“Like most religious people, the Pope is idealistic but not realistic. I think he would benefit from reading Father de las Casas’ books, The Disruption of the Indies and The Tears of the Indians. I would also refer him to Eric Williams’ From Columbus to Castro and Documents on West Indian History. After reading these books, he might understand why most of us, both African Americans and Indigenous Americans, lack the capacity to ‘forgive’ or forget the monumental crimes committed against our people.”
– pg. 21, INTRODUCTION, Christopher Columbus and the Afrikan Holocaust, John Henrik Clarke, EWorld Inc., 1993
Even as his Venezuelan predecessor, Simón Bolívar, had done two centuries ago, the late Venezuelan president, Hugo Chavez, dreamed of uniting the Latin American and Caribbean nations south of the Rio Grande in a grouping which would be able to challenge the hegemonic power of the colossus to the north – the United States of America.
In his radio and television presentation broadcast regionally yesterday afternoon from Kingston, Jamaica, Minister Louis Farrakhan (whose father was born in Jamaica and his mother in St. Kitts) explained his dream of seeing the Caribbean, Central American, and upper South American nations work more closely together. Farrakhan believes that the big problem is one of communication, because of language differences. The abovementioned nations are post-colonial constructs, which use the languages of their former colonial masters – Spain, England, France, and the Netherlands.
Since his visit last year to Belize, we have noted that Minister Farrakhan is quite careful in handling the problem which exists between Spanish-speaking Guatemala and English-speaking Belize. The 2014 problem exists because of a Guatemalan claim to Belizean territory which dates back to the nineteenth century colonial era, when Great Britain controlled Belize, which became an independent, sovereign nation-state in September of 1981.
The Minister was not shy, however, with respect to indicting previous Popes of Rome who had encouraged and blessed Spanish and Portuguese imperialist adventures which featured the enslavement of millions of Africans and the murder of millions of Indigenous Americans.
Minister Farrakhan was marking the 19th anniversary of the “Million Man March” he had successfully organized in the United States in 1995. Sunday afternoon was the first time an anniversary of that event had been celebrated by the Nation of Islam outside the borders of the continental United States. (Minister Farrakhan, who is 81, lives in Chicago, Illinois.)
There was a significant difference between slavery in the United States and slavery in the British Caribbean. In the Caribbean, the British essentially encouraged the education of black people in both the slavery and the colonial eras. In certain states in the United States, however, there was a conscious and organized effort to prevent black people, both in the slavery and post-slavery eras, from learning to read and write and think in an educated manner.
As a result of the relatively superior education West Indian blacks brought to the United States after World War II, it was, ironically, Caribbean blacks who benefited immensely from the modern African American civil rights struggle, which began in 1955 with the Rosa Parks incident in Alabama. When civil rights legislation was enacted by the United States government in 1964 and 1965, and American businesses and corporations were pressured to include blacks in management and more skilled employment, Caribbean blacks were better equipped educationally than American blacks to take advantage of the new opportunities, even though it was American blacks who had fought to create those new opportunities.
When Jamaica’s Marcus Garvey and his Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) exploded on the United States scene out of Garvey’s Harlem headquarters in the early 1920s, powerful black American leaders found different reasons to oppose Garveyism. Garvey always insisted that “truth crushed to earth shall rise again,” and even though he was jailed by the American government in 1925 and deported to Jamaica two years later, Garveyism began to rise again in the 1930s, in a metamorphosed form, in his Jamaican homeland with the Rastafarian movement. That Rastafarian movement is what gave Jamaica, the Caribbean, and the world, the incredible musical prophet, Robert Nesta Marley, in the late 1960s and 1970s. Marley became an international phenomenon.
Garveyism in fact influenced the black American struggle at the roots level even after Garvey himself was deported from the United States. Garveyism had significant influence on the Hon. Elijah Muhammad, who founded the Nation of Islam (NOI) and converted both Malcolm X and Louis Farrakhan to the NOI. (Malcolm X’s father, Earl Little, had been murdered by the Ku Klux Klan because of his Garveyite activities in the American Midwestern states.)
Minister Louis Farrakhan’s decision to move his pulpit to the Caribbean, if only for Sunday’s impressive event, was a strategic one which proves how creative in his thinking the Minister remains. His 1995 Million Man March was a supreme effort which the United States power structure and their media did their best to ridicule and derail, but the Minister’s visionary initiative proved a major success.
On Friday on the CNN television network, their Wolf Blitzer derided the fact that “little Belize” on Thursday, October 16, had refused to cooperate with an American State Department proposal which, at that specific time, appeared to the Prime Minister of Belize to expose the vulnerable Belize population to the terrifying ebola virus.
The American State Department was playing politics. The Barack Obama-led Democratic Party government has mid-term elections coming up on November 4. They are under severe attack from the Republican Party, and the serial mishandling of the hospital case in Dallas, Texas involving the first ebola patient to enter the United States, one Thomas Duncan from Liberia, has embarrassed the Obama administration. In the course of their frantic damage control, the Obama administration wanted Belize to pretend that there was no danger involved with the processing of a cruise ship passenger who was in self-quarantine because of having handled Duncan’s lab specimens two and a half weeks before.
Belize, little Belize, knew that there was enough danger here where we had to refuse the request of the mighty United States of America. The message to Wolf Blitzer is this: In Belize, Mr. Wolf, we know how to read and write and think. Wheel, sir, wheel and come again.
Power to Belize. Power to the people.