The September celebrations have represented a kind of mating season for younger Belizeans since the era of public contests and public concerts began in the early 1960s at the Memorial Park. Today, the September celebrations last more than twice as long as they used to do. They used to go from the beginning of September until the Tenth of September.
The private sector benefited in the old days, but the financing of the events came from public funds. Today the calendar events cover the first three weeks of September, but other related activities, such as those involving Carnival preparations, begin from the middle of August. The September celebrations are still largely supported by public funds, but there are now several major private sector events, and off the top of my head I can think of the Belikin Bash, Expo, Soundfest, and the various music concerts.
Today’s September celebrations involve huge business activity for the hotels, the casinos, the nightclubs, the restaurants, the taxis, the water taxis, the boutiques, the beauty salons, the hairdressers, the merchants, and right on down the line. All this business activity would peak on the weekend of Friday the 19th, Saturday the 20th, and Sunday the 21st this year. As a partial result of all the private sector investments involved in the Independence weekend, there was a bit of panic when crazy Belize City murder violence broke out on Wednesday the 17th in the afternoon and night. Big pressure immediately came on the Government of Belize and its security forces to clamp down on the relevant gang elements, which was done. The party went on.
I want to consider the sexual aspect of the celebrations, which came in for some attention on Friday the 19th when the Roman Catholic Bishop, the Most Reverend Dorick Wright, publicized his opposition to the contract between promoters for the controversial Jamaican artist, Alkaline, and the board of the Roman Catholic high school in San Ignacio, which was making its grounds available for the Alkaline concert on Saturday night, for pay. The Bishop had reason to believe that Alkaline’s concerts were lewd, obscene, and even satanic.
I didn’t know anything about Alkaline before last weekend’s controversy. I then inquired from someone younger than I about the matter. But in the back of my head I was asking myself, what can be worse in Alkaline concerts than what I saw in Carnival just the weekend before? Of course, Carnival was not taking place on Roman Catholic Church property, but the streets of Belize City are Catholic territory, so to speak, and several Belize television channels made that Carnival behavior available for home viewing. Can you say children and babies?
Every day you can hear Belizeans in high places bragging about what a Christian nation Belize is. Where does “Christian” end and “satanic” begin? Perhaps more to the point, why has this Christian nation’s efforts to fight AIDS been so weak compared to the anti-AIDS measures in communist Cuba?
The first recorded AIDS case in Belize was in 1987. This was a disease which had been originally identified amongst the New York City and San Francisco gay communities a few years before. AIDS was identified when a phenomenon called “blood banks” still existed, a phenomenon which involved greedy regional capitalists buying blood from poor people for purposes of profit. Do you remember that? There was an attempt to blame Haiti for AIDS, then there was an attempt to blame African chimpanzees for it. The thing is, there was no cure for AIDS. If it originated naturally, why was the virus so resistant to all known medication? AIDS appeared to skeptical people like myself to be a “designer” disease, as we would say.
In any case, the Fidel Castro government of Cuba immediately identified the grave danger the AIDS virus presented, AIDS probably having entered Cuba around the same time it was entering Belize. Cuba’s fight against AIDS may be considered draconian in nature, because it included quarantine. But, compared to the Belizean fight, Cuba’s anti-AIDS campaign has been a spectacular success. AIDS has devastated Belize, killing several thousands and wrecking many, many families. In this matter of AIDS, Belize would definitely have been better off being like communist Cuba rather than like Christian Belize.
The Church fought against the use of condoms to fight AIDS, at one point arguing that condom use encouraged promiscuity. The Church is not responsible for the spread of AIDS in Belize: promiscuity and reckless sex behavior are responsible. But there is so much in avowedly Christian Belize which encourages, even glorifies, promiscuity and reckless sex behavior. It appears to me that Carnival is one of the September activities which so encourages. But Christian Belize almost never has a negative word to say about Carnival.
It is the churches which are the guardians of public morals in Christian Belize. The fact of the matter is that there are politicians amongst the clergy of Belize. By this I mean that the clergy sometimes play games of a political nature with the power structure in Belize. The young people of Belize, according to my sources, are big Alkaline fans. These same young people have been experiencing the hypocrisy of the power structure and, by extension, of the clergy who play games with that power structure. Young people despise hypocrisy: they condemn what is not real, what the streets describe as “bogus.” I think the establishment Church in Belize has lost contact with the young people. The Church has to go to the streets.