In our mid-week editorial, I wrote of the “collapse of the Creoles.” This must seem a strange and contradictory statement to the Maya and Garinagu in the north and south of Belize, because they would look at Belize’s political landscape and see that there are seven “Creole-looking” area representatives from Belize City and they are all powerful Cabinet Ministers in the Government of Belize. In fact, the Prime Minister of Belize is a Creole.
Now, perhaps the most important aspect of Belize’s political system, the two-party parliamentary system, is that it forces Belizeans to unite across ethnic and religious lines if they want to achieve political power. The ethnic and religious composition of British Honduras was quite diverse before the nationalist movement began in the colony in 1950.
Ethnic and religious differences amongst the population of the colonized natives always make the job of the colonial master that much easier, because he exploits the fundamental differences amongst the natives in order to facilitate his rule over a territory he has essentially occupied.
It is in the nature of most human beings that they resent having to live under the rule of occupied forces, and so they are always resisting occupation in various forms. Minority elements of the said occupied peoples, for various reasons which feature self-gain, are, for their part, always collaborating with the occupiers or colonizers. When a nationalist uprising against colonialism begins in a territory, as it began in Belize in 1950, then the population is divided by political lines. There are those who are resisting, and those were the People’s United Party (PUP), and then there are those who are collaborating, and these were the National Party (NP) in 1951.
In 1950, the dramatic division in the native population of Belize was not primarily ethnic or religious: it was political. But in 1956, there was a power struggle in the nationalist PUP, and the visual leadership of the PUP changed from Creole faces to become a Mestizo one. In 1958, one of the two Creole leaders who had been overthrown in the PUP, Philip Goldson, made an alliance with the colonialist NP, resulting in the formation of the National Independence Party (NIP). An ethnic consciousness began to affect Belize’s party politics with the coming to power in the PUP of the Mestizo George Price in 1956.
By now, some of you will have become disturbed, and those of you with political agendas will begin to say that X is trying to divide the country. Now, now. In the first place, if you look at the body of my work since 1969, you will see that my overall record is that of a Belizean nationalist. Secondly, I can’t divide something which was already divided: it is the truth which makes us free. All I’m trying to do is explain how something which may look a certain way, which is to say, black, like the Government of Belize, is really not that way at all. A history goes with this.
Okay, we entered the 1960s with the PUP and the NIP. There was a changing demographic in the colony, and it went along with a changing consciousness. Check the twentieth-century stats. The 1919 rebellion of Ex-servicemen in Belize featured only black Creole leadership. But, fifteen years later, the 1934 workers’ uprising in Belize was led by a man who was part Creole, part Mestizo. Finally, the nationalist revolution of 1950 ended up being led by a Mestizo. We’re just giving you a rough guideline. Changes.
The beauty that is Belize, was that when the Opposition to the PUP, which had often, behind closed doors, touted itself in the 1960s and 1970s as “black,” finally came to power in 1984, it was led by a Mestizo. This is Belize.
What the two-party parliamentary system has ensured is that there is working cooperation, even unity, at the highest levels of the Mestizo and Creole people inside the political parties of Belize. At the roots foundations of both the Mestizo and Creole peoples, however, there is serious dissent where the status quo is concerned. We can see that with the mobilization of the Mestizo cane farmers in Corozal and Orange Walk, at the same time that the Creole base of Belize City’s Southside has disintegrated. There is a common denominator which is beginning to unify the roots ethnic groups of Belize. That common denominator is a neoliberal system which our domestic academics are afraid to analyze. Remember this, however, there is a Mestizo elite and there is a Creole elite who are enjoying the status quo neoliberal system and are happy with it. This certainly appears to be the case with the Belize Cabinet.
I have, therefore, explained to you how what appears to be a contradiction, as presented in our mid-week editorial, is not. Some Creoles are more equal than others. Some Mestizos are “not normal.” This is how things are in Belize presently. The nature of the two-party parliamentary democracy has mandated ethnic and religious unity within the two political parties, but Belize has yet to reach the highest level of nationalism, which is where we would provide equal opportunities for all our citizens.
I will admit that the desire for equal opportunities is utopian, if you make the charge. But, I insist that it is an ideal to which we should always aspire. When our Belizean people become unhappy, as they were unhappy in 2005 and as they are unhappy in 2014, the immediate danger is, yes, to the elected government, but the larger danger is to Belize’s socio-economic fabric. Belizeans no longer see any kind of automatic hope in changes from red to blue, and vice versa. Since independence in 1981, the evidence has accumulated that there is a deeper malaise here.
One aspect of that malaise is the cynical conclusion Belizeans have been forced to reach, that the majority of those who aspire for political office here are not looking to serve: they and their cronies are looking to steal. Somewhere in Belize, there must be citizens who believe in the Belizean people and in the nation of Belize. Of course there are, but our political system, as it presently exists and operates, demands a certain amount of thuggery. I assume, of course, that this is the case all over the world. So then, we Belizeans were once innocent, and now we are real. Prayers are pretty good, but muscle rules.
Power to the people.