BELIZE CITY, Fri. Nov. 23 (1990)
KREMANDALA formally lifted the boycott on Coca Cola, Fanta, and Sprite on Saturday, November 17, following the resignation of the Belize National Football Association (BNFA) executive.
The boycott, which began on October 19, was quiet, firm, and effective. Support from a cross section of Belizeans nationwide pressured the Bowen people to take a closer look at a situation which had become undesirable.
– pg. 1, AMANDALA No. 1104, Fri. November 23, 1990
You know that in the matter of the scandal at our Immigration Department, there was great and manifest reluctance on the part of the ruling United Democratic Party (UDP) to initiate an inquiry of a public, official nature. In fact, the attitude of the UDP administration was and is a story unto itself, but the real, original story was the crazy corruption, from high places to low places, involving visas, nationality certificates, and passports. It was under severe duress that the Barrow government permitted a Senate Select Committee to investigate. The question in the streets today is: what took them so long, Rasta?
In the matter of the disenfranchisement of Kaina Martinez, arguably Belize’s best athlete, with respect to the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, the silence of the UDP politicians and bureaucrats has been, as they say, deafening. On the other hand, the Opposition People’s United Party (PUP) has done nothing to expose and publicize the injustice done to Kaina. I may be a tiny bit surprised, but, more importantly, I am very, very saddened.
There is a prevailing culture in Belize which finds different ways to put you down if you are black and you aspire to what the power structure considers too much dignity. Without having investigated the Kaina Martinez scandal from “enka tu flenka,” as roots Creole say, I am convinced that Kaina Martinez did not humble herself enough in front of the ruling sports bureaucrats, she did not prostrate herself, and yes, when I say “sports bureaucrats,” I am referring to the Belize Olympic and Commonwealth Games Association, or whatever it is they call themselves in their air-conditioned hotel suites.
Fifty years ago Mugger Garbutt was the best, and they drove him out of town. Ludwig has not come home to visit for many decades. You don’t have to be that old to remember what they did to Pulu Lightburn. In music, they did it to Pete Matthews. Just the other day they began doing it to Tilliman Nunez.
There’s a certain way you feel about yourself when you’re the best in something. You are entitled to feel that way if you are the best. You have earned that ranking, and your accomplishments give you a confidence which increases your pride of performance. The classic example of this “best” vibes is perhaps Muhammad Ali, and by the time he died the whole world had to pay him respect. When he was at the absolute height of his career in 1967, when Ali was young and frigging unbeatable, the power structure in America took away his heavyweight title. When they had to allow him to fight again in 1970, Ali was still great, but never as great as he had been in1967. Ali’s sin was that he was black, and proud.
Kaina Martinez, I’ve never met you, but I swear you must have a special dignity to endure these insults from Belize without crying out in pain. Very few Belizeans know that in December when our Belizean officials were hosting Simone Biles and falling all over themselves in adulation, Kaina Martinez, quite coincidentally, was visiting home on holiday at that exact same time. No one knew, and, more important, no one cared.
I found out about the Kaina visit several weeks later from a young lady who gave me Kaina’s e-mail address. I mailed Kaina to introduce myself. I explained to her that the people who had done her wrong were very, very powerful people in Belize, but if she wanted to fight for justice, Kremandala would support her all the way. Kaina indicated a willingness to fight. This was about five or six weeks ago.
Since then, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking. Lately, I’ve been doing research on the bitter battle between Kremandala on behalf of Milpros, on the one hand, and the Belize National Football Association (BNFA) and Bowen & Bowen, with the Broadcasting Corporation of Belize (BCB) thrown in for good measure, on the other hand, in October, November and December of 1990.
The now Right Hon. Said Musa was Minister of Sports in a PUP government at that time. As many of you know, Said and I have basically been estranged since 2004, but at the time of that aforementioned battle, Kremandala survived because Mr. Musa stood between us and the juggernaut Bowen empire. There were prominent Belizean men who showed themselves to be manure between November and December of 1990. Said Musa proved himself to be a man.
I will now say this to Mr. Musa and the Opposition PUP. You need to examine the Kaina Martinez matter. The individuals who are responsible must be made to give a public explanation to the people of Belize. The sports executives and bureaucrats who disenfranchised Kaina Martinez are protected by the Bowen & Bowen business empire. This is the same business empire which was the current Prime Minister’s most prominent campaign financier when he entered national electoral politics in 1984. The UDP Prime Minister’s closest Cabinet ally was employed at Bowen & Bowen for more than a decade. This is the kind of power we are talking about when we talk about Bowen & Bowen and their sports executives and bureaucrats, power which reaches all the way into the Belize Cabinet.
Last October, we Belizeans saw where the teachers of Belize had to do the job which the Opposition PUP is constitutionally empowered and mandated to do. If the PUP now can’t even perform the simple task of forcing the Belize Olympic and Commonwealth Games people to come clean and testify, we have to wonder what the hell is going on at Independence Hall.
Personally, I am too old and hassled to begin any conflict with Bowen & Bowen. But, sometimes a man has to do what he has to do. I sincerely believe this Kaina Martinez case was and is a matter of discrimination, at the core of it. There are people who have to prove to me that it is not so. I saw those people disrespect Neri Briceño in a rank manner. Let it now be known: I have Neri’s back. They will answer for the injustice done to Kaina, or we will have a problem.
Power to the people.