At what specific point Ralph Fonseca became G. Michael Reid’s employer, guru, mentor, or whatever, I can’t say for sure, except that it was probably sometime during the first Said Musa People’s United Party (PUP) government, which lasted from August of 1998 until March of 2003.
As my friends know, I have been one of G. Mike’s favorite subjects, or targets. I pay attention to him, because G. Mike is an intelligent guy who is a very talented writer. I usually restrain myself when it comes to answering him, though, one reason being that he and I are perhaps too much alike in personality, and things could get rough.
Sometimes when I see G. Mike and Marshall Nunez on the PUP television station, I am tempted to call in and initiate a discourse about semi-pro basketball. I can’t see how G. Mike would have been in the Ralph Fonseca camp in the early part of 1998, because John Saldivar, in the promotion and exaltation of the doomed Manuel Esquivel United Democratic Party (UDP) government, was selling G. Mike a dream. Reid bought the CARICOM basketball tournament hype – hook, line, and sinker. That tournament was a one-shot, desperation attempt by the UDP to save the Esquivel administration. Remember, this was the government that was so insolent, so scared of losing, they went two months over their five-year term. No party had ever done this before. And this was the government that crushed semi-pro basketball, because the Raiders were the champions and they came from Kremandala – Trenchtown.
To this day, Belizeans, there has never been a proper accounting of the crazy money spent in early 1998 by John Saldivar, as the UDP government hit man, in order to win the CARICOM basketball tournament for homestanding Belize. Under the stewardship of John Saldivar, who was at Recondev at the time, the UDP accomplished their objective, and G. Mike was totally ecstatic. Belize won CARICOM! But roots Belizean people asked themselves: so what? Esquivel and the UDP had destroyed the Raiders and destroyed local semi-pro. And Esquivel and the UDP paid the price for that in August of 1998.
During the CARICOM tournament, Reid was employed at Stewart Krohn’s television station, now known as Channel 5. Krohn and his wife, Lita Hunter Krohn, had been given a national television license in early 1991. The intrigue surrounding that license was nothing short of incredible, at least to yours truly. At the center of the intrigue was Hon. Said Musa, a powerful PUP Cabinet Minister at the time. I believe Lord Michael Ashcroft was also a significant player in that game. I think now that Dickie Bradley, then a young attorney, knew something of what was transpiring. At that time, most of Belize thought Bradley to be a total Kremandala loyalist, but he later proved himself to have much bigger bosses. On the night of Boxing Day in 1990, Dickie Bradley, the late Gerald Garbutt (then the KREM Radio station manager) and myself visited Mr. Musa’s home. Mr. Musa was entertaining Stewart and Lita that night.
The man who got screwed the worst was the late Rodolfo Silva. As soon as Krohn’s national television station came on the air a few months after that Boxing Day night of 1990 (I man had been caught completely off guard when I saw the national television license “gazetted”), Dickie Bradley, who was the superstar radio talk show host in Belize at the time, took his act over to Krohn’s Channel 5. Years later, coming to Richard’s defence, I was drawn into conflict with Jorge and Mark Espat. But that is another story, and a long one.
I wish to make this point to G. Michael Reid. There’s a lot of stuff you don’t know “diddly” about, because you were on the frolic in the big cities of America while I was paying my dues in the swamp. I’m saying to you that when you were cheerleading in the 1998 CARICOM basketball tournament, you were cheerleading for John Saldivar and Manuel Esquivel, and you probably didn’t even know. And yes, that John Saldivar is the same one who was William Danny Mason’s buddy buddy.
G. Mike, for whatever the reason(s), began to hate the Raiders with a passion after he returned home from the United States, maybe 1993? Whenever he wants to do his homework, he can begin by humbling himself and asking questions of the man who sits next to him on the PUP radio/television. Marshall Nunez is the man whom John Saldivar victimized in 1994 when Marshall should have been the head coach of the Belize national basketball selection at the CARICOM basketball tournament, held in the Bahamas that year. Again, let me repeat, this is the same John Saldivar for whom G. Mike was cheerleading in 1998.
The lasting damage caused by that 1998 CARICOM tournament (and victory) was the large scale introduction of the Belizean American players. When the PUP’s Cordel Hyde revived semi-pro basketball in 1999, Belize couldn’t keep out the Belizean Americans, because they had led Belize to CARICOM gold the year before. They were national heroes. The problem was that the recurrent expenses associated with the Belizean Americans, expenses such as airplane travel, hotels, restaurants, stipends, and so on, destroyed the tight budgetary controls with which semi-pro basketball had been operating between 1992 and 1997.
Let me ask G. Mike a question. How come the UCLA and NBA stars don’t visit Belize “no more”? It’s because they’ve already accomplished their main, globalized purpose: that purpose was to expose how primitive, by comparison to them, Belize’s semi-pro ‘ballers were. The thing is, bottom line, semi-pro basketball was creating jobs and fuelling economic activity on the depressed Southside, and indeed the whole of Belize City. But G. Mike couldn’t see further than his personal dislike for the Raiders. He missed the most important aspect of Belize semi-pro, because he got caught up in his likes and dislikes, his isms and schisms.
I’m answering you today, G. Mike, because I care for you as a Belizean. I don’t have to answer you, because I have a 47-year-old curriculum vitae in the streets of this City. Let me repeat. When you were a high roller over there, I was paying my dues back home. Don’t be dissing di Zinc. Respect di Fence.
Power to the people! Remember Danny Conorquie.