The ruling United Democratic Party (UDP) made a decision, as Belize prepared for the September 1989 general elections, that they would not advertize in Amandala, which was clearly the leading newspaper in the nation at the time. (This was before the time of KREM Radio and KREM Television.)
Just a few years earlier, I had supported Manuel Esquivel, a former St. John’s College physics teacher, for UDP leadership after the failure of their Dr. Ted Aranda leadership. I can remember being in meetings on Albert Street with Net Vasquez, Henry Young, and the late San Perdomo in the latter part of 1982 as we discussed the January 1983 UDP leadership convention to be held at Bird’s Isle.
The other two candidates for leadership were Mr. Philip Goldson, a former National Independence Party (NIP) Leader, and Mr. Dean Lindo, the first UDP Leader (1973-1979). Mr. Goldson was already almost completely blind. Mr. Lindo and I had developed serious hostility towards each other between 1973 and 1979. I felt Mr. Esquivel gave us the best chance to win. I say “us” because I was fully in support of the UDP, which helped our newspaper survive the massive Price and Sylvestre libel suits of 1982 and 1983.
After Mr. Esquivel won that leadership convention, he asked me to insert a UDP newspaper inside the weekly Amandala, which had become the leading newspaper in Belize a couple years earlier. Mr. Esquivel had to visit Partridge Street regularly to consult with our lithographer, Valerie Richardson, in the preparation of his so-called UDP BULLETIN. The job was a $600 a week job, but I charged Mr. Esquivel only $200 a week. In other words, I was a small campaign donor for the UDP in their 1983 Belize City Council campaign and their 1984 general election campaign.
After the UDP won their historic victory in December of 1984, I never heard from Mr. Esquivel again. I didn’t think much of it at the time, but I would have liked a phone call or a note to say thanks. It is possible that Mr. Esquivel expected me to visit Belmopan to congratulate him, as everybody else was doing, but I never crowd politicians after they win their big elections. Just me.
Soon after his victory, I had a problem with Mr. Esquivel when he publicly “disowned” Odinga Lumumba, who had helped me support the UDP in 1984. But, I can remember saying to myself that I was hardly in a position to fight the new Prime Minister. And indeed, I really tried my best to avoid wrangling.
Now at some point back there, Mr. Esquivel’s wife, Kathy, became the vice-principal of Wesley College, where I had enjoyed a great year teaching in 1972/72. In quick succession, around 1987/88, I had a son and a daughter experience problems at Wesley College, under two different principals. The administrative constant was Mrs. Esquivel, and so I became suspicious.
I guess the situation became serious when Rufus X decided to become the UDP candidate for Belize Rural North. This was between 1987 and 1988. In his mind, Rufus felt that he was the one who had made it possible for Samuel Rhaburn to defeat the PUP’s Fred Hunter in Rural North in the 1984 general election, and between 1987 and 1988 he decided that Sam was inadequate and that he personally would have to replace him.
Very few people know the full story of Rufus’ various contributions to the UDP from its foundation in 1973 onwards. In fact, Rufus was one of those who had committed to the UDP from the time it was the Unity Congress in early 1973. He had been one of the UBAD officers who voted for that. I have personally seen Rufus X risk life and limb daring the PUP in PUP public meetings during the 1979 general election campaign. To my mind, Rufus X’s UDP “bona fides” were gilt-edged.
But, what appeared logical to Rufus – replacing the incumbent Rhaburn, was a total no-no to the UDP leadership. I can give several reasons why the Esquivel UDP took that position, but the relationship between Rufus and myself was such that I had to support him, no matter the cost to myself.
From day to day, the Prime Minister of Belize is the most powerful native Belizean. The Governor-General is the direct representative of Her Majesty The Queen, but the Governor-General’s is a mostly ceremonial position. Along with power, comes a lot of responsibility. Power also brings the real dangers of arrogance and egotism.
With general elections just four weeks away, power, as they say, lies in the streets. It is there for someone to pick up on November 4. Between now and then, various battles will be waged all over The Jewel. The political leaders will have critical decisions to make during Belize’s parliamentary version of war. The people will be their judge.
Power to the people. Remember Danny. Fight for Belize.