The British, the Americans, and the oligarchy of British Honduras were not happy with the Hon. Philip Goldson when he revealed what he remembered of the Webster Proposals in 1966 in what we Belizeans knew then as the “Thirteen Proposals.”
British Honduras had been granted internal self-government by the British at the beginning of 1964, and we were supposed to be moving right on to independence. The Guatemalan claim to Belize at the time was the “Anglo/Guatemalan Dispute,” and both the disputing parties, Britain and Guatemala, accepted the United States as the mediating party.
Washington appointed a New York City lawyer, Bethuel Webster, to draft proposals to end the dispute so that British Honduras could move on to an “early and secure” independence.
The Hon. Compton Fairweather has said that it was the great Samuel Haynes who formed the British Honduras Freedom Committee in New York City. I’m not sure if this took place at the time of the Thirteen Proposals, Goldson’s revelation of which was an event which created an absolute sensation in Belize City and among Belizeans in New York and London. Mr. Goldson had introduced me to Mr. Haynes in September of 1965 when Mr. Goldson was visiting the United Nations and held a public meeting at the Audubon Ballroom (the same hall in Manhattan where Malcolm X had been assassinated seven months earlier). At that time, Mr. Fairweather was running a radio-telephone news network for Belizeans in the United States. The network was established at his father’s home on Rutland Road in Brooklyn.
The Thirteen Proposals had been so vivid for me that I’d always assumed that I was in Belize City at the time, but I could not have been, because in 1966 I was studying at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire. The scholarship I’d won had been offered by the then U.S. Consulate in late 1964 or early 1965, and it was the first “substantial” foreign aid in education the United States had offered Belize. (No doubt at the behest of the said United States, the “summer” school holidays in Belize had been unilaterally and arbitrarily changed from April and May to July and August in the summer of 1964.)
Before this, Washington’s position had been that British Honduras was a British colony, hence not eligible for American aid the way the Central American republics, like Guatemala, were. With our gaining of self-government at the beginning of 1964 and prospects of an early independence, the Americans had begun to consider Belize in a different light. In fact, as early as late 1961 after Hurricane Hattie, the United States had opened up its immigration doors to Belizeans who had relatives in the States.
Very, very few Belizeans at the time had any idea how closely allied the governments of the United States and Guatemala had been since the American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) organized the 1954 overthrow of leftist Guatemalan president, Jacobo Arbenz, and chose his replacement, Carlos Castillo Armas. Both Arbenz and Castillo Armas had been Guatemala Army generals, as was Ydigoras Fuentes, who replaced Castillo Armas as president in 1958, after Castillo Armas’ 1957 assassination.
Ydigoras Fuentes, who had at one time been a governor of Petén, was our worst nightmare ever in British Honduras. He was the most aggressive and flamboyant Guatemalan president ever with the claim to Belize, and dramatically came across the border at Benque on one occasion, where he was turned back by one “Sergeant Neal.” It was during Ydigoras’ presidency that Guatemala’s Francisco Sagastume, later a Congressman, “invaded” British Honduras through our southern border with a group of about eight.
In all his aggressive rhetoric and behavior with respect to Guatemala’s Belize claim, Fuentes was acting with the tacit compliance of the United States. After he was replaced as president in 1963, Fuentes claimed that the John F. Kennedy American presidency had promised to support Guatemala’s claim to Belize when and because Guatemala allowed Cuban exiles to train there for the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba in April of 1961.
At the time Belizean PUP government officials were sitting in the discussions having to do with the Webster Proposals, with Mr. Goldson representing the National Independence Party (NIP) Opposition, which at the time held two seats in our 18-member House of Representatives, all the Belizeans were sworn to secrecy. Mr. Goldson rushed back to Belize and broke that secrecy. He risked jail to reveal the Thirteen Proposals to the people of Belize, because he considered the situation a national emergency.
When the Webster Proposals were officially released as the Seventeen Proposals in early 1968, they were remarkably similar to what Mr. Goldson had revealed to us in 1966 as the Thirteen Proposals. This was the first occasion on which Washington flaunted its contempt for Belizeans. Had we not been held in contempt, the fact that the Thirteen Proposals had caused uprisings in Belize City in 1966, would have convinced the Americans to adjust such proposals, or to can them. Instead, they were fed to us cold out of the Webster refrigerator: Uncle Sam was giving instructions.
A few weeks ago this newspaper felt it our duty to reproduce the Seventeen Proposals for you, because what the Americans desired for us in 1966, and what they insisted on in 1968, is what they are pushing in 2014. The evidence just keeps piling up to support such a conclusion. But Belize’s younger generations are ignorant of the Seventeen Proposals. Our schools are failing us. And there is no Philip Goldson in the Government of Belize today: there are only bourgeois opportunists.
The circumstances surrounding the construction of the Belize Coast Guard facility at Hunting Caye by a Guatemalan contractor using exclusively Guatemalan workers, calls for a commission of inquiry here. Whichever Belizean Minister is responsible for this disgrace has dishonored the legacy of the Hon. Philip Goldson. There are worse things I could say. I could say that this is tantamount to treason. But I will be content with this: by their fruits ye shall know them.
The Children of the Stars can never be dogs. Power to the people.