BELIZE CITY, Tuesday, August 25 (1981)
Word was received here this morning of the kidnapping and shooting death of Belizean-born Gerald Cattouse in Guatemala City.
Gerald Cattouse, eldest son of the late Hon. Albert Cattouse and Mrs. Cattouse, had lived in Guatemala for the last thirty years and owned a very lucrative tourist business – Jerry’s Tours – which catered mostly to Americans. His business reportedly had branches in many towns and Cattouse was a wealthy man.
He disappeared on Friday night after work, and it was on Saturday that one of his former secretaries picked out and identified his face from among 70 bodies at the Guatemala City morgue awaiting burial. There were 9 bullets in his body.
( – headline story in AMANDALA No. 630, Tuesday, August 25, 1981)
Almost suddenly, we Belizeans are entering a phase of our political history which looks as if it will be stormy. By comparison with larger, traditionally more violent societies, our Belizean storms have not caused many casualties. But, our storms have been dramatic, even traumatic.
When the upheavals connected with Bethuel Webster’s Seventeen Proposals took place in Belize in early 1968, I was in the last couple months of my university degree studies in a place called Hanover, New Hampshire in the United States. I really wanted to come back home then, but I was sensible enough to suspect that the power structure in Belize might put me in the insane asylum if I did that. So, I held on and graduated in June of ’68.
I returned home within a week after that, and was surprised at the relative calm which had returned to the streets of Belize City. I had thought that the society was in some kind of pre-revolutionary mode, but, not really and not quite.
At that time, the undisputed hero of Southside young people was Mr. Philip Goldson, but this statement requires analysis and explanation. In 1968, the dichotomy between the Northside and the Southside in the capital city had not become evident the way it has become evident in the last two decades. In fact, Mr. Goldson’s home, newspaper offices, and printing press were situated on the Northside, almost directly across from the old Liberty Hall on what we called Barracks Road.
I am using the phrase “Southside young people,” then, in a third millennium sense, because in those days we only used “Northside” and “Southside” to describe the sports selections for all-star games in football, basketball and cricket.
In addition, the class differences among young people here, were not so clear or so serious. Those of us who were fortunate enough to attend high school did not feel that we were better than those of our contemporaries who became apprentices to mechanics, tailors, bankers, contractors, carpenters, fishermen, and so on. I would dare to suggest that a big reason for this was because sports were very big in Belize, for sure in the Hyde home, and academics did not make you superior to someone who could beat you up in a boxing ring, bowl out your stumps in cricket, or dance rings around you on the football field.
Still, there was a socio-political divide between young people from NIP families and those from PUP families. All these families were black (or brown, if you prefer) in the capital city in 1968, especially so on the Southside, but NIP families were generally civil service and middle class, while PUP families were roots and working class.
It is now evident that Mr. Goldson’s appeal cut across party lines in his Albert constituency. The fact of the matter was that he had been a high-ranking PUP leader from 1950 to 1956, and had “made his bones” by serving nine months in jail on a British sedition charge. But, in the absence of the relevant biographical research, one has to assume that young people from Southside PUP families would have been less likely to take to the streets to support him in 1966 (Thirteen Proposals) and 1968 (Seventeen Proposals), than their peers from NIP families.
Much of the previous discourse has been by way of elaborating on the description of Mr. Goldson as a hero of “Southside young people.” I would say that Mr. George Price was not a hero of Southside young people in 1968, because there were street questions about his lifestyle and because his position on the Guatemala claim sounded ambiguous.
After Mr. Leigh Richardson and Mr. Goldson were forced out of the PUP in 1956, the PUP leader who emerged as the powerhouse on the Southside was Mr. Albert Cattouse, Sr., a former public officer who was involved with the Galaxy lottery syndicate. Around 1959, Mr. C. L. B. Rogers resigned from the NIP and moved over to the PUP, and, by 1968, he had become the PUP leader who ran the Southside. But, in the early and middle 1960s, Mr. Cattouse, about whom younger generations of Belizeans know absolutely nothing, was the Big Man on the PUP Southside. This is an interesting and significant subject. I don’t see how you can write a biography of Mr. Price without discussing Mr. Cattouse in detail. But, this is Belize. Stranger things have happened here.
Mr. Cattouse, who had been a cricket legend, was married to a lady from the high-ranking Fairweather family, who were considered anti-PUP. One of their daughters, Nadia, a beauty who was becoming an acclaimed singer and actress in London, also became de facto leader of the important anti-Guatemala lobby in the English capital city. There was a sensational story making the rounds back then in the ‘60s that Nadia had gotten into an argument with her father on a visit home from London. The argument was, it seemed natural enough at the time, about the Guatemala issue. The street talk was that the old man, who had a famous temper, had pushed Nadia down some steps and injured her. This was hot on the grapevine in my youth.
Meanwhile, one of Mr. Cattouse’s sons, Gerald, had become settled in Guatemala City, where he became owner of a successful tourist business and prominent in that city’s social and business circles. Gerald Cattouse was murdered in Guatemala City in the early 1980s. Back then, we didn’t have much of a media in Belize, so there is absolutely no record of anybody here ever interviewing Gerald Cattouse or finding out anything about his comings and goings.
Anyway, I became somewhat distracted in this column. Where I wanted to go was towards discussing the fact that big people with big money want to get the Guatemala claim to Belize settled. On this side of the border, we had the faith that they could never buy out Mr. Goldson, no matter what. During the stormy times, that faith always gave us comfort.
Today, we don’t have Mr. Goldson with us anymore. And the people doing the talking, Jack, to paraphrase the late U.S. Senator Lloyd Bentsen, they no Philip Goldson. So that, even though we are now an independent Belize with our territory “intact,” someone changed our border to an “adjacency zone” some years back. After that, another one said that the border was “artificial.” We don’t trust these guys. They no Philip Goldson.
Power to the people.