The Kremandala organization looks to Nuri Akbar as our representative in Los Angeles, California, and we publish his views in Amandala from time to time. We respect his ideas greatly, but we do not always subscribe to them completely.
For instance, in his last article published in last weekend’s issue of this newspaper, Nuri Akbar said that “ … Belize has no alternative but to step up to the regional balance and ask for Cuba’s assistance, both from a military standpoint and leveraging its expertise and experience in international diplomacy.” That is a good idea, but the time has not yet come for that.
If Belize draws closer to Cuba, Guatemala will interpret such a move as indicative of open hostility on Belize’s part towards Guatemala. At the same time, how much longer can we Belizeans tolerate Guatemala’s provoking us, bullying us, threatening us, and actually humiliating us? Guatemala is our immediate neighbor, and so we want to exhaust all peaceful and diplomatic options before we make military alliances with Guatemala’s enemies. That is a given.
In the Western Hemisphere, we can think of no relationship involving nations of similar population size which are in relative proximity to each other, which has been so intensely hostile for as long as the relationship between Guatemala and Cuba. That hostility began in January of 1959 when the Cuban Revolution overthrew the Cuban military dictator, Fulgencio Batista. Fidel Castro then declared himself communist, when Guatemala was being run by the hard line, anti-communist general, Miguel Ydígoras Fuentes. From 1959 until now, Cuba has remained communist, whereas Guatemala remains a capitalist oligarchy controlled by a neo-European minority supported by the military and the Church.
The Cubans will never forget that Guatemala allowed the Americans to train Cuban exiles there for the abortive Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba in 1961, while the Guatemalan power structure will always hold the Cubans responsible for any leftist uprising or guerrilla movement in Guatemala. Cuba and Guatemala represent the extreme opposites on the Cold War spectrum of political philosophies which divided the world after World War II and almost caused nuclear war in October of 1962.
In mid-December last year, the Citizens Organized for Liberty through Action (COLA) flatly rejected the option of having the International Court of Justice (ICJ) rule on the Guatemalan claim to Belize. This newspaper is friendly with COLA, but we felt the need to declare that COLA does not speak for us. We mean no disrespect to COLA, but we stand by that declaration.
Our younger friends are more impatient than we are, and we understand why. In Belize there is a long history of Belizean personalities being seduced by Guatemalan moneys and operating as fifth columnists in our country. There was a time during the anti-colonial movement when high-ranking Belizean political leaders made the excuse that Guatemalan financial assistance was only being used to free Belize from British colonialism, that there was no intent to have Belize be swallowed up by Guatemala.
Moving deliberately and diplomatically, Belize has come a long way since those days of the 1950s. Now we are an independent nation, and, even though we have our problems, we are respected as a sovereign territory in this region. Some time ago, Belize’s political leaders, both PUP and UDP, began to take some things for granted, and did not realize that the end of Guatemala’s civil war in 1996 created an opportunity for Guatemala to clean up its horrible regional image. Belize’s political leaders took so many things for granted that Guatemala actually began to accuse Belize’s military of fatal aggression against Guatemalan citizens. The fact of the matter was that Guatemalan citizens were “invading” Belizean territory, but Belize’s political leaders dropped the ball, in diplomatic terms.
Let it be known that we consider Alejandro Vernon’s voice an irrelevant one in Belize’s third millennium situation. Belize’s young people have become militant, and there is a need to counsel our youth carefully. Alejandro cannot accept that he is a relic of the past, that he is out of touch with the new generations. Yes, Alejandro knows where a lot of the PUP’s bodies are buried, but that is his and the PUP’s business. Yes, Alejandro is supporting the Church and the Church is supporting him, but Belizean young people no longer believe that they will become mermaids if they go swimming on Good Friday.
The fact of the matter is that Fidel Castro sent his soldiers all the way to southern Africa to help fight apartheid. It would be a relatively easy thing for him to move his military here. So, Nuri Akbar isn’t talking through his hat.
And, the Belizean people appear hostile to the ICJ initiative, so COLA isn’t a voice crying in the wilderness.
Guatemala and Alejandro must understand there are reasons why Amandala is the leading newspaper in Belize. We ain’t no “johnny-come-lately.” We have never betrayed the Belizean people or sold them out to foreign interests. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.
Power to the people.