Publisher — 28 February 2014 — by Evan X Hyde
From The Publisher

“In the middle 1970s, Sedi (Elrington) became law partners with B. Q. Pitts, and my personal belief is that they were friendly with then Deputy Premier, the late C. L. B. Rogers. I saw the Pitts & Elrington law firm get cases that would have been exclusively Joe Grey’s, so my conclusion was that Rogers was ‘throwing bones’ to P&E. Yet, when Rogers fell to the UDP’s Curl Thompson in 1979, political insiders knew that Wilfred had been a major force in Curl’s campaign. Was there a quarrel between Rogers and Sedi? Or was Rogers’ friendship with Pitts instead of Elrington?”

– excerpted from FROM THE PUBLISHER in Amandala no. 1795, of Sunday, August 31, 2003

There are some UDP people who said and still say that it was necessary for those who were opposed to Hon. George Price and the People’s United Party (PUP) to replace Hon. Philip Goldson as the Leader of the Opposition because the PUP would have remained in power forever if Mr. Goldson had not been removed as Opposition Leader.

Then, there were people inside the PUP itself who were saying that it was important that Mr. Goldson win his Albert constituency seat so that the appearance of democracy remained in the Belize House of Representatives. For those of you who don’t know, the PUP won all 18 seats in the House in 1961; they won 16 out of 18 in 1965; and they won 17 out of 18 in 1969. Mr. Goldson was one of two Opposition National Independence Party (NIP) members in the 1965 House, and he was the only Opposition member in the 1969 House. (The party which contested the 1969 election was a coalition between the NIP and a party called the People’s Development Movement {PDM}. The coalition was known as the NIPDM.)

I believe that at the time I left Belize for college in the U.S. in 1965, Mr. Dean Lindo, who was the PDM Leader in 1969, had a law partner by the name of Joseph Grey. At some point before the 1969 general election, Mr. Grey left Mr. Lindo’s law firm to set up his own law practice. He almost immediately became the PUP standard bearer in Mr. Goldson’s Albert division. After he lost, quite predictably, Mr. Grey, not so predictably, was appointed a “Minister without Portfolio” in the 1969 PUP Cabinet. He ran against Mr. Goldson again in 1974, lost again, and was again appointed the Minister without Portfolio, in the 1974 PUP Cabinet.

Dr. Leroy Taegar had returned to Belize, around 1971 or so, from his many years of university study and medical school in Milwaukee, Chicago, Jamaica, and Trinidad. Following the 1974 general election, he apparently began to prepare a challenge to Mr. Grey for the post of PUP Albert chairman and standard bearer.

The late Joseph Grey was a cool guy. In the streets, it was said that he smoked reefer. I suppose it will remain a mystery of Belize politics exactly what were the terms of reference which were involved in his betraying Dean Lindo, one would have to say, and cutting a deal with the ruling PUP.

In the 1960s, lawyers did not dominate Belizean politics the way they do today. When Sir Woolrich Harrison Courtenay, the patriarch of the prestigious W. H. Courtenay & Co. law firm, became the first Speaker of the Belize House of Representatives in 1961, this confirmed a political relationship with the PUP Leader, Hon. George Price, which may have begun when W. H. defended Mr. Price at his sedition trial in 1958. Remember now, Mr. Courtenay had been a Leader of the anti-PUP National Party in the early and middle 1950s. He had actually been a target of PUP violence in those days.

Once you subtracted the Goldson seat, there were only two Southside Belize City seats for the PUP before the House seats were increased in 1984. These were Mesopotamia and Collet. Even as Mark Espat proved in 1998 that Albert was not a UDP seat, Curl Thompson proved in 1979 that Mesopotamia was not a PUP seat. But Lindy Rogers had won Mesop for the PUP in every general election from 1961 to 1974. Mr. Goldson made Albert a UDP seat: Lindy Rogers made Mesopotamia a PUP seat. These were two extraordinary Southside politicians.

Mr. Rogers’ performance as Labor Minister in the 1961 to 1965 PUP Cabinet had marked him as a rising star in the PUP galaxy. It was known at the time that the late Albert Cattouse, the PUP area representative for the Collet constituency, was Mr. Price’s Deputy Leader, but sometime between the 1965 and the 1969 general elections, C. L. B. Rogers became the PUP Southside powerhouse, and he was growing from strength to strength.

Mr. Rogers was a man of the Belize City streets. His was a spectacular story of survival and success. He was roots. W. H. Courtenay was Belize City aristocracy. The two men did not get along. Thing is, Mr. Courtenay was the only lawyer in the PUP constellation. I think Mr. Rogers needed his own attorney to neutralize the old man Courtenay, in addition to taking care of his own business. Enter, Mr. Grey? Joseph Grey played a special, unique, secretive role in the PUP leadership. Remember also, at some point between 1965 and 1969 it was decided that W. H. Courtenay’s son, Vernon Harrison, another attorney, would replace Mr. Cattouse as the PUP’s Collet candidate for the 1969 general election. V. H. was more reason for Lindy to need Grey.

The fact of the matter was that, when Leroy Taegar began his bid for the PUP Albert chairmanship, the PUP in that division was poorly organized and PUP members and supporters were demoralized. I found that out first-hand in the Belize City Council campaign of late 1977. Pressured by PUP leadership to become one of their CitCo candidates, I had asked to work in Albert instead of in Collet, where I had been the only UBAD candidate in the October 1974 general election.

Dr. Taegar, we would have had to presume at the time, had a fertile field to plow in the PUP’s fallow Albert. Taegar’s PUP credentials were impeccable. He had been a PUP believer from his teenaged days in the 1950s. His father had been a waterfront worker. Taegar’s roots were roots, and, on top of that, his academic career had been a brilliant one. All things being equal, Leroy should have beaten Grey in that 1976 convention.

But all things were not equal. Joseph Grey was a part of the PUP status quo at the top, and the word went out along the PUP grapevine that the leadership was backing Grey’s hand. I believe that.

Perhaps as a consolation, the PUP made Taegar one of their candidates in the aforementioned December 1977 Belize City Council election. Leroy urged me to run. I think he felt that my political reputation would be salvaged. His intentions toward me were genuine.

After more than twenty years in power, the PUP Leroy tried to become a leadership part of in 1976 was not the pristine PUP he had loved as a St. John’s College teenager in the mid-1950s. The dream was fading; some reality had set in.

The only two leadership people functional from that PUP era are Don Hector Silva and Mr. Fred Hunter. But, Don Hector was forced out before the 1974 general election. Plus, it is difficult to see the changes when you are inside of the organism itself. In any case, I will listen attentively to anything these two gentlemen may have to say. They were there when stuff was going down, as it is said.

Power to the people.

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