Editorial — 25 October 2017
Poverty alleviation or gentrification?

After the results were made known, Mena took to Facebook, where he posted, “It’s a shame … you have to use money to buy my people. Sad that they don’t know how you only care for your agenda and your racist needs. That’s politics.”
Mena added, “Create your accounts and attack. With time, my people will know that you don’t really give a f**k. I will continue to defend them even though you think we all have a price.”
Mena went on to comment on social media, “Kick me out if you want … it’s your party, not mine.”
– from the headline story, by Micah Goodin, in the Friday, October 20, 2017 issue of AMANDALA

Every now and then, we have to remind our readers, in fact we have to enlighten the younger ones actually, how this Kremandala institution came to be, with the newspaper Amandala in the first instance in August of 1969. The reason we have to rehash the history is so that our readers, at home and abroad, can understand why we take the positions that we do. We take the positions that we do because we owe a debt of gratitude to roots Belizeans from 48 years ago who enabled the establishment of this institution and then defended us in the streets.

Older Belizeans who are hard core supporters of the People’s United Party (PUP) and the United Democratic Party (UDP) never want to be reminded of the Kremandala history. In the case of PUP aficionados, they do not want to be reminded that the founders of this newspaper were leaders of an organization which defeated the previously undefeated PUP in the streets of Belize City in 1972. And, in the case of the UDP traditionalists, they don’t want to hear anything about the aforesaid organization — the United Black Association for Development (UBAD), because UBAD was founded four and a half years before the UDP was born in September of 1973, and because the record shows that it was to UBAD that the Hon. Philip Goldson, the national hero, turned in late 1971 when he felt surrounded and threatened by those who would establish the UDP two years later and remove him from Opposition leadership.

A few days ago, the Hon. Frank “Pawpa” Mena, the UDP area representative for Dangriga and a Cabinet Minister of the Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow’s government, experienced something in the workings of his party which had to do with a convention to choose UDP Dangriga candidates for next March’s national municipal elections. Pawpa Mena went “ballistic” on social media, as the young people would say. There have been public criticisms of the UDP by high ranking insiders before, but the previous incidents were at the Belize City Council level, and featured people like Mark King and Zenaida Moya. Mr. Mena, on the other hand, is a Cabinet Minister. This is unprecedented, and it is sensational.

This editorial is not, strictly speaking, about the Minister Mena outburst. What provoked Pawpa Mena, however, reminds us of incidents between May of 1969 and September of 1973, incidents which, in retrospect, indicate that there was a determined plan, at high levels, to remove Mr. Goldson from the leadership of the Opposition National Independence Party (NIP) in the May 1969 instance, and then to undermine him and his policies and philosophies over a period of four years until the UDP could absorb the NIP and replace Mr. Goldson as Opposition Leader

In its heyday between early 1969 and early 1973, the UBAD organization was so powerful and credible where the youth of Belize City were concerned, that the black-on-black type of violence amongst Belize City youth which has been the order of the day here for more than a quarter century, was unheard of in the days of UBAD.

The questions of what UBAD stood for, and why it was to UBAD that Mr. Goldson turned in late 1971, are not questions, properly speaking, for this newspaper to answer. Let impartial analysts and commentators study the history and give an opinion. After the era of UBAD, which founded this newspaper in August of 1969, some terrible developments took place on the Southside of Belize City, mainly after political independence, which led to the bloody civil war which has been raging here since the late 1980s/early 1990s.

When the UDP was founded in 1973, the process leading to that foundation divided the ten-member UBAD executive leadership right down the middle. In other words, there were UBAD officers who felt comfortable with whatever it was they understood the UDP’s programs and policies to be. There were other UBAD officers, led by the present publisher of this newspaper, who rejected UDP programs and policies.

It is those UDP programs and policies which have been running the nation of Belize since February of 2008. Those UDP programs and policies have failed the Southside of Belize City, which is this nation’s most densely populated area, and it is for that reason that we ask the question: poverty alleviation or gentrification?

The UDP has been borrowing and spending hundreds of millions of dollars in the name of poverty alleviation over the last few years, and the UDP has invested these hundreds of millions of dollars in infrastructural projects. There is no evidence to show that the people of the Southside, and the young people most significantly, have benefited from substantive poverty alleviation. When you improve and beautify urban areas, but these improvements and beautifications do not contribute to better lives for the poor, it is what the social scientists call “gentrification.” (Exhibit A – the infrastructural work between Lakeview and Sibun Streets in the Pickstock constituency.) It is not poverty alleviation, because the ultimate intention of the projects is to invite in the real estate sharks and immigrant business investors.

In the wake of UBAD’s division and destruction between 1973 and 1974, the anti-UDP faction drifted into an alliance with the ruling PUP in 1975. In December of 1977, the publisher of this newspaper dedicated this newspaper to job creation as our way of assisting the Belizeans who had enabled our birth and defended our existence. Kremandala stands for something on the Southside, and that something is good.

About ten years ago, we watched the gradual destruction of the MCC Grounds with unbelieving eyes. That absolutely could not be happening, not under Barrow and Finnegan, but it did happen. A few months ago, we watched the dismantling of the gang interventions, led by Chester Williams, Diane Finnegan, and Nuri Muhammad, with unbelieving eyes. This absolutely could not be happening, not under the pious Sedi, but there it was, for all of us to see. Now, the evidence has become incontrovertible that murderous mayhem has returned to the Southside. And Minister Sedi is defending the new, non-gang interventionist regime? Boy, oh boy.

Mr. Dean Barrow and Mr. Wilfred Elrington were never members or supporters of UBAD. Mr. Michael Finnegan was a UBAD member, but he chose the UDP route in 1973. Mr. Barrow, Mr. Elrington and Mr. Finnegan, in pursuance of the programs and policies of the UDP, have gone on to political glory since 1984. The question is, how has their political glory benefited the Southside? Is this poverty alleviation or gentrification? You tell me.

Power to the people.

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Eden Cruz

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