The Belizean people are under a great deal of pressure these days. Violent crime is at an all time high, and the police have their hands full trying to keep up with the criminals. The judiciary is very much embattled. Then, there is the matter of territorial integrity and national sovereignty. While desperate Guatemalan peasants are swarming across our borders in order to rape Belize of its gold, lumber, xate, wildlife, and other resources, the oligarchy/military which runs the Guatemalan state has laid claim to half of Belize’s land and sea, and powerful regional and international forces are calling for the claim to be treated as a legal matter in the International Court of Justice (ICJ).
There are two other fronts, religious and political, on which the people of Belize are under attack. Never before has Belize been penetrated by so many different religions, and never before have these religions been so aggressive and so much a part of everyday life, through the electronic broadcast media. The preachers, most of who come in the name of Jesus Christ, claim that the Belizean people have to turn to Jesus for a solution to our problems. But, Belize is a country dominated by Christian religions from the nineteenth century, and everything is already done in the name of God.
In electoral politics, a year ago the Opposition party came close to being elected to office. It would have been a surprise victory, and they apparently can’t get over what might have been. Whereas there is normally a calm after a general election campaign is over, the Opposition rhetoric has been shrill, and it appears that there are leaders amongst them who are operating on the belief that they can force another general election before the ruling party completes its five-year term.
The Prime Minister of Belize, for his part, went on record as early as last year to endorse Belize’s going to the ICJ for a decision on the Guatemala-Belize differendum, as the Guatemalan claim to Belize, a relic of British colonial days, is now known. Prime Minister Barrow has flown under the radar on this one, one reason for this being that he sweetened the bitter ICJ medicine by simultaneously announcing that the Belizean people would be free to make up their own minds in an October referendum.
In 1968, the Premier George Price got himself into a heap of trouble on the domestic political scene even though he had not publicly endorsed Bethuel Webster’s Seventeen Proposals. Mr. Price’s dilemma was occasioned by the fact that Opposition Leader, Philip Goldson, had been on record for two years as denouncing what had first been known as the Thirteen Proposals, Mr. Goldson’s 1966 version of what was formally released in 1968 as the Seventeen Proposals. So that, Mr. Price’s attempt to cooperate with the British and the Americans by giving the Seventeen Proposals opportunity to be aired in Belize, was interpreted as a sellout by many Belizeans.
In the ICJ matter, similarly, Prime Minister Barrow is doing the bidding of, or going along with, the British and the Americans. Because Opposition Leader Fonseca finds himself unable or unwilling to condemn the ICJ initiative, however, his party is wallowing in uncertainty. A few high ranking members of the Opposition executive have endorsed the ICJ, but a few high ranking members of the same executive have denounced same. The Opposition in 2013 is behaving differently from the Opposition between 1966 and 1968.
So, ICJ pressure is building and will continue to build in Belize. The British and the Americans will allow that pressure to continue to build on the people of Belize, because they want a settlement which will appease the Guatemalans. At the base of the Belizean socio-economic pyramid, nevertheless, there is a feeling of resentment at the claim, and a mood of defiance.
On several occasions, we have listened to Retired BDF Major Lloyd Jones discuss Belize’s present military and diplomatic situation, and we have found ourselves agreeing with everything he says. As far as we understand, Major Jones is a single Belizean citizen, albeit an exceptionally talented one. As he becomes more and more influential, it is to be expected that pressure will be brought to bear on him from different sources. Major Jones would be well advised to build an organization of some kind, and formalize his positions for presentation to Belizeans nationwide.
Across the border in Guatemala, their children are taught that Belize belongs to Guatemala and is a department thereof. On this side, Belizean children are not taught anything about the threat to our territory integrity and national sovereignty. Why is this so, and who is responsible for the inadequate education of Belizean children? What can be more important than the land and sea from which you gain your sustenance? What can be more critical than a threat to your ownership of your means of sustenance?