The decision to write this article was conceived in April of this year because I took umbrage to comments made by former CEO in the Ministry of National Security, Lt. Col. (retired) George Lovell, which bother me to this day. George Lovell said to a Channel 7 reporter on April 7 while discussing information leaked by a “whistleblower” that the Guatemalan Armed Forces (GAF) were behaving aggressively towards our Belize Defense Force (BDF) on the Sarstoon River continuously for more than 10 years. Lovell said that those responsible for the leak should be sought out and punished (i.e. taken to court).
As a young man I learned from the late Hon. Philip S.W. Goldson that a journalist should never under any circumstances divulge confidential sources of information given to him. Mr. Goldson proved this when information was leaked to him in 1959 regarding the Hilary Blood Report 8 days before the government got it. Sir Hilary Blood, former governor of Mauritus, an expert in Constitutions was appointed as Constitutional Commissioner of British Honduras by the Secretary of State for the Colonies, Alan Lenox Boyd. Sir Hilary’s appointment was made in answer to complaints made by the National Independence Party (NIP), led by Herbert Fuller, and the Christian Democratic Party (CDP), led by Nicholas Pollard, Sr. Their complaint was that the existing 1945 Constitution should be updated to give local officials more control of the country’s affairs.
Sir Hilary was appointed on July 7, came to Belize on September 1, toured the country and compiled his report in early October which was labeled “top secret.” The Belize Billboard of October 15, however, headlined his recommendations. Philip Goldson, as editor, was ordered to appear in court to answer charges of publishing a government secret document.
The Supreme Court case lasted about 3 months. Police Commissioner, Bruce Taylor, was ordered to gather the evidence regarding the leak; at least a dozen people were called in to be cross-examined. Goldson was defended by attorney-at-law, E. W. Francis. Horace Young was the Crown Counsel and the Prosecutor was Mr. D. K. McIntyre. Attorney General C. F. Henville acted as the Chief Justice because Sir Clifford de Lisle Innis, Q.C., B.L.C., BA, was out of the country. When it was Goldson’s turn to mount the witness stand he was cross-examined for several hours and offered immunity from any prosecution if he would reveal his source. He refused, and then was told that he would be asked three questions, and if he refused he would be fined $100.00 for each refusal, a princely sum at the time considering that the highest paid public servant, the Chief Justice, only made $8,000.00 per year. (The British Governor’s salary was $13,000).
The editor of The Daily Clarion, Edward Laing, Sr., organized a collection to pay Goldson’s fine. Belizeans from all over contributed from 25 cents to a couple of dollars; The Daily Clarion collected $461.25.
Belizeans should know the British kept excellent records on Belize. Our recorded statistics go back to 1766 that is ten years before there was a United States of America.
I consider myself as one of Goldson’s confidants in succeeding years, sharing many secrets. He never told me who leaked the Blood Report to him, and I did not ask. He took this secret to his grave. Where would we be today if Goldson did not leak the 13 Webster Proposals?
Journalists from all over praised Goldson. One likened his case to that of a reporter for the New York Herald-Tribune (Marie Torre), who was jailed for 10 days in 1959 when she refused to name the source of a disparaging information against Judy Garland. We all know about Daniel Ellsberg, who in 1971 leaked The Pentagon Papers about the Vietnam War to the New York Times.
My lesson learned
After Goldson was allowed to read (not to make notes) the draft of Webster’s Proposals in London in June of 1966, he asked us in New York to call an emergency meeting of all Belizeans living in the Tri-State area. That meeting was held in Harlem, New York (123rd St.) on Sunday, June 12th, 1966. The next day, the 13th, he held a meeting in Belize City at the Liberty Hall. Weeks of unrest followed.
The U.S. Consulate on Gabourel Lane dispatched a highly classified cable to the State Department Headquarters in Washington, D.C. I obtained my copy soon after it was received from my source, my “Deep Throat”, if you will. I passed this information to a few of my colleagues on Fleet Street, London. Some would not use it unless I revealed my source. The Price government was upset because of the last two paragraphs I am attaching. The U.S. Consulate, of course, denied that the report came from them.
Part of the classified cable
Opposition to Agreement on Independence for British Honduras
Opposition leader Philip Goldson’s premature disclosure of the agreement being negotiated between the United Kingdom and Guatemala over Independence for British Honduras (Belize) – to which Guatemala has long asserted a claim – has raised popular feeling to a high pitch.
Popular demonstrations have been going on for a couple of weeks and are becoming more violent. On the evening of 27 June a mob attempted to set fire to the Guatemalan Consulate and the Counsel’s car. Radio Belize – the country’s only radio station – was also stormed. The mob, which also damaged the automobiles of government officials and legislators, was finally routed by police using tear gas.
The agreement itself is not unfavorable to Belize, but Goldson and the opposition appear determined to sabotage it to prevent Price from being credited with achieving the country’s independence. Price, on the other hand, has been put on the defensive and appears to be losing some support even in his own party.
The Guatemalan Government has protested the incident of 27 June and has demanded that the United Kingdom guarantee the consulate’s safety. It has stated that in the absence of such a guarantee it might be unable to continue with the mediation and would be forced to take measures itself to protect the consulate.
Again, in January 1978 when I got the information that Premier George Price when on his way to London through Jamaica, he was “requested” to double back to Miami to meet the U.S. State Department’s best black diplomat for Inter-American Affairs, Terrence A. Todman. The topic was the cession of Belizean territory from the Moho River to the Sarstoon, plus a “gift” of £50 million. When I gave the story to the Manchester Guardian they checked it and did not bother to ask my source. Their headline story for January 25 1978 gave the details.
When I visited East Berlin, during the time it was under control of the Soviet Union, I found out that the KGH had compiled a complete list of all CIA agents worldwide, including Belize, where the U.S. Consul was also the Station Chief. This knowledge led me to write some years ago that if the CIA and M16 had allowed the head of the “Watergate Plumbers,” Frank Sturgis aka Frank Fiorini, one of the world’s most notorious soldiers of fortune, to remain in Belize City jail “back-a-Baptist” for illegal entry in Belizean territory in October of 1958, he would not have been available to lead the break-in of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) in Washington, D.C. on Saturday, June 17 1972, when the black security guard, Frank Willis, discovered that many door locks were disabled using duct tape, then President Richard Nixon may have been able to finish his term in office.
Sturgis had commandeered a vessel called the Amigo out of the Mexican port of Progresso to make a secret trip to Cuba. The captain, unfamiliar with the area, ran aground on Turneffe Caye damaging the vessel so they had to limp into Belize City harbor where British soldiers seized arms, ammunition and propaganda literature. All 12 occupants of the vessel were jailed. Sturgis told the Miami Herald that he was locked up in a cell 11 ft. x 4½ ft. in a 156 year old jail, fed fish head, chicken neck and rice, causing him to lose 20 pounds.