“During the 1960’s, the most feared group was the United Black Association for Development, better known as UBAD, under the leadership of Evan X Hyde. The Belize government decided that the only way to get rid of this group was to form the Belize Special Force … They were indicted on several charges brought before the courts and after a period of years were forced to become a political party …”
– pg. 16, Wellington C. Ramos in THE GUARDIAN of Sunday, September 5, 2010
The General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS) is being held in Antigua, Guatemala this week, and Kremandala is one of the three Belizean media houses which are being represented in Antigua. The other two media houses are Channel 7 and Channel 5, and these are owned by a Belizean multimillionaire and a British billionaire, respectively.
In Antigua, Kremandala is being represented by Marisol Amaya, who is the news editor at KREM Radio and also does translations for this newspaper. Marisol is not as famous as Adele Ramos, but she is just as precious.
It takes special people to work at Kremandala, especially when these individuals, like Adele and Marisol, are multi-talented and could work at just about any media house in the nation. The Kremandala offices are located in an area of town which can get rough and exciting at times, so this place is not for the faint of heart.
The highest ranking official at the OAS conference is probably the American Secretary of State, John Kerry, but there are many Caribbean and Latin American leaders and Cabinet Ministers attending the General Assembly. You must forgive us if we stop and consider how much being represented in Antigua this week means to us on Partridge Street.
Many years ago, 44 to be exact, a cultural organization was formed in Belize City by the name of the United Black Association for Development (UBAD). In the beginning, the organization was attacked by the Opposition NIP, which had not been doing its homework properly, and was much disturbed by UBAD’s friendship with the People’s Action Committee (PAC), a left-wing political group led by Assad Shoman and Said Musa.
By early 1970, however, the UBAD came under heavy legal and political attack from the ruling PUP, which had just won a 17-1 renewal of their mandate in the December 1969 general elections. A three-year period began during which UBAD fought for its life against the very powerful PUP government.
The young Belizeans, mostly lumpenproletariat and students, who fought for UBAD as members and supporters between 1970 and 1972, have mostly migrated to the United States, and now nobody knows their names and their faces, except for those UBAD leaders who have survived and remained in Belize.
Kremandala is not the militant or street organization that UBAD was, but because of the foundation built and sustained by that young Belizean generation of 1969 to 1972, Kremandala has an ongoing commitment to the masses of the Belizean people at the base of our socio-economic pyramid. We see ourselves as representing the people of Belize in Antigua in a way that no other media system can.
Kremandala is represented in Antigua at a critical time for Belize where the Guatemalan claim to Belize is concerned. The evidence has grown over the past months that the Government of Belize has a different approach to the claim from the masses of the Belizean people. We mean no disrespect to our colleagues at Channel 5 and Channel 7, but we wanted to be in Antigua this week to see and hear for ourselves. It is our country which is at stake.
At this time, then, we must remember all those young Belizeans of the 1969 to 1972 generation who stood strong for freedom, justice, and equality. We must honor their legacy.
Things have changed in 44 years, and today the Kremandala institution does business with many of the major business players in Belize. Partridge Street made a major decision in 1977 to dedicate ourselves to the creation of jobs. The UBAD organization had broken in two in 1973, and that was the end of that. Amandala remained, and became Kremandala in 1989. This is history.
The nature of Belizean public life being as bipolar as it is, there have been times when the leaders of the PUP have told their followers that we are owned by the UDP. And there are times when the leaders of the UDP tell their followers that we are owned by the PUP. Dishonest politicians. Bogus politicians. Corrupt politicians. The ownership of Kremandala is vested in the people. For these 44 years the proof of the pudding is in the eating. Or, you can put it another way. The story is in black and white. You can read it any time. This is the history.
Power to the people. Power in the struggle.