Finally, both Villa and the leader of the strongest popular movement in southern Mexico, Emiliano Zapata, differed in significant ways from the revolutionary leaders that emerged elsewhere in the twentieth century. In contrast to such men as Lenin, Mao Tse-tung, Ho Chi Minh, Fidel Castro, all of whom were highly educated intellectuals who led well-organized political movements, both Villa and Zapata came from the lower classes of society, had little education, and organized no political parties.
– pg. xiv, THE LIFE & TIMES OF PANCHO VILLA, by Friedrich Katz, Stanford University Press, 1998
In a Wednesday morning press conference this week, Prime Minister, Rt. Hon. Dean O. Barrow, casually described the case Belize will present for International Court of Justice (ICJ) arbitration as “watertight.”
There are many Belizeans who will not be impressed with Mr. Barrow’s record of litigation predictions, for the reason that the impression he constantly gave Belizeans, prior to and during all the Ashcroft-related cases which have cost Belizeans hundreds and hundreds of millions in the last few years, was that Belize’s legal team was top notch and that we should be looking forward confidently to vindication and triumph. It always turned out to be the opposite, and so sad for Belize’s struggling treasury.
As Belize moves towards April 10, 2019, and an existential decision, we think it is desirable that Belize’s leading newspaper make sure to respect the office of the Prime Minister. About a half century ago, we saw that then Premier of Belize, Hon. George C. Price, found himself in a tricky spot vis-a-vis the Thirteen/Seventeen Proposals. As duly elected People’s United Party (PUP) Leader of the self-governing colony of British Honduras, Mr. Price was sworn to secrecy with regards to the mediation of the American attorney, Bethuel Webster, in talks between the United Kingdom and the republic of Guatemala.
The Leader of the National Independence Party (NIP), then Her Majesty’s Legal Opposition, Hon. Philip Goldson, was also so sworn, but in 1966 he broke his oath to reveal the details of the secret talks in what is known historically as the Thirteen Proposals. Mr. Price was in a very difficult situation, because he was trying to lead Belize to political independence, and the Webster mediation at that time was the equivalent of today’s ICJ referendum — touted as the only way out of the differendum.
Many Belizeans were already suspicious of Mr. Price for different reasons, and those suspicions had been masterfully planted and cultivated by the British. So that, when Bethuel Webster officially released his Seventeen Proposals in April of 1968 and essentially corroborated the substance of Goldson’s 1966 Thirteen Proposals, Mr. Price appeared to be a collaborator with and supporter of the Seventeen Proposals. With the retrospective benefit of fifty years of history, most Belizeans now understand that Mr. Price was no traitor: he was a supreme Belizean patriot.
The evidence is slowly gathering, and the pioneer in the evidence gathering, at least from the standpoint of this newspaper, has been the Amandala columnist, Clinton Canul Luna, that the Belize case for the ICJ is not “watertight”, or “ironclad,” as pro-ICJ attorneys have described it.
When confronted with uncomfortable information by the press, Mr. Barrow has developed a habit of pleading ignorance. As Belize draws closer to April 10, 2019, it will become more and more important for Rt. Hon. Barrow to have himself thoroughly informed. On the face of it, it may seem like a public relations walk in the park for the Prime Minister to say that he does not read Canul Luna. We are saying to him, categorically, that he should. We Belizeans are really tired of eggs on our faces in big cases.
It is well known in political circles that there are hundreds of Belizeans in the diaspora who religiously fly in to cast their votes for Mr. Barrow in Queen’s Square in general elections. These are people to whom Canul Luna refers as the “Baymen’s Clan.” Mr. Barrow is a 100 percent hero of the Baymen’s Clan. He is King Bayman, in fact. Mr. Barrow designs his rhetoric to please the ear of the Clan.
Clinton Canul Luna is a daring and outspoken columnist. He writes fearlessly from a broken-down abode in the bush of Finca Solana, outside of Corozal Town proper. This newspaper has given Canul Luna space for many years because we consider it absolutely critical for the Northern Districts, our Maya and Mestizo Belizeans, to have a national voice. But the citizens of Belize’s North have been traditionally reluctant to talk and write nationally. It is often that this newspaper considers Canul Luna somewhat of an ideologue, and we think he is in a minority ideologically. But, no one else is talking from the North.
Now then, Canul Luna, to repeat, is a hard critic of the Baymen’s Clan. One of the things we hate to do at this newspaper is to edit our columnists, contributors, and letter writers. We believe in popular censorship. If someone is writing foolishness on presenting spurious arguments, then we expect someone from our readership to take that foolish or spurious someone to task. Theoretically, the reading public may argue that they do not read Canul Luna, and that it is up to us at the newspaper to edit him. Okay. But in the specific and existential case of the ICJ referendum, we cannot allow the Leader of the nation to plead ignorance concerning highly relevant material which is published in black and white in the nation’s leading newspaper.
In conclusion, let’s give you a bit of Canul Luna’s curriculum vitae. In 1955, a powerful hurricane named Janet destroyed Corozal Town. Things were dread in the Luna home. Clinton Luna’s mother sent him to the famed Mexican tourist destination of Acapulco to stay with his uncle. The child was about 10 or 12 years old. He grew up in Acapulco and became a high-ranking tourism executive. At some point, Canul Luna became active in Mexico’s trade union world, which is a militant and sometimes dangerous world. He spent many years in Cancun. Luna returned to Belize in the early 1990s, and taught briefly at the Belize Technical College. Canul Luna is very well read, and a keen thinker. He is, as his readers can tell, much more comfortable in Spanish than in English. Incidentally, Canul Luna is part Creole. This is Belize.
As most of you readers know, this newspaper came out of your basic Creole background in Belize City. But, the basic Creole background of 1969 was Afro-Saxon, Anglophile, and so on, whereas this newspaper was Afro-centric. From the beginning, we felt that, moving forward, Belizeans had to put the Battle of St. George’s Caye narrative in a cold and serious perspective. The traditional Battle of St. George’s Caye narrative treats the majority of the Belizean people as extras, bit players, and embellishments for a Thomas Paslow battle scene. We felt that a strong, sovereign Belize had to include the masses of the Belizean people, our African and Maya masses, as the centerpiece of any nationalistic discourse.
We have been ignored. Belize has a Baymen’s Clan government which is saying that the arguments we inherited from “perfidious Albion” are “watertight.” Canul Luna has been disputing that for years. The challenge to the Baymen’s Clan is to take on Canul Luna and prove him wrong.
Power to the people.