In the footsteps of all the Belizean activists who came before us, and whose footsteps we Belizeans in resistance against imperialism walk in, it is most important that we remember the Mayan Belizean activist Julian Cho; the Belizean Patriot, Minister Philip Goldson; the writer of the Belizean national anthem, Colonel Samuel Haynes; the leaders of the resistance against the Anglo Guatemalan claim of 1981 called the Heads of Agreement, Odinga Lumumba and Maria Socorro Bobadilla; and today in the spirit of the Belizean activist against the Guatemalan military aggression in the South of Belize, Wil Maheia.
It is their spirit that urged me on as a member of the grassroots diaspora Belizean resistance organization, BREDAA, to have possessed the will on Sunday May 29, 2016 at the symposium against the injustices and oppression of indigenous and marginalized peoples around the world that was organized by the 5th. Annual Garifuna International & Indigenous Film Festival in Venice, California, to speak for Belize and the people of Belize against the naked aggression inflicted by the Guatemalan military oligarchy that have invaded and annexed the southern Belizean bordering river of the Sarstoon, and the Belizean land of the Sarstoon Island.
In such an international forum where the cries of the oppressed peoples of the world are heard through their messengers, it is a time when one cannot be silent, for silence is the betrayal of the people. It is hoped that the most spirited and passionate audience that came out to hear the cries, including many concerned Belizeans, would be able to tell one to tell one about Belize’s struggle in Central America against Guatemalan military aggression, as well as the struggle of the boat people and refugees of Vietnam, the genocide committed against the people of West Papua, the sad plight of the Syrian refugees, the resistance of the people of Guam against U.S. military-industrial complex on their land, the cry of the still oppressed American indigenous peoples, the struggle of the Garinagu people of Central America for their rights to their lands and culture, and the resistance of the Gulah people of the United States in preserving their African culture from being wiped out by assimilation.
When the struggle of a people, no matter how insignificant it might appear to be in the sight of the international mass media, is ignored, it is the unity of the peoples of the earth in solidarity with each other like that on Sunday May 29, 2016, that carried a resounding call to the powers at be around the world, to cease and desist from all forms of aggression, oppression, occupation, annexation, colonization, violence, genocide, and repression against the weak. It is the most powerful non-violent weaponry that was taught to the oppressed through the master teacher, the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King and his means of non-violent co-existence.
As the Belizean revolutionary, Ambassador Adalbert Tucker, had rightfully stated during his great work in Belize on behalf of the Belizean people, “This time the people will win.” And in that powerful South African slogan coined by the ANC revolutionary leader, Nelson Mandela, we say to the oppressors of the world today, “Amandla. Power to the people!”
The symposium and panel discussion were organized by the 5th. Annual Garifuna International & Indigenous Film Festival that was held from May 26, 2016 to May 31, 2016. The G.I.F.F. was organized by the Belizean Garifuna Sista, Freda Sideroff, and her husband, Dr. Stephen Sideroff, of the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA). It was moderated by Garifuna Belizean scholar, professor, Egbert Higinio, of San Jose State University.
(NOTE: A big time respect and appreciation of the photography work of Belizean filmmaker and photographer, Clyde Gillett, who took these very powerful and breathtaking pictures at the GIFF. Thanks for your great work, Clyde).