It is past the point where we Belizeans need to be careful, to check ourselves before we wreck ourselves. The innocence of our September celebrations has been polluted by our desire for the relatively easy tourist dollar, among other things.
We describe the tourist dollar as “easy,” because we compare it to the fishing dollar or the sugar cane dollar. (The fishing and sugar cane dollars, by contrast, are sweat and pain dollars.) The children and youth of Belize are the ones who are presently in the most danger because they have the highest sexual value in the marketplace of sex deviants. Sex deviants come along with the mainstream foreign tourists, wholesome visitors looking for rest and relaxation from their hard-working, competitive lifestyles in America and Europe.
Overall, our Belizean society is vulnerable because we have a load of poverty. When families are poor, often hunger is a daily reality. Some parents have to send their children out into the streets to “hustle,” because there is no food at home. In the streets there is danger, especially at night, and that danger increases when bacchanalia and debauchery become accepted features of the season, so to speak.
Many of us felt Mr. Price was too old-fashioned when it came to his timidity where things like television and tourism were concerned. Now that the television and the tourism have been here for decades, we can surely understand what Mr. Price was worried about, what he was afraid of.
When we speak about bacchanalia and debauchery, we refer to behavior which involves the loss of our everyday human inhibitions because of alcohol and drugs. We are not puritans or prudes on Partridge Street: we are not guardians of public morality. This guardianship of public morality is supposed to be the purview of our professional clerics. We emphasize “professional,” because they are paid to preach. They are not wandering in the desert eating locusts and wild honey like the prophets of old. The burden of proof of our public morality falls on the shoulders of our professional clerics, not on Partridge Street.
Tony Wright has been arguing for years that the September (now August is included) celebrations should belong exclusively to Belizean artists. Such a restriction would of itself reduce the bacchanalia and debauchery because promoters would not have to look at the exaggerated expenses involved with foreign artists. Promotions with Belizean artists would be more modest.
Remember now, the people who sell the alcohol and drugs only care about their profit margins: the human casualties of bacchanalia and debauchery do not matter to them, because they have no conscience. It is because of the alcohol and drug businesses, in the first instance, why there has been this push for bigger and wilder parties featuring regional and international stars to attract high roller visitors. It’s no longer about the patriotic celebrations here in September: it’s about the wild parties.
This Faye Lin Cannon case requires serious examination. It is a terrible tragedy, to which the community of Ambergris Caye has reacted with outrage, but after the fact, after the fact. In Belize City, more than fifteen years ago we experienced, helplessly, the serial killings and mutilations of five girl children; our community wounds have never healed, because we are no closer to solving these tragedies now than we were back then.
The creation of the most inviting climate for tourists brings sex-deviant dangers along with it. As a society, we have to be careful. There are societies in the world which are so poor that parents sell their children. In Belize today there are parents who have done the same thing. Do you remember the case a few years ago of the local businessman who held two immigrant girl children as sex slaves with the knowledge of the children’s mother? Cuidado, Belize.
Belizean politicians are in a tricky spot because, clearly, their most important assignment is to create economic opportunities for their constituencies. Again, these are times such as we never experienced in the old British Honduras: Belize has been exposed, big time, to Babylon America and the rest of the world. If you talk to our social workers, they will tell you of how the modern television and tourism environment has negatively affected the sex behavior of our children. Where our present crisis in public morality is concerned, we can’t blame the electoral politicians.
Mr. Price was a unique politician, because he also had the priest side to him, and everyone knew and accepted it. To repeat, the pre-independence times were slower, less exposed, less sophisticated. We mention Mr. Price more than Mr. Goldson, because Mr. Goldson never held political power before independence, and when he did become a Cabinet Minister in 1984, he was not in charge of the government. We believe it is safe to say, nevertheless, that Mr. Goldson would have been almost as cautious as Mr. Price.
The most precious thing we own is our children. When the three sex tragedies occurred which we mentioned previously in this essay (the serial killer/mutilations; the sex slaves; and Faye Lin Cannon), most of us conscientious Belizeans felt a sense of guilt. We asked ourselves the question: didn’t anyone see anything? It is difficult for foreigners to come into Belize and perpetrate sex crimes without some kind of collusion by Belizean accomplices.
As a society, despite how poor we are, we need to have our public morality in a place of honor. If we put the foreign dollar ahead of our public morality, then we continue sliding down that slippery slope which, most recently, brought us to the Faye Lin Cannon tragedy/abomination.
We have said that we can’t blame our politicians. It is for sure, nevertheless, that some of our prominent clerics have been playing politics. Playing politics in the clerical world makes one’s bed softer and one’s bank account fatter. So, what do soft beds and fat bank accounts have to do with their chosen path of supposed righteousness? Nothing at all, beloved, nothing at all.
All of us have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, as it is said, but there is the greatest of responsibility accruing to those who wear the cloth. It may well be that there is a crisis in Belize with respect to our public morality. We Belizeans have a right to expect moral compass from our clerics, not political prostitution.
Power to the people.