The sense of urgency in UDP Prime Minister Dean Barrow’s voice when he spoke to the people of Belize in a Wednesday afternoon press conference had to do, we think, with his needing to assure/reassure the oligarchy of Belize that he has matters well in control on their plantation.
Formation of the umbrella group “Rod of Correction” (ROC) last week Thursday would have created unease amongst Belize’s shadowy socio-economic power structure. It would have raised concerns with respect to the Prime Minister’s street dominance. The concerns would have arisen in the ranks of those who put him in office, those who live well and are happy with the status quo. The relatively sudden arising of the Rod of Correction sounded some alarm bells; it hearkened back to the street instability which doomed the Said Musa PUP government in 2005.
The most powerful grouping within the Rod of Correction was clearly the National Trade Union Congress of Belize (NTUCB), whose president, Dylan Reneau, was chosen as the ROC’s spokesman when the new organization met the media immediately after their constituent parts had agreed to work together. Representing all the trade unions of Belize, the NTUCB theoretically has the power to shut down Belize’s economy, so that the NTUCB president is someone, even in his mere NTUCB capacity, who is not to be taken lightly.
The Opposition People’s United Party (PUP) propaganda organs have been lambasting Dylan Reneau as a stooge of the ruling UDP for months and months, years in fact. It did not seem to us at this newspaper that Reneau’s statements to the media last Thursday after the ROC’s formation, and on Saturday at the Belize Grassroots Youth Empowerment Association (BGYEA) rally, represented any kind of insurrectionary rhetoric. His statements appeared to us more factual and analytical than militant. But, if we are to judge from Prime Minister Barrow’s response at his press conference, he took Mr. Reneau’s broadcast comments as challenging and disrespectful. (From another angle, it may be that Mr. Barrow was dragging Mr. Reneau under the umbrella of Belize National Teachers Union president, Luke Palacio. We’re just saying.)
How can the same man who is considered a UDP stooge by the PUP be “rude” to the UDP Prime Minister at the same time? We would suggest to you that the reason the NTUCB president can be simultaneously criticized by both the major political parties is because his organization is independent of the Belizean oligarchy which controls both the UDP and the PUP, primarily through the mechanism of campaign financing. The unions do not serve the interests of the oligarchy: the UDP and the PUP do.
Our insight into this socio-political reality comes from many years of finding ourselves in the same position where the NTUCB president is today. Kremandala was the target of a short-lived PUP newspaper, The National Perspective, created in 2009 specifically for the purpose of attacking us. The PUP faction publishing The National Perspective was pro-oligarchy, and felt the need to protect the PUP’s policies and programs from the social justice influence of Partridge Street. There were individuals hired to attack Partridge Street in the Perspective who were thought to have some Southside Belize City influence. These included Glenn Tillett, Nuri Muhammad, and G. Michael Reid. The spurious basis of the attacks on Kremandala was that the media house had been “bought out” by Barrow government advertizing revenues. The purpose of the attacks was to ensure that PUP supporters did not listen to anything Kremandala said in the line of criticism of right wing PUP positions.
Since independence, we Belizeans have seen that nothing changes substantially in Belize’s socio-economics when the UDP replaces the PUP in office or vice versa. Such a change of governing parties has occurred five times since independence, and it has always come with great excitement in the relevant political circles. There are, at most, five thousand Belizeans who benefit immediately and substantially from a change of government. These are the leaders, their cronies, and the more connected followers of the victorious political party. But the population of Belize is in the area of 350,000. Elections in Belize are private games played by the UDP and the PUP. They have an electoral competition every five years, financed by the oligarchy, and then things return to the suffering normal for 345,000 Belizeans.
Kremandala is not a radical organization. Our parent organization was arguably otherwise. But Kremandala is merely a pluralistic media house which provides voice opportunity for columnists and commentators of various persuasions. It is only in our editorials that we sometimes speak to those issues which gave birth 45 years ago to our parent organization. These issues are those which afflict the masses of the Belizean people. It is much the same issues which affect the trade unions of Belize in their citizen reality. Year after year, election after election, nothing improves in Belize. In fact, things on the Southside of Belize City have definitely become manifestly worse since independence.
Nothing is going to change in Belize until the masses of the Belizean people become politically educated and stop selling out themselves for PUDP pittances. It is because the NTUCB has the potential to create change at the level of the Belizean masses that its leadership was singled out for personal attention by Prime Minister Barrow. Prime Minister Barrow knows well from whence the butter on his bread is derived. The masses of the Belizean people don’t carry checkbooks. You, with eyes to see …
We are not personally acquainted with Dylan Reneau. All we know is that when both the UDP and the PUP are attacking you, then you must be a friend of the people of Belize.
Power to the people.