Churchill in 1940 emphatically refused to make plans to dispatch the British fleet to American ports in the event of Britain’s defeat, and he argued against evacuating children to Canada. Both measures he thought were ‘defeatist.’ Any discussion of transferring the fleet he wrote ‘is bound to weaken confidence here at the moment when all must brace themselves for the supreme struggle.’ When asked a few days later if the Royal family and certain valuable art works should be sent to Canada for safety when things looked most bleak, Churchill replied, ‘None must go. We are going to beat them.’
– pg 13, Churchill on Leadership, Steven F. Hayward, Three Rivers Press, 1998
Lately, some members of the Belizean Diaspora in the USA have been clamoring for political power; arguing that dual citizens should be allowed to hold elected political office in Belize. There has been no clear articulation about how such an arrangement would work in practice, particularly about how such dual citizens would avoid the obvious conflict of interests that are bound to arise in the practice of state craft.
Some argue that naturalized Belizeans are allowed to hold such office and therefore it is unfair to disallow “born Belizeans” the opportunity to hold high political office as well. Of course, this is comparing mangoes and oranges. No apples here, sorry!
I do not support the view that dual citizens should hold elected political office in Belize, simply because it seems wholly self-defeating. Why should we grant political power to those who do not have to remain in Belize to live with the consequences of their political decisions?
Many in the Diaspora fled Belize to escape the harsh economic realities. What makes you think they will not run in the face of an invading Guatemala? Or some great natural catastrophe? Or a sustained economic depression? Or deep internal political conflict? We need leaders that are as committed to Belize as Churchill was to Britain. Such commitment is diluted by dual citizenship.
The Diaspora as far as I have been able to gather is disorganized. They carry no political weight in the USA and collectively they have done nothing for Belize as a nation state. I do not make reference to the remittances sent to their families; this is a personal undertaking, though it is important to our Gross National Product.
Many in the Diaspora have been absorbed into American culture. I do not fault them. American culture is infectious because it is predicated upon human weaknesses – selfishness and greed predominates. It takes a high level of enlightenment to exist in such a culture and not be overcome by it. The lack of a strong national identity makes Belizeans even more vulnerable to the appeal of American culture, thus many in the Diaspora are more American than they are Belizean.
When one speaks in the manner that I am now doing, the first thing that the Diaspora does is to accuse you of being jealous. They assert that you are envious because they are living the American dream and you are not.
I advance however, that they have given us too much of the USA as it is. They have given us a First World mentality that clashes bitterly with our Third World reality. The Diaspora has given us summer, autumn, winter and spring. They have given us Thanksgiving and Super Bowl parties; gay rights disguised as human rights; single mothers and independent women; gang bangers and crack heads.
The Diaspora has given us many things, but my question to the Diaspora remains: What have you done for me lately?
I do not wish to make light of the fact that there a quite a few Belizeans in the Diaspora who have achieved great personal success in the USA and who possess critical skills that Belize so desperately needs to advance its development. My point is that if one truly wishes to help with national development there are other ways to do so other than by way of political office. You need only look to Dr. Arlie Petters, Dr. Bernard Bulwer, Reginald Jex, et al.
It is intriguing to me why it is that the Diaspora has been so silent in the face of the many challenges that confront us as a nation—the eastward drift by Guatemala, a stalled economy, the KHMH crisis, the rape of our precious rosewood, the Penner betrayal, and so on and so forth. Yet they thirst for political power.
Major Lloyd Jones (R)
(Ed. NOTE: The views of the letter writer are his own. We welcome responses from the Diaspora.)