The power structure during the British colonialism we Belizeans experienced in this region, a power structure which was built on the philosophy of white supremacy, had a standard approach to dealing with any form of insurgency. That approach involved the identification of the leader of that insurgency, and then the directing of maximum firepower against him. The thinking was: kill the head, and the body will die.
A few years ago there was an insurgency in the Tower Hill area, involving cane farmers or cane factory workers, or both. The power structure of the independent Belize focused on the leader, and went all out after him. I was very impressed by how the body of the insurgents maneuvered to neutralize that focus, and to protect the leader. Their tactics were brilliant.
In the corporate and political structures we see in the developed, industrial world, the structures are designed with the intent of minimizing the importance of personality at the apex of the pyramid. If the corporate or political structure in sophisticated systems loses a charismatic leader to illness, death, or whatever, the structure can replace that leader and continue functioning without major hiccups.
I think the most sensational example of that in my generation’s lifetime was when the United States president, John F. Kennedy, was assassinated in November of 1963. This was an absolutely traumatic event for the American superpower. And yet, a new president was sworn in, in a matter of hours, and life in America basically went on as if nothing catastrophic had occurred. The system withstood the shock. It had been designed to do so.
Today, on the other hand, our region is concerned, worried even, about how the Venezuelan system would react if the charismatic Hugo Chavez died, or became permanently incapacitated. A few years ago, Fidel Castro became incapacitated, and he was successfully replaced by his younger brother, Raúl. Cuba has moved on without disturbance or upheaval. Many people had thought that once Fidel had to leave, the Cuban system he had introduced would collapse. Hugo has not been in power as long as Fidel has been, and his opposition in Venezuela is much stronger than Fidel’s opposition in Cuba. Mr. Chavez has named a successor, but there are observers who suspect that there are power struggles going on inside the ranks of the Chavistas. We can only hope the Venezuelan system is as strong as the Cuban one has so far proven to be.
Considering the structure at Kremandala today, I would say that it is pluralistic. The newspaper, radio, and television have separate managements. There is no permanent policy or operational integration involving the three businesses. Theoretically, integration would be the ideal, I suppose, but the problem began with the 1989 birth of KREM Radio, a limited liability company, and the financial crisis in which it quickly found itself. Essentially, Amandala, which is a personal proprietorship, had to subsidize KREM Radio from 1989 to 1998.
The arrival of KREM TV in 2003 presented a problem similar to that which KREM Radio brought to Partridge Street. KREM TV is also a limited liability company, and it was inadequately capitalized, just as KREM Radio and Amandala (1969) had been before it. But, how could it have been otherwise? These are institutions which were established by poor people, on “hand middle,” as it is said. The difference between the newspaper, on the one hand, and the radio and television, on the other, was that street sales were a substantial part of newspaper revenues from the beginning, whereas there is no direct financial support that one receives from the people in radio and television. In the case of radio and television, the business must generate listenership and viewership sufficient to convince businesses which can afford to advertize, to do so. Our radio and television, then, depend more on direct advertizing support than the early versions of the newspaper did.
So, the 2013 reality of Kremandala is that, in order to survive and protect the jobs we have generated, we enjoy a more friendly relationship with the business community of Belize than would have been the case in the early years of Amandala. Kremandala of 2013 is not the Amandala of 1969. Harsh critics have accused us of “selling out.” The oligarchy here, however, does not look kindly upon us.
Last week a traditional opponent of mine made an attack in another newspaper, and you could see where he was fighting to make the attack a personal one. This was always the tactic in the old days: go after X with the ad hominem. This tactic doesn’t work that well any more, because Kremandala is not a monolithic structure. I don’t control the news department at KREM Radio, and I don’t interfere. KREM TV does not have a news department, but many categorical opinions are expressed by Mose and Sharon on the “Wake Up Belize” morning show. These are not necessarily Evan X Hyde’s opinions. What about Ya Ya’s Sunday Review? I don’t write every single editorial in Amandala, Alejandro. You are living in the past. Mine is no longer a “voice crying in the wilderness.”
I thought our mid-week issue this Tuesday was a classic. I had trouble coming up with a column, and then I received e-mail material from Nuri Abkar and Evondale Coburn, Belizeans who live in Los Angeles and Georgia, respectively. These are brethren with different opinions and perspectives, but both were reacting to the same unprecedented incident – the Plues and Dean slaughtering which was paralyzing the rest of us. We are repeating the Abkar and Coburn material in this weekend’s issue. They are saying things the rest of us need to know and consider as we fight for sanity in this shaken Belize.
Power to the people.