If the United Democratic Party (UDP) were a business corporation being traded on the stock market, it is clear that its stock would have soared dramatically between February of 2008 and February of 2018. The reverse would probably be the case where the nation-state of Belize is concerned: while the UDP has been flying high, the socio-economics of the Belizean nation have almost collapsed.
We think it is critical to point out that all the infrastructural activity which won the UDP the November 2015 general election, and which is continuing even as we write, is financed by loan moneys, the bulk of which has been negotiated at concessionary rates from the PetroCaribe fund sponsored by Venezuela. The first notable thing about the Barrow administration’s infrastructural activity is that there was a specific, conscious UDP decision to focus on the projects, with all the kickback and other possibilities for UDP Ministers, cronies, apparatchiks, and supporters, at the expense of investment in the development of Belize’s human resources. And the second notable thing about Mr. Barrow’s terms of office is that the said infrastructural activity was not fiscally justified by any concomitant energy or growth in the Belizean economy, which has been in a tailspin for years.
Belize is a very small place. Most of us are related, if not through actual blood, then through friendships, associations, religions, and the like. By and large, we Belizeans know each other’s business. The point is that the rest of us who are not UDP-connected have seen what we have seen, and we have seen that UDP success is in uncomfortable juxtaposition with Belizean national failures. UDP apparatchiks who were broke in February of 2008 now buy homes for their parents in Los Angeles. Ain’t that something? How do they do it?
We Belizeans understand the limits of our parliamentary democracy a lot better today than we did twenty years ago. That is because a climate of intellectual stimulation and facilitation was created by the Rt. Hon. Said Musa when he became Prime Minister in August of 1998. A group of Belize’s intellectuals and political thinkers did an amount of research into the precise nature of our governance system, and we are grateful to them. What they established, most dramatically, was that Belize’s parliamentary democracy is really, all things considered, a monarchy. The Prime Minister is like a king. Belize’s constitution is seriously flawed.
There is no serious initiative to improve or correct our constitution, however, because what democracy we have was only what we were allowed to have by the United Kingdom (our colonial masters), our domestic power structure (which includes the Christian churches), and the United States, the regional superpower. This is a constitution blessed by all the above-mentioned entities. The oppressed masses of the Belizean people have repeatedly demonstrated how docile, or let’s say peaceful, we can be. Remember now, it took the bloody Mexican Revolution of 1910 to move the constitution of our neighbours to the immediate north into constitutional improvement and correction. While Belizeans are oppressed, for sure, we have not reached the levels of desperation of the Central American masses, hence we never resort to the bullet where our politics is concerned. What we Belizeans have, is the ballot.
What we do with that ballot, when the electoral opportunities arise, is express our gut feelings and then hope for better. So this is the message we have been giving to those Belizeans who rate Kremandala: there is a need for us to express ourselves, as forcefully and as pointedly as we can, on March 7. The message we want to send is, we see what you are doing, UDP, and we don’t like it one damned bit.
You must understand then, that our personal, philosophical feelings on Partridge Street do not matter now. The question is: what is the best way to send a message on March 7, 2018? Because of 49 years of experience in public life and some electoral politics, we believe that the best way to send this message is through Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition, the People’s United Party (PUP). We do not believe at Kremandala that any effective message can be sent on March 7 through support for fringe parties. Straight like that.
It is not that we have to be right in our opinion, we know. But the fact of the matter is that when we wanted to send a message back in 1969, when the situation of our people was substantially better than it is today in 2018, we went to the streets. We marched; we demonstrated; and we fought the power. This is documented history. Within the limits of our scant resources, our fight was successful to the point where the then Loyal Opposition, the National Independence Party (NIP), enlisted our assistance in the December 1971 Belize City Council election. One of our primary reasons for agreeing to that coalition was to acquire electoral experience and education. The December 1971 experience was invaluable.
We would say that elections are won in the afternoon of Election Day. The “dibby dibby” machine will fold by 10:00 a.m., at the latest. In the afternoon, the real machines fight with each other for votes. The fight is frenzied, hectic, desperate. It is a fight which cannot be fought in the afternoon without material resources and without trained, battle-hardened personnel.
In the months leading up to the general election of November 2015, we wanted to be kind to the third party, because their leaders are our good friends. We suggested, in kindness, that they might win 6 to 8 percent of the vote. In fact, they won 2.8 percent. If we had suggested that 2.8 percentile to our good friends before November 4, 2015, they and their supporters would have felt that we had become their enemies. Not so.
It should be noted that in November of 2015, we did not give any instructions to Kremandala’s 4 percent. In fact, we did not give any instructions to Kremandala’s 4 percent in March of 2012. And, in February of 2008, no one needed to give any instructions to anybody. Ask Ralph Fonseca. But, in March of 2018, we are giving instructions to Kremandala’s 4 percent: “vote dem out!”
We are giving instructions because we do not wish for our 4 percent to be distracted or confused in any way. Elections are about numbers, and one vote can make the difference between a victorious majority and a dejected minority. On March 7, indeed, the people will have the power. They will have the power to decide, and the power to express.
In conclusion, this newspaper would like to reiterate our commitment to resistance. We resist, in the first instance, international white supremacy, as that international white supremacy continues to be manifested in our beloved Belize. That resistance has cost us dearly since 1969. During our darkest hours along the way, nevertheless, we have trusted in the will of the Belizean people to resist oppression and to struggle for liberation/upliftment. Our faith in the Belizean people has always, always been justified.
On those instances when it might have appeared that the Belizean people did not justify our faith, such as in October of 1974 and in December of 1977, it was because the Belizean people wanted to send us a disciplinary message. We accepted this message, and have trod on, into the third millennium.
Around us in this Central American and Caribbean region, we have seen Guatemala enter an even more passionate embrace with the mighty United States. We are watching the great Jamaica fall on her knees before that mighty United States. And we know now that Washington is girding its loins to launch a strike on Chavista Caracas. As we Belizeans renew our commitment to defend our independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity, we must always be on guard against those who have capitulated in the service of personal gain. Those with eyes to see, let them see.
The ruling party is bloated with greed, vanity, and arrogance. In October of 2016, our teachers sacrificed themselves to show the rest of us Belizeans the way. On March 7, much less of a sacrifice is required of us. All we have to do is walk into our polling station and mark that ballot which our ancestors have left for us as our democratic, human right and legacy.
Power to the people.