Editorial — 17 January 2018
Flipping the Southside script

“First of all, the FBI would not have investigated Mr. Goldson: that would have been the job for the CIA. The agency was active in Belize during the 1960s. After the Christmas and New Year’s holiday (1967-1968), a meeting was set up with the Hon. Philip Goldson at his Belize Billboard office at #99 Barrack Road by the CIA Station Chief at the time, U.S. Consul Robert Tepper. At that meeting was longtime CIA representative for all Latin America, William George Gaudet, who went around gathering information for his paper, the LatinAmerican Reports, from which he made a lot of money. He said he met with the British Governor of Belize, Sir John Paul. Well, so did I, and Sir John would certainly have questioned me about Philip’s activities.”

“It was at a meeting held in London in May of 1966 that Goldson was able to make notes during restroom breaks which resulted in leaks of the 13 Proposals. The British, under the direction of the head of MI-6, Sir John Rennie, wanted to prosecute Goldson under the Official Secrets Act, but to do so would have required divulging all pertinent information. When I met Sir John Rennie in London, his alias was Deputy Under-Secretary of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Relations Office.”

–    pg. 45, COMPTON FAIRWEATHER SHEDS “SOME LIGHT” ON THE FBI’S GOLDSON FILES, Amandala, Friday, December 8, 2017.

The reason why what happened with the formation of the United Democratic Party (UDP) in September 1973 is important, is because, when we ask the question if there has been an improvement in the socio-economic matrix of the Southside from then until now, specifically for the native roots youth who were represented by the UBAD Party in 1973, we think the answer would have to be no.

The circumstances of the UDP’s formation in 1973 constituted the replacement of Hon. Philip Goldson as Leader of the Opposition, a position he had held since late 1961, and his being replaced without his being defeated in a leadership convention.

No one in the UDP ever wants to talk about what happened in 1973, and they have gotten away with refusing to talk, successfully enough to have won five terms as independent Belize’s ruling party (1984, 1993, 2008, 2012, and 2015) and to have solidified themselves on the Southside to the point where the Southside represents the UDP’s political stronghold.

The UDP first dethroned the People’s United Party (PUP) on the Southside in the 1979 general election, when the UDP won two of the then three Southside seats – Albert, (Mr. Goldson) and Mesopotamia (Hon. Curl Thompson), while the PUP held on to Collet (Hon. V. H. Courtenay).

In their first general election in 1974, the UDP had probably won the Collet seat, with more votes for their Ken Tillett than for the PUP’s Courtenay in the first two counts at the Matron Roberts Health Center. Collet was by far the largest constituency in Belize City (3502 registered voters) in 1974, so that after the third count, when the PUP won by a single vote, it was already broad daylight the following day, and the exhausted UDP counting agents in Collet threw in the towel. This is the election defeat for which Michael Finnegan, Mr. Tillett’s campaign manager, blamed Evan X Hyde and his 89 votes. The real blame lay with Karl Mahler and his UDP counting team.

Mr. Goldson joined the UDP in the subordinate/position of Party Whip when he returned from law studies in London in mid-1974, but he split from the UDP to lead his own party, the National Alliance for Belizean Rights (NABR), in 1991, and remained in NABR until he passed in 2001. (NABR entered a coalition with the UDP for the June 1993 general election on the condition that the Maritime Areas Act (MAA) would be repealed if UDP/NABR won. The coalition won, but the MAA remained.)

In order to replace the absent Mr. Goldson as Opposition Leader in September 1973, the UDP power brokers had to divide the leadership of the UBAD Party, which controlled the youth and streets of Belize City in early 1973. The story of how the UDP power brokers divided UBAD began with a visit to Belize made by the Rev. Gerald Fairweather, father of the one Compton Fairweather, in August of 1971.  Rev. Fairweather took the UBAD leaders to James Brodie, where he bought cloth for UBAD leaders and members/supporters to march on September 10, 1971 in uniforms of green pants and red shirts, some UBADers also being outfitted with black berets. Nobody in UBAD knew where the money came from, and nobody cared. Rev. Fairweather then returned to Brooklyn.

Within weeks, Hon. Philip Goldson, the only Opposition area representative in the House and Leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition, the National Independence Party (NIP), asked that the UBAD Party join his NIP in a coalition for the December 1971 Belize City Council election.

When the NIP/UBAD coalition lost in December 1971, in an election boycotted by Dean Lindo’s People’s Development Movement (PDM), the politically inexperienced UBAD President, Evan X Hyde, accompanied by Ismail Omar Shabazz, the UBAD Secretary/Treasurer, went to New York City to see Compton Fairweather, then chairman of the British Honduras Freedom Committee. Apart from being hosted at a Freedom Committee town hall meeting on Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn, the UBAD delegation achieved nothing with their January 1972 visit. There was a message, therefore, being sent to X Hyde and Shabazz: you have no role to play. Presumably, a message had already been sent to Mr. Goldson: your role henceforth will be subordinate.

The scuttlebutt was that Compton’s Freedom Committee was supported by 8,000 Belizean Americans who each subscribed $10 US a month to support the Opposition (read NIP) in British Honduras. When we asked Compton about this on Friday, December 1, 2017, he answered in an indirect manner, asserting that Sir John Rennie, the British intelligence official, had estimated the Freedom Committee’s support at 5,000.

Compton Fairweather was a ranking employee of the Bell Telephone Company, the leading company in the United States back then. To work in such a company at the level where Compton was, that meant you had to have security clearance from the United States government. In his attempt to “shed some light” on the FBI Goldson files (which accused Mr. Goldson of working along with the Cuban government), in an article published in the Friday, December 8, 2017 issue of Amandala, three days after Amandala had broken the FBI Goldson files story in our Tuesday, December 5, 2017 issue, Compton Fairweather referred to Sir John Rennie as “the head of MI-6,” so that his relationship with Sir John Rennie suggests that Compton also had British security clearance.

The UDP leader who should have answered the revelations made in the declassified FBI Goldson files should have been Housing Minister, Hon. Michael Finnegan, who had been a member of UBAD in 1972 and became a founding member of the UDP in September of 1973. The then UDP Leader, attorney Dean Lindo, is ailing and no longer active in UDP politics. Finnegan represents the bridge from 1973 to 2018, and he should be asked for his opinion on the FBI Goldson files. Finnegan was one of the bridges from UBAD to the UDP. He is a bridge between the first UDP Leader, the said Dean Lindo, and the UDP’s fourth Leader, Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow, Mr. Lindo’s nephew and presently Prime Minister of Belize.

After the UDP was formed under the supervision of the aforementioned Rev. Gerald Fairweather, the Freedom Committee began to fade from sight. New York City Belizeans became less important in Opposition politics, as the center of UDP activity became Los Angeles and the California area, where such personalities as Roland Yorke, Paul Warren and Ernest Lindo, Jr., emerged to coordinate fund-raising for Dean Lindo and the UDP. Mervyn Dymally and Ron Dellums were powerful African American politicians in California with whom the UDP was linked in the 1970s.

We are not satisfied with Compton Fairweather’s attempt to discredit the source of FBI and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) information on Mr. Goldson, the one William George Gaudet. In addition, his comment that British Honduras Governor, Sir John Paul, “would certainly have questioned” him, Compton, “about Philip’s activities,” is sensational, from the standpoint of Belizeans’ trying to figure out exactly what role Compton Fairweather was playing at the time. Remember, he was a trusted confidant of Mr. Goldson’s.

In May of 1966, Mr. Goldson defied both the Americans and the British to reveal the Thirteen Proposals. Did Mr. Fairweather remain loyal to Mr. Goldson or did he consider his relationship with British and American officials more important to his career?

The bottom line is this. When he was replaced in 1973 as Leader of the Opposition, Hon. Philip Goldson was still the Belizean political leader who was most trusted by the Belizean people, and the Opposition leader with the most popular support. It was not the Belizean people who chose to replace Mr. Goldson. This decision was made above the heads and without the knowledge of the Belizean people. That is our thesis, and that is the reason why we challenge Hon. Michael Finnegan to give a public statement on the FBI Goldson files.

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Deshawn Swasey

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