From time to time, you will hear us criticize the two major political parties in these pages. These are very important organizations, and they are the engines of our democracy. At this newspaper, we respect the PUP and the UDP. Because Belize does have a functional democracy, this newspaper can criticize the major political parties, and live to tell the tale. Because Belize has a flawed democracy, we simply have to criticize the PUP and the UDP. Most of the times, we will criticize a political party when that party is in power, and the issue then is usually corruption, or incompetence. Infrequently, we criticize the party which is in Opposition, and that is when they are not bringing enough heat on the government, or when they speak disrespectfully or dishonestly of us. In order for it to function properly, parliamentary democracy absolutely must have an Opposition, you know, and the stronger the better.
There has never been an Opposition party in this country with which Amandala has had as much wrangling as we have had with this Opposition PUP. This wrangling began back in 2004, when the PUP was still in power, and for us on Partridge the argument was and is about development philosophy. There are high ranking people in the PUP who believe that Belizeans are still in the 1960s mentally, when a lot of the political discourse was personal, so they have focused on the personal side of their argument with Partridge Street for the last nine years, and counting …
The PUP of 2004, and the PUP of 2013 are not the PUP of 1950. Difference would be the case under any circumstances, because time changes people, and things, and parties. But, the PUP of 1950 was a trade-union based political party, and as late as the 1970s the PUP subscribed to a development philosophy which Mr. Price referred to as the “mixed economy,” which some of his enemies began to refer to as socialist, or even communist. The PUP of 2004, and the PUP of 2013, subscribe to a development philosophy which emphasizes foreign direct investment and a neoliberal market economy.
The PUP of 2013, and the PUP of 2004, have never admitted that there has been a change in their development philosophy, or how dramatic that change has been, mostly because the enduring legend of Mr. Price is so important in their credibility scheme with roots voters. And, the fact of the matter is that Mr. Price was actually in the PUP Cabinet which began the dramatic change in development philosophy.
That change began during the 1989 to 1993 PUP administration. Mr. Price was Prime Minister/Minister of Finance, but PUP insiders knew that the real Minister of Finance, and more real with every passing day in that term, was Senator Ralph Fonseca. It was only three years after that 1989-1993 PUP term of office came to an end that Mr. Price was forced out, in 1996, as PUP Leader.
Apart from his family and his religion, the whole of Mr. Price’s life was his politics, and his politics was the PUP. During the 1960s he had been a whirling dervish as he began the drive towards self-government and independence. In the 1970s he remained a remarkable, totally-committed force, but the delay in independence began to gnaw at him, and drain him. The circumstances under which Belize gained independence in September of 1981 – circumstances of a divided populace and a state of emergency, had to trouble Mr. Price, and then his having to sacrifice his two young left-wing Ministers, Assad Shoman and Said Musa, because of political expediency in the 1983 chairmanship convention, could not have been the direction he would have preferred to go. To top it off, the PUP had been infiltrated by drug traffickers by the early 1980s. This is what the 1982 Amandala libel case was about – drug charges in a Mexican magazine. Events in early 1985, after the UDP had won power for the first time in December of 1984, proved that drug trafficker infiltration had indeed taken place.
Look, we’re not going to argue with the PUP leaders about how much they revere Mr. Price. That is a given. Our issue is development philosophy. We have made the point, and we stand by it, that both Mr. Goldson and Mr. Price, philosophically speaking, were displaced by their respective political parties. The UDP displaced Mr. Goldson in 1974, and the PUP began Mr. Price’s displacement in 1989.
With Mr. Goldson’s displacement in 1974, the UDP moved far to the right of the PUP. Today, though, the PUP is actually to the right of the UDP. “Right” in our book, means when you care about rich people more than you care about poor people. This horse-dead-and-cow-fat about helping rich people so that they in turn can help poor people, is bull. There were PUP leaders who spent three quarters of a million dollars of rich people’s money between 2009 and 2011 on a newspaper which specialized in hatchet jobs. The hatchet jobs were to distract the PUP faithful from the neoliberal development philosophy which was fighting to regain power at independence Hall.
Poor people used to own the PUP in the beginning. The issue was not about money back then. The issue was freedom and dignity. With freedom and dignity would come development, that’s how our people saw it back then. Nobody could buy Mr. Price. The faith of the people in him was unlimited. We’re saying something changed in the PUP, and from the base of the pyramid the people are calling for a return to core values. The scribes call it the foundation “PUP creed.”
Power to the people.