In the nineteenth century, Britain and other European powers tied their expansionist success to the direct control of foreign lands. World War II made this no longer an option for the United States. The European powers had already divided most of the world among themselves, and the ideological mood of the time was clearly against colonialism and territorial expansion. The allied powers had made World War II a war against the expansionist desires of Germany, Japan, and Italy, and the United States had framed the war as an anticolonial struggle, criticizing the colonial powers, and pledging to assist with the decolonization of colonial territories upon war’s end. After the war, the creation of the United Nations enshrined the decolonization process and the right of nations and peoples to self-determination and self-government.
“In the 1950s era of decolonization,” writes anthropologist Carole McGranahan, “empires did not go away, but went underground, surfacing in guises ranging from socialist empire in the Soviet Union to various forms of neo-imperialist aggressive democracy as in the case of the United States. Yet each of these polities,” she explains, “fiercely guarded themselves against any accusations of empire or imperialism.”
– pg. 54, ISLAND OF SHAME: The Secret History of the U.S. Military Base on Diego Garcia, by David Vine, Princeton University Press, 2009
The first thing we will say to you in this editorial, dear readers, and we say it with pride, is that the family which owns this newspaper and the Ahmad/Bulwer family are related. The matriarchs of the two families come from the Escarpeta/Kingston lines.
The breadth and savagery of the Belize Special Branch attack on Monday morning against the Ahmad family suggest to us that the local secret service did not have any really hard evidence: they were searching for same. In medicine, they call this exploratory surgery. They usually perform it on guinea pigs.
As we write on Thursday morning, roughly 72 hours after the raid on the Ahmads, the head of the Special Branch has yet to make himself available for questioning by the Belizean media. What is worse is that the secret service has yet to produce any evidence which would justify the massive disrespect shown to a ranking Belizean family. The Ahmad family was violated.
Partly because he is based in Belmopan, the Minister of National Security has been getting away with remaining silent on major issues. For instance, Minister John Saldivar almost never speaks about the Chiquibul or the Sarstoon, much less Hunting Caye. He has had his Chief Executive Officer, Retired BDF Colonel George Lovell, do almost all the talking. If Saldivar were based in Belize City, he would not get away from his responsibilities so easily.
When Mr. Marco Vidal first entered the public limelight, it was along with the Gang Suppression Unit (GSU), which he introduced and led. The reckless, brutal nature of the GSU indicated to people like ourselves that this was not a homegrown product: it was made in the United States of America. The salient point is that Mr. Vidal’s career has involved, in our opinion, reporting to bosses other than the Belizean bureaucrats and politicians whom we Belizeans,through the media in the first instance, can hold responsible in the normal course of things.
Mr. Vidal moved from leadership of the controversial GSU to command of the secretive Special Branch a few years ago. It was somewhat of a strange move, because the GSU, on the one hand, was so high profile, and the Special Branch, on the other hand, so shadowy. In any case, the nature of his present spy organization is such that Mr. Vidal can get away with ignoring or avoiding the media. Or, so it seems.
The politicians who are elected by the Belizean people should not be so privileged. The Ahmad raid is one more step towards creating a police state climate in Belize. We have discussed the unconstitutional nature of the gun and drug laws in Belize, where whole families are held responsible for any gun or drug material found in their surroundings and where citizens are treated as guilty until proven innocent. We Belizeans allowed the gun and drug laws to remain because our elected politicians wished for such laws to remain on the books. And the primary reason our puffed up politicians wished for that status quo to remain in place is because they are taking instructions from the representatives of the United States of America.
Such a state of affairs used to be called colonialism: today, it is referred to as hegemony. Well, the United States is mighty big, and Belize is pretty small. When the hegemony involved Belizean authorities abusing Belizeans at the base of the socio-economic pyramid, the rest of us could excuse that and turn our heads on the grounds, presumably, that the victims were criminal types. Unconstitutional laws were being employed, but surely this practice would not spread upwards on the pyramid; surely, Belize would not become a police state.
The catastrophic terrorist events of September 9, 2001, had given the American military–industrial complex the excuse to move towards a police state in the United States, especially where the monitoring and treatment of Muslims and foreigners were concerned. Black Americans, and most of the world outside the United States, hoped for a less harsh superpower when Barack Obama, the son of a black African and a white American lady, was elected to the U.S. presidency in 2008. Whatever Mr. Obama’s personal feelings or intentions, the military-industrial complex, which controlled his security and, in other words, had the power of life and death over him, quickly laid down the protocol to Mr. Barack: do as we say or suffer the consequences.
Some of you will consider the above to constitute conspiracy theory. Fair enough. Explain to us what happened to the Ahmads on Monday. Come on, don’t be hiding behind your United Democratic Party robes and romance. You’ve just been re-elected to office: you have four and a half years before any challenge. If you did this to the Ahmads in the morning, you can do it to the rest of us in the afternoon. Simple, and straight like that.
Mr. Politician, you can’t confess to us that you’re following orders, because that would make you look less regal than you’d like to appear. So then, who’s to blame? Don’t blame Marco. We all know where he came from and how he used to roll. Blame the same people who give you instructions in the Chiquibul and at the Sarstoon. The Ahmads found themselves in the adjacency zone, and someone said to them, this belongs to Washington. Real.
Power to the people.