“In this paper, I will try to interpret the historical events of 1798 from a black man’s standpoint. I would hope that the black, brown, red and yellow people of our society would begin to realize that white racism and exploitation constitute our common enemy and that our independence is yet to be won. It will be won by any means necessary once all of us get together on the basis of Liberty or Death.”
– from Knocking our own ting, Evan X Hyde, Reporter Press, 1969, reprinted in X Communication, Angelus Press, 1995
A very serious incident took place at the Caracol Maya site near Belize’s border with Guatemala on Thursday, September 25, 2014, around midday. A Belizean tourism police constable, Danny Conorquie, 20, was shot dead in the presence of tourists and tour operators by individuals believed to be illegal loggers from the Guatemalan side of the Western border.
In that single, isolated incident on Thursday, Belize took more casualties than we did in eight days of what has been glorified as “The Battle of St. George’s Caye” in September of 1798. Danny Conorquie was killed in the line of duty while he was protecting the nation of Belize and Belize’s national assets from people who are most likely invaders.
There are Belizeans, and they include Wil Maheia, Rafael Manzanero, Tony Rath, and the Belizeans who work at KREM Radio and KREM Television, who have been trying to inform the rest of us that Belize is being invaded from the west and the south by Guatemalans who are damaging our national parks by cutting down trees and planting milpa crops, extracting xate leaves, hunting our animals and stealing our rare birds. The Guatemalans are also involved in illegal logging of our precious hardwoods and illegal panning for gold.
The long and short of it is that they are treating Belizean national assets on our side of the border as if they are their own. This is in line with what they are taught in Guatemalan schools. When they are accosted by Belizeans responsible for protecting our national assets, Guatemalans have been behaving in an increasingly aggressive and violent manner.
It appears to me that the circumstances of Danny Conorquie’s death qualify him to be declared a national hero of Belize. He died while defending his country in an honorable manner.
This was not the first thing to occur to our Honorable Minister of Foreign Affairs on his being asked by media representatives to comment on the matter. The important thing for him, it seemed, was to be careful and “responsible” in his statements. The Honorable Minister must have been thinking primarily of the British, the Americans, the Guatemalans, the Organization of American States (OAS), and other regional and international bodies. He was also intent on representing the Cabinet of the Government of Belize in such a manner as not to be accused of inciting the Belizean people.
You know, if you study history you will note specific occasions when the people of a certain territorial entity cease to listen to a major leader and begin to listen to someone else. There was a time in 1802 when the Haitian people stopped listening to the legendary Toussaint L’Ouverture and began listening to one Dessalines. There was a time in 1938 when the people of Great Britain stopped listening to Neville Chamberlain and began to pay heed to the thoughts and opinions of Winston Churchill.
A very serious incident took place around Thursday midday at Caracol, we repeat, and the masses of the Belizean people are no fools. They realized, once they were informed of the circumstances of Danny Conorquie’s murder, that the present terms of engagement between our Belizean selves and the Guatemalans across our immediate border have changed.
The changes in these terms of engagement have implications for our Belizean selves. This is for sure. It may be ironic that this game changing incident took place just three days after Belize’s annual three weeks’ bacchanal of supposed patriotism and flag waving came to an official end.
On the same front page of last weekend’s issue of Amandala which headlined Danny Conorquie’s sacrifice of his life for his nation, a story appears entitled, “Oil drilling begins on Maya land.” For me, the two stories are not unrelated. In my view, we cannot defend Belize without the Maya. They are the best Belizeans in the jungle. Ask Wil Maheia. When we sacrifice Maya interests, we sacrifice Belizean interests. It is true that the Maya are divided on the issue of U.S. Capital Energy. Fair enough. My point is that those of you Belizeans who spend weeks extolling the exploits of your pirate ancestors are missing the point. This is the Battle of Caracol, taking place in 2014, and we have already taken more casualties than in the one you prefer to celebrate. Get real.