Belize is a unique and beautiful country, very attractive to visitors and retirees. Our native population, however, is largely marginalized economically, and all the economic indicators have been negative for many, many months. A matter of great sociological concern, also, is a visible and increasing gap between a small class of wealthy Belizeans, many of them migrants as opposed to being born Belizeans, on the one hand, and the masses of the native poor, on the other.
In the title of this editorial, we deliberately did not use the fashionable “PUDP” to refer to Belize’s two major political parties – the ruling united Democratic Party (UDP) and the Opposition People’s United Party (PUP). We did not do so because the “PUDP” designation may be somewhat dismissive, even sarcastic, and, for the purposes of this essay at least, we want to make sure we give respect to the two national organizations which are really the repository of what we consider our constitutional, parliamentary, participatory democracy.
Genuine nationalism requires that we always cherish that which is our own – cosa nostra. Such genuine nationalism does not require that we coddle, or cover up for, our Belizean organizations and institutions, but it absolutely requires that we cherish those organizations and institutions which are our special own. The UDP and the PUP are our special own. The PUP was founded in 1950, when British Honduras was still a British colony, while the UDP was established in 1973, nine years after Belize had become a self-governing colony, but eight years before Belize would achieve the constitutional status which we describe as political independence.
The native masses of Belizeans are descended from slave and refugee ancestors. We are talking about the Creoles, the Garinagu, the Mestizos, the Mayans, and the East Indians.
The Mayans are a special category of Belizeans, because to refer to the Mayans as refugee Belizeans ignores a striking historical reality: this territory once belonged to the Mayans, before the Spanish conquistadores and British pirates came to America ((the “New World”), beginning with Christopher Columbus in 1492.
Again, before our African ancestors were captured and enslaved in West Africa, then transported in the bottoms of ships to Jamaica and Belize, they had identities as free, dignified human beings which had been developed over millennia.
When we refer to five of Belize’s ethnic groupings, then, as descended from slave and/or refugee ancestors, that would be a generalized description which does not take into detailed account the historical reality of violent white supremacy – whether that white supremacy was Spanish or British. Bottom line, that white supremacy was European.
The term “white supremacy” is not used in polite circles in Belize. The term “white supremacy” is not politically correct in Belize. You will never hear any of the UDP or PUP politicians refer publicly to “white supremacy.” We Belizeans live in a state of denial. It is a state of denial which has become chronic. A reality check would force us to confront the fact that the Europeans who enslaved and oppressed our ancestors have found creative ways to continue their post-colonial hegemony over us, even as we boast of our constitutional, parliamentary, participatory democracy.
In this hard January of 2017, there is an urgent need for Belizeans to recognize that there are limits to the UDP and the PUP where our authentic national liberation is concerned. In our view, an authentic national liberation for Belize would demand, at the very least, that illiteracy be eradicated, that there be a dramatic improvement in our national health care, that Belizean victims of chemical abuse are institutionalized and treated, that Belize’s sports programs be made democratic, based on merit, and freed of class and ethnic bias, and that political and public sector corruption should be attacked with the utmost urgency and with a judicial maul.
None of these will happen, because the politicians of the UDP and the PUP have had some traditional limits imposed upon their ability to operate and legislate. As a matter of party survival and success, the decision makers in the UDP and the PUP know and must accept, in the first instance, that Belize is a Christian nation. This is a seemingly innocuous acknowledgement, but the implications have been enormous.
What does it really mean to be a Christian? Put this another way: what does it mean to be a real Christian? Five hundred years ago, in October of 1517, a revolution occurred in European Christianity. The historians have referred to the events which followed the actions of Martin Luther, a German monk, as “The Reformation,” but in reality Martin Luther began a bloody revolution in October of 1517 which claimed many lives. (By definition, “reformation” and “revolution” are categorically opposed.) Before Martin Luther, there were no such people as Anglicans, Methodists, Baptists, Nazarenes, Seventh Day Adventists, Presbyterians, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Moravians, Quakers, Evangelicals, and so on and so forth. Before 1517, the whole of Europe was Roman Catholic. The violence of the Reformation and the so-called Counter-Reformation amongst the Europeans occurred because they began to argue and wage war about what it meant to be a follower of Jesus Christ who, if He was nobody else, was surely a man of peace. Not only that, Jesus Christ declared: “Blessed are the poor.”
Belize in 2017 boasts that we are a Christian nation, but it is for sure that the poor are not blessed here. If you took the time to analyze the Belizean situation, you would find that contradiction follows upon contradiction where the reality of supposedly Christian Belize is concerned. But, the facts are clear, in order to be a successful electoral politician in Belize, you must declare your Christian faith. The limits which confine the UDP and the PUP are imposed by Christianity in its various Belizean forms. But, if Christ were to return to earth, to Belize, today, He would be enraged by what is being done in His name.
This is the ultimate contradiction of the twenty-first century – the incontrovertible fact that organized Christianity is not Christ-like. The Christian churches are business organizations. More importantly where the subject of this essay is concerned, the Christian churches are tools used by the Europeans to place limits on post-colonial native politicians. No matter how powerful you may be in the UDP or the PUP, there are places you cannot go, so to speak. You cannot go here. You cannot go there. Eeny meeny miny mo: the suffering of the people goes on, and it is growing worse …