When I first came to America in 1978 to live, most Belizean Americans wanted a change of government. Many of them were complaining that they came to this country because they were victims of victimization committed against them by the People’s United Party, and I was one of them who felt and experienced it. I remember attending a “No Guatemala Demonstration” in April of 1977 along with other Corporals of Police like myself.
After the demonstration that same week, I was given an immediate transfer to San Pedro, Ambergris Caye. The problem was that I was scheduled to commence my three-month leave in the month of July that same year. I went to the Commander of Eastern Division at the time, Superintendent Gilbert Franklin, to file a complaint against the transfer, but he said he could not do anything about it.
I then decided to go and appeal to the Premier George Cadle Price, and he said the same thing, but referred me to the Minister of Internal Affairs, Carl Lindbergh “Lindy” Rogers.
When I got to Paslow Building, his Permanent Secretary, Michael Hulse, approached me and said the following; “Corporal, da weh you mi di du di demonstrate with UDP di ada day?” This is Belize Creole language which means; “Corporal, why were you demonstrating with the UDP a few days ago”?
After he said those words to me, I came to the conclusion that it would be a waste of time to see the Minister. I then decided to pack my things and go to San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, the following week.
When I got to the caye I met Corporal Vallan Smith, who was from the village of Rancho and was stationed there. He said to me that the transfer was causing him a lot of inconvenience because his children were in school and he would prefer that the transfer take effect in July after schools were closed.
He also said that he discussed this matter with Superintendent Franklin, but he insisted on transferring him from the village.
That evening Minister Louis Sylvester, who died recently, was scheduled to come to visit the island. While at the Police Station Cpl. Smith received a call that the Minister had just arrived and he wanted to see him. I suggested to him that we should both speak to the Minister about our problems, and he agreed.
When the Minister heard both of our stories, he was outraged, shocked and appalled by them. He asked the Village Council Chairman to lend him his telephone to call the Commissioner of Police, who at the time was Esmond Willoughby.
The Assistant Commissioner, Mr. Hobbs, picked up the telephone and the Minister asked him to locate Commissioner Willoughby immediately. Within thirty minutes Commissioner Willoughby called back the Minister and Cpl. Smith and myself sat there to hear the conversation, and it was not friendly.
I was so proud of the action that Minister Sylvester took, that from that time I have held him in high regard.
I first met Minister Sylvester when I was in the political convention detail for his re-election which was held in Gracie Rock Sibun before the 1974 election. He was a nice and courteous person and always delivered whatever his constituents asked for. This was one of the main reasons why it was difficult for any NIP or UDP to defeat him in the Belize Rural South constituency at the time.
I have only voted in Belize once and that was in the Town Board elections of 2006 when I was living back home in Dangriga. I come from a UDP home, but most of my family members are PUP’s. I do not engage in discussing politics with them because it will create problems. I believe that everybody must always have the right to join any political party he or she chooses to join. I grew up in Dangriga Town witnessing PUP men stoning Philip Goldson with rotten eggs off the rostrum while he was speaking as a child.
Most of these men adored George Price as if he was their God on earth and they had nothing of substance to boast about their own life accomplishments. I found it to be disgusting then, and it was a behavior that no political party should condone or encourage in our country. The things I witnessed some PUP people do when I was a child growing up turned me against the party. I also witnessed when Silky Stewart shot innocent people at the Courthouse Wharf because they were heckling the PUP meeting.
There are more incidents of violence that Belizeans can attest to that were committed by the members of the People’s United Party over the years. I preferred NIP-UDP over PUP at all times, but have never been a member of the NIP-UDP because I was too young to vote and came to this country many years ago.
When I was a police officer back home, it was forbidden for me to be active in any political party.
I also held the view that the UDP is the only hope for Belizeans who possess dual citizenship. Well, I have confirmed that the Prime Minister has no support within his party to re-introduce the Article-7 Amendment. Some of the current UDP Ministers are pretending as if they support us, but behind our backs, they are stabbing us.
Since such is the case, I am calling on all Belizeans who possess dual citizenship to stop believing that they are on our side in our quest to acquire all of our rights as natural-born Belizeans. We must now look for another political party in Belize to address our needs and concerns because both the PUP and the UDP do not have our best interest at heart. We have resources, and we can make a big difference in Belize if we organize ourselves and show them our power.
Let us not sit down and cry like little children, but organize ourselves and let them feel our power as of now.
There are other political parties in Belize and we must find one of them that will advocate on our behalf and give them all the necessary support to be successful. The margin of victory in the last election was slim, and I strongly believe that the way things look, the next government will be a coalition government.
For them to put their own self-interest over the overall interest of all Belizeans is disrespectful to us. They must have forgotten that Belize belongs to all of us and not just some of us. They better wake up, because a serious reminder will come soon.
Wellington C. Ramos