It has been difficult to write this column lately, and one reason for this has been my feeling of futility in regards to the Kaina Martinez matter. It is bad enough that the young lady was denied her proper Belizean place at last month’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro: what is worse is that the substantive power brokers in Belizean sports have not felt any need to account to the people of Belize. It is clearly intended that the injustice to Kaina should blow over like Said’s “lee breeze.”
In response to some agitation, the Government of Belize decided to grant posthumous national honor earlier this month to the one Danny Conorquie, who was murdered by Guatemalans in cold blood at Caracol on September 25, 2014. It is necessary that we acknowledge the gesture on the part of the ruling United Democratic Party (UDP), as little and as late as it is. This is what, I suppose and I submit, was referred to in feudal times in Europe as noblesse oblige. The ruling classes threw a bone, a sop to Cerberus perhaps, to the masses. Whatever, it is appreciated.
Well then, what about Kaina Martinez? Is the Government of Belize, by its loud silence on the rank injustice, in effect saying to us that what happened to Kaina is of small consequence? Remember now, as in the matter of Danny, it is not as if this newspaper seeks any benefit or recompense for the Kaina torch we have carried. Principle is not something much discussed in our Belizean society any more: the mantra amongst the wealthy politicians in the post-independence era has been expediency. Listen here: in the matter of Kaina Martinez, principle lives on Partridge.
Many years ago, on September 25, 1973, a political party called the United Democratic Party was formed. It was comprised of the People’s Development Movement (PDM), a party organized by Dean Lindo in August of 1969; the National Independence Party (NIP), a party formed by Herbert Fuller of the National Party (NP) and Philip Goldson of the Honduran Independence Party (HIP) in 1958; and the Liberal Party, a group of five men – Paul Rodriguez, Manuel Esquivel, Harry Lawrence, Net Vasquez, and the late Curl Thompson.
In the months before the UDP had been formally established, there had been a preliminary group called the Unity Congress which had been summoned to his Rectory Lane home in Belize City by an Anglican priest, the Rev. Gerald Fairweather, who had been living for years in Brooklyn, New York. Inside this Unity Congress had been Dean Lindo and his PDM cohorts; the late Simeon Agapito Hassock and the late Ulric Rollington Fuller, representing the NIP and its Leader, Hon. Philip Goldson, the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives, who was away in London studying law; and the aforementioned five gentlemen of the Liberal Party.
In the streets of Belize City at the time, the most troublesome opposition to the ruling People’s United Party (PUP) was coming from the UBAD Party, led by myself and starring Norman Fairweather. We were informed that two UBAD representatives were invited to what I assume was the first official meeting of the Unity Congress. In a serious attempt to display the democratic nature of its leadership, the UBAD Party sent Rufus X and the late Wilfred Nicholas, Sr., to represent the party at the Unity Congress. We meant no disrespect, but perhaps it was thus interpreted.
Coming out of our two representatives’ report on that Unity Congress meeting, a series of internal events quickly unfolded which divided and destroyed the UBAD Party. Half of our ten officers wished to pursue a relationship with the Unity Congress, and half of us wanted to remain independent.
By early 1973, the now Hon. Michael Finnegan had been a UBAD member for at least a couple years, and he has publicly declared that he was one of the founders of the UDP. Finnegan was never a UBAD officer, however, so it may be said that in his move to the UDP, he immediately increased his power and standing. Apparently, Finnegan (then Michael Myvett) had been recruited by PDM Leader Dean Lindo while Finnegan had been an employee at Hofius Hardware in 1971 and 1972.
After all these years, I have a good idea how party politics works. It is not a solo flight, and party positions are taken based on discussion and consensus. When these party positions are taken, then all party loyalists have to support such a position, whether they agree with it personally or not.
We did see Belize City’s Lord Mayor, Darrell Bradley, recently break ranks with the UDP, on whose platform he has twice been elected Mayor of Belize City, with respect to the specific matter of the Senate investigating committee (as opposed to the UDP leadership’s bi-cameral preference) and the general matter of ruling party corruption. Bradley was excoriated in some party quarters, such as on the UDP’s radio station, but he was not expelled by the UDP, and he was not sanctioned in any deliberate, documented way.
So then, there is no good reason why the former UBAD member, Hon. Michael Finnegan, if he still holds UBAD’s roots principles dear, can not make a public statement on the Kaina Martinez matter. This is a very serious issue, and Mr. Finnegan is the second most senior member of the House of Representatives on the UDP side. He has been elected to the Mesopotamia seat every general election since 1993. His margins of victory have become greater and greater, so he is in an even stronger position than Mayor Bradley, a much stronger position in fact.
Power to the people. We remember Danny.