Features — 05 May 2018

APRIL 27, 2018– In 1798, when the Settlers of the swamps and bush became aware that a flotilla from Yucatan would sail to the Settlement to dislodge them, they held a meeting and decided unanimously to confront that Spanish force and defend what they had come to regard as home.  Spanish explorers had passed through and skinned up their nose regarding where they were treading as not worth the effort to colonize.  British pirates, however, had thought the shallows and swamps of this land very suitable as safe havens, from which to launch their efforts in piracy.

So in September of 1798 led by H.M.S. Merlin and boarded on other small vessels also the Baymen sailed to St. George’s Caye to confront the Spanish threat. We do not know exactly why the Spanish forces left the field of battle, but they did.

Common sense tells me that when you abandon the field of battle, you lose and abandon the claim that had caused you to embark on a mission to exert your will to possess.

UTI POSSIDETIS, Latin words, express the principle of International Law that when you leave the battlefield the land you were claiming becomes the property of the one who stays in occupation. The Hon. Philip Goldson and the thousands who annually celebrated the Tenth of September, the Battle of St. George’s Caye, had it right!  Before that date our forefathers had requested permission from Spain to carry out certain economic activities. After that moment looking to Spain ceased. The Baymen simply did what they needed to do to develop the swampy land to make it more fruitful for their use.

Guided by his interviewer, His Excellency David Gibson did not touch on the significance of the Battle of St. George’s Caye in his otherwise brilliant answers on the Guatemalan Issue published on page 3 of the AMANDALA issue of 20th April, 2018.

One of the main misconceptions that Gibson clarified was that of a breach of the treaty of 1859 by Britain. He states there was none. When Britain was ready to fulfill the agreement to build the road, Guatemala was not ready, being involved in a territorial armed conflict with its other neighbor El Salvador.

The Referendum will reveal how the People of Belize feel about the Guatemalan Issue. It is quite possible that the vast majority will vote NO. They feel that neither Spain nor Guatemala ever possessed Belize and that it is archaic to propose that you should claim to inherit a land for whose development you placed not a single finger. This land rightfully belongs to the sons and daughters of the Baymen who risked their lives to possess it and develop it.

What do we do after a NO vote?  First of all, we need a new government with leaders committed to BELIZE FIRST, not to personal enrichment.

So far the present administration seems committed to accommodating Guatemala instead of insisting on Belizean Sovereignty over its whole land, which the world community conceded was truly ours when we became independent on 21st September 1981. Certainly claiming that our border is artificial was a great diplomatic mistake.

Like the Baymen of 1798 we need to stand up in the presence of the world community and state categorically: THIS IS OUR LAND, and we shall surrender it to NO ONE. We are only four hundred thousand, but every single one of us is prepared to stand up and peacefully insist: WE SHALL NOT YIELD EVEN ONE SQUARE CENTIMETRE!

To prepare our people for a united Belize, full of courage but with love for peace and Good neighbourly feelings we need truly committed patriotic leaders, not hustlers, who may even dare to use this issue to fill their selfish wants. We need a new government that is firmly committed to Social Justice and to the Rule of Law. We need leaders who are willing to surrender the privileges of power to show solidarity with even the humblest Belizean, holding hands across this nation, north to south, east to west.

We are the true owners of this GLORIOUS SWAMP. We are the sons and daughters of the BAYMEN!

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Deshawn Swasey

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