There are people who pride themselves on making intelligent, logical decisions. Remember now, you can only make an intelligent, logical decision at any given time based on the data which are available to you at that given time.
Let us say that you are a slave, and you have to function with iron shackles on your feet. It may be an intelligent, logical decision for you to accept the conditions of your enslavement, such as the fact that your slavemaster is armed and powerful, and the fact that you are chained and bound. So, you choose to go on living from day to day in this wretched state of affairs. Some intelligent and logical people may actually consider you intelligent and logical.
Historically, there have been slaves who lived their entire lives as slaves, and then died in slavery without ever drinking the exciting elixir of freedom. There have also been slaves who made desperate attempts to escape their slavery or to slay their masters, and it appears that the vast majority of escape attempts and violent rebellions did not succeed. Very, very few escape attempts and violent rebellions by slaves could be described as intelligent or logical, if we are to judge historically by the percentage of success in such initiatives. But, we descendants of slaves are inspired by such examples of resistance.
The people of Belize cannot be considered to be living today as slaves, although there are surely aspects of our daily lives which are unhappy and undesirable. There was a time in the history of my generation when we knew nothing of the various rebellions of our ancestors during the time of slavery, followed by the era of colonialism, in this territory of Belize. Today, we know quite a bit more about 1773, 1820, 1894, 1919, 1934, and so on. But, rebellions are not glorified in our history books, and they are not discussed at the primary school level. As a result, since most of our Belizean children do not go beyond primary school, most Belizeans are basically ignorant about those rebellions we mentioned. In addition, they may be described as unsuccessful rebellions, in that none of them changed the status quo. (In the case of 1773, mind you, 19 out of 50 insurgent slaves escaped across the northern border into the Mexican territory, while in 1919, Belizean soldiers who had served in the British war effort overseas in World War I, took over Belize Town for two days.)
In 1950, a rebellion began in British Honduras against the colonial rule of the British in the Belize settlement. After fourteen years of struggle, Belizeans achieved the constitutional status of a self-governing colony, and after seventeen more years of struggle, Belize became in independent nation-state recognized by the United Nations and accepted therein.
There were elements of the Belizean population in 1950 who did not consider the anti-colonial rebellion of our people to be intelligent and logical. These pro-British elements, therefore, opposed the anti-colonial rebellion. Their reasoning was no doubt influenced by the fact that Great Britain had just won World War II five years before, and the people of Belize could in no way be rated “worthy opponents” of the British.
Before we proceed, let us go back to the month of June in the year 1797. At that time, which was two years after my great great great grandfather on my father’s side was born the son of a white Scotsman and a “free colored” woman, 65 of the slavemasters in the Belize settlement voted to defend Belize against an anticipated invasion of the imperial Spanish from the Mexican territory. That decision to defend came to be considered as “glorious” by succeeding generations. In June of 1797, however, 51 of the slavemasters voted against the majority decision: they did not believe the decision to defend to be intelligent and logical in nature.
So then, we come to 2016. We have been listening to the voices of the intelligent and logical here describe attempts by some brave, patriotic Belizeans to visit and clear our border markers as “misguided.” It is the intelligent and logical in Belize who have been elected to power and presently rule as our political leaders and decision makers. As a purely academic exercise, we should perhaps ask this question: which of these luminaries, do you think, would have voted to abandon and run in 1797 and which would have voted to stand and defend?
Belize, it must be said, is a small country, and there is a much larger and much more powerful country west and south of us which has laid claim to our Jewel. In 1950, when Belizeans began our anti-colonial rebellion, the Guatemalan claim was very much in place. Belize, however, went on to make the substantive constitutional advances in 1964 and 1981 to which we have previously referred.
In 1968, Bethuel Webster, a U.S. mediator appointed with the consent of both Great Britain and Guatemala, made Seventeen Proposals for an end to the Guatemalan claim which were violently rejected by the Belizean people. Those proposals amounted to having Belize become a satellite state of Guatemala. It is important to remember that Webster’s Proposals of 1968 were supposed to, at that time, set the stage for Belize’s early independence. When Belize finally managed to achieve independence in 1981, it was without the implementation of Webster’s Proposals. In retrospect, that independence, delayed as it was, constituted a glorious victory for the Belizean people.
Today, it appears that there is a concerted attempt to roll back that victory of 1981 which declared Belize independent and sovereign with all our territory intact. During the present crisis, Belize’s political leaders have been making decisions which have so far apparently been accepted as intelligent and logical by the Belizean people. The data and realities on the ground have continued to change, however, and what was intelligent and logical yesterday may not be intelligent and logical tomorrow.
I am minded, you know, of 1802, when Napoleon Bonaparte sent his brother-in-law from France with an army to Haiti with the mission of returning the Haitian people to slavery. There was a brilliant, magnificent Haitian leader in place, Toussaint L’Ouverture, but he hesitated, perhaps in the service of intelligence and logic. The Haitian people, in desperation, turned to the one Dessalines. Dessalines has never been described as intelligent and logical. That is how it was written. That is how it was done.
Power to the people. Remember Danny Conorquie. Honor Staff Sgt. Richard Lambey. Big up, Wil Maheia! Salute SATIIM.