“No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it” (Albert Einstein 1879 – 1955)
There is an urgent need for a National Policy and Plan to ensure the preservation and survival of the nation state of Belize for the next generation. I humbly offer an 8-Point framework to initiate a discussion on it.
Belize is confronted by many challenges today, the most significant and pressing being the erosion of our territorial integrity and sovereignty, and our unique Belizean identity and way of life. If this is to continue, Belize and Belizeans are on a path to extinction, for if there is no Belize, there are no Belizeans.
Sad to say, our government appears clueless and incapable as how to stop and reverse this trajectory.
I wish to refer to a few instructive excerpts from your editorials:
“Belize has reached a critical point in its existence, where the wheat has to be separated from the chaff. Belizeans at home and abroad have to decide whether The Jewel is worth fighting for.” – Amandala Editorial of June 2, 2015.
“For Belize to survive, the whole of our able-bodied population may need to be trained and mobilized. This is where we have reached today.” – Amandala Editorial of June 5, 2015.
“We have to make our territorial integrity real. Now, the mettle of roots Belizeans will be tested. It will take a revolutionary government to stand up to Guatemala. The republic to the west wants our ‘wealth untold.’” Amandala Editorial of June 16, 2015.
Why do I say the government appears clueless and incapable? Firstly, in responding to a question from the media as to why Guatemala is fast tracking the referendum and strongly supporting going to the ICJ for a solution to their claim to Belize, the Foreign Minister cited the reason as the “economics of maturity” as Guatemala stands to gain many benefits by going to the ICJ, the primary one being access to CARICOM markets.
If it was not for your editorial of May 22, 2015 “The claim which is a land grab,” that unmasked this “fallacy,” we would be led as a people to believe that this claim has nothing to do with the 8,867 square miles + 12 miles territorial seas and sea bed, and 200 miles of exclusive economic zone of “wealth untold” that is Belize. That is, the oil, gold, forestry, fishes and so many more, too numerous to mention, and some yet to be discovered.
Secondly, as I have opined before, time is of no consequence to fanatics. History records that in 1839, one hundred and seventy six years (176) ago, Guatemala laid claim to the sovereignty of the settlement of British Honduras as an “inheritance of Spain”. This claim remains today, despite the passage of time and the many attempts to resolve it. To quote the former president of Guatemala, Miguel Ydigoras Fuentes, “Belize will be ours by right or might.”
So while Guatemala and Belize engage in paper and coat-and-tie diplomacy, the reality is that in furtherance of their claim, Guatemalan is inculcating the minds of each generation that Belize is theirs, their citizens and army continue to enter Belize illegally, and rape and destroy our forests, steal and destroy our wildlife and fish stocks, they build settlements in our protected areas and tell us to not to construct a military base on our land, they kidnap and murder our citizens and break bilateral agreements.
And what do we do? We continue to facilitate their access to Belizean citizenship, which now stands at conservatively 6-8% of the total population. While we must be mindful of the many genuine people pursuing a better life, often it is fraudulently facilitated, without appreciating the implications, by unscrupulous, near-sighted and power hungry politicians and public officers on the take simply to win elections and for greed.
We also continue to be economically entrapped by operating a massive trade deficit in their favor, to see nothing wrong in Belize and “Belice” and border and “adjacency zone” being used interchangeably, and to accede our territory and sovereignty to them. We no longer have the luxury to bury our heads in the sand.
The way forward:
We must be our own messiahs. Only we can protect and defend what is ours and our children’s and grandchildren’s birthright. We are duty bound to position the preservation and survival of the nation state of Belize as a priority, a first goal of a new revolution, and to act with boldness and inclusivity.
This requires all Belizeans accepting that the claim will always be with us until Guatemala has its way. If this is not to occur, it is incumbent upon this generation to devise a National Policy and Plan as a component of a national vision, for the preservation and survival of the Nation State of Belize, with achievable milestones and clear indicators of success, guided by “out of the box” thinking, and a conversation inclusive of all Belizeans, and not one that is monopolized by Foreign Ministers and neck-tie entourages.
The following can be a start:
1. The defense of the Nation State of Belize shall be the 1st call on the Consolidated Revenue Fund.
Amend S 118 of the Constitution of Belize to reflect this.
2. Mobilization of all Belizeans (living in Belize and in diaspora) for the continued survival and preservation of Belize through sustained knowledge building, awareness and sharing
Establish an office within the National Assembly specifically for the purpose of crafting and executing policies, programmes and actions necessary for knowledge building, sharing and awareness of the unfounded claim of Guatemala, and the implications of continuing business as usual, with the people of Belize, through education, advocacy and action, that mainstream this knowledge into the consciousness of the Belizean people from birth and throughout their lives, and which motivates them to be duty bound to ensure the survival and preservation of Belize;
3. Finding a role for every Belizean in the defense of Belize, regardless of age
Mandate the training of all Belizeans in varying and needed skills set, regardless of age, to participate in the defense of Belize. Mandate also for all Belizeans, upon reaching the age of 18, to serve in the Belize Defence Force for a minimum of three years, and to be in the reserve thereafter.
4. Accelerate and sustain the internationalization of the unfounded claim of Guatemala
Accelerate and sustain a strong campaign internationalizing the unfounded claim and the atrocious actions of Guatemala in furtherance of their pursuit of their unfounded claim, and the necessary actions of Belize in protecting its territory, sovereignty and people.
5. The rationalization of land use and construction of border settlements
Build a network of settlements and military posts on the borders of Belize to act as a deterrent to illegal encroachment and exploitation. This requires amending laws for protected areas to accommodate these settlements as a front and first line of defense;
6. Investment in geographic information systems, satellite imagery, drone and other technology
Invest in GIS, satellite imagery and drone technologies to name a few, for real time capturing, monitoring, tracking and quick response to illegal encroachment by Guatemalans;
7. Belize and Belize Border Adjacency Zone
Mandate Belize and Belize Border Adjacency Zone to be the only spelling and terminology to be used when referencing our country and the 1-mile adjacency zone to our border.
8. The introduction of treason laws
Introduce laws to penalize persons with life imprisonment, who knowingly and willingly engage in acts that undermine the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Belize, such acts to include the fraudulent naturalization and registration of Guatemalan and other citizens as citizens and voters of Belize.
Let history record us as being bold and courageous, rather than the generation that presided over the journey to extinction of our beloved Belize.