hyde and Ismael Shabazz. A political law, the sedition law had only been used twice before – against Philip Goldson and Leigh Richardson in 1951 and against George Price in 1958, on both those previous occasions by the British colonial rulers. The seditious law has not been used again since 1970.
Some constitutional critics in Belize view our political system as monarchical, because it appears that the Queen of England, Elizabeth II, is really Belize’s head of state, and because the present Belize constitution appears to give monarchical powers to whoever becomes Prime Minister here. What you must understand, nevertheless, is that the British people themselves resent monarchy, as we understand monarchy’s historical implications.
In England, the king used to be someone who led his nation on the field of battle. The warrior king whom the British arguably loved the most was Henry V, also known as “Prince Harry” or “Prince Hal.” He was featured in three Shakespearean plays – Henry IV Part I, Henry IV Part II, and Henry V. Harry ruled England for only nine years, from 1413 to 1422, when he died at the very young age of 35.
By the time of Charles I two plus centuries later, however, the British had grown fed up with kings and queens. Elizabeth II is a paper queen today. She is a mere symbol, albeit a cherished one, in England. In 1649, a man named Oliver Cromwell led the “common people” in a beheading of Charles I. Cromwell, as a military and political ruler at the time, could have taken the crown for himself. He chose not to do so, and in so doing began a process which ended up with monarchy being reduced to symbolism and ceremony in England. Real power in England comes from the “common people,” as represented in the House of Commons in Parliament.
The disturbing lesson of the UDP’s second term has to do with the fact that we have seen the executive of Belize exercise unconstitutional influences upon the judiciary of Belize in ways we have never seen in this country. This is the type of behavior which cost Charles I his head in 1649. The constitution of Belize has been bent out of shape by the present administration, and the “common people” of Belize are yet to prove their ability and willingness to address the issue. This is as it is on Monday, October 19, 2015.
Power to the people. Remember Danny Conorquie. Fight for Belize.