Publisher — 18 July 2018
From The Publisher

Several months ago, some people decided that it was in line with their agenda to create a fake news website which declared that yours truly was one of the ten richest men in Belize.

The sinister aspect of the website was that it appeared during a period when the Kremandala institutions were actually battling for their financial life, in a collapsing Belizean economy. We have said to you before that by the latter part of 2016 we had become aware that there was some kind of organized, concerted attack on our Southside businesses, an attack which involved the ruling United Democratic Party (UDP). It may have been that these offensives began as early as late 2013 or early 2014 (in the wake of the Elvin Penner passport scandal), but it was not until late 2016 that we became entirely convinced of the existence of an all-out conspiracy against us.

You saw indisputable evidence of the ruling party’s venom lately when the UDP Leader made it his personal business to instigate, or at least publicly support, an advertising boycott of Kremandala by Belize Telemedia Limited (BTL), the telecommunications giant which the Barrow administration nationalized, in the name of and supposedly for the good of, the people of Belize, during the UDP’s first of three consecutive terms in government.

As if this was not disturbing enough, just last week you saw evidence of a malicious attempt by the UDP Leader’s law firm to inflate a minor disagreement between this newspaper’s editor and a UDP official into a direct attack on myself.

The Kremandala media businesses were originally financed by humble Belizeans in 1969 to establish this newspaper as the information/education organ of a cultural movement. There were early attacks by the then ruling People’s United Party (PUP), which included a sensational sedition charge in 1970, and later featured the largest libel cases in Belize’s journalism history, to that point, in 1982 and 1983.

Still, with the support of the Belizean people, this newspaper grew until it was able to add a radio broadcast component in 1989, and television capacity in 2003. The key was always the fact that the humble people of Belize came to our rescue as a matter of enduring commitment, such as when we had to shut down KREM Radio for a week in 1995.

The people who really have money in Belize, whom we call the oligarchs and to whom Pancho Villa referred as perfumados, they know that Kremandala is not one of the financial giants in Belize. Our strength comes from the people. Whoever created the fake news website was trying to fool the Belizean people into thinking that Evan X Hyde, and Kremandala by extension, do not absolutely require the financial support of the people. They were trying to sever the link between Partridge Street and roots people.

In the remainder of my column today, I would like to feature an almost incredible story about one of the bloody incidents which led up to the Mexican Revolution in 1910. Belizeans love the order and discipline of Mexico. It is important that you know that, throughout history, many, many Mexicans have paid the ultimate price for the nationalistic sovereignty and dignity which Mexicans, and Belizeans in Mexico, enjoy.

She was opposed to the spilling of blood, yet the rallying cry “Viva Santa Teresa” was heard during several uprisings throughout northern Mexico. According to a Mexican official quoted by the NEW YORK TIMES, Teresita Urrea was responsible for the death of more than 1,000 people killed during those uprisings. At 19, Teresita was forced into exile by President Porfirio Diaz.

She crossed the border into the United States in 1892, the year that the soldiers of Porfirio Diaz massacred and burned down the entire village of Tomochic.

For more than two weeks in October 1892, 1,200 federal troops laid siege to Tomochic, a small Chihuahuan village about two hundred miles south of El Paso (Texas). The trouble began a year before, when the charismatic leader of the village, Cruz Chavez, kicked the local priest out of town. Chavez was the leader of a spiritual movement inspired by the miraculous healings of Teresita Urrea. (Reminiscent of the modern day Pentecostals, Chavez “spoke in tongues” during his religious services.)

The Tomochitecos made pilgrimages to Rancho Cabora to pay homage to the young woman, be healed by her, and ask for her advice. Because Teresita believed that God’s healing could manifest itself without the mediation of the Catholic Church and because she denounced the priests for charging money to the poor for performing their religious rites, Teresita provoked the ire of Padre Manuel Castelo, the Tomochic parish priest. He called Teresita’s words and healings the work of the Devil. Castelo threatened to excommunicate every Tomochic villager who believed in her. The villagers, enraged by the threats, beat up the priest and ran him out of town. They took control of the church building and began holding their own religious services.

When the local authorities tried to intervene, the Tomochitecos declared they would obey no civil authority who violated their religious beliefs. The Mexican federal authorities were called in to put the rebellious villagers in their place. Things got out of hand quickly. What started off as a local religious squabble flared up into a fierce battle between the villagers and the federal soldiers.

Porfirio Diaz was afraid that if news of the uprising reached the world press, foreign investment in Mexico would suffer. The president sent a telegram to the governor of Chihuahua ordering that as soon as the Tomochic rebels were apprehended, they should be quickly and severely punished. The governor understood this to mean the complete extermination of the inhabitants of Tomochic.

The greatly outnumbered villagers of Tomochic held the soldiers of Porfirio Diaz off for two weeks. Their war cry was “Long live the great power of God and the Saint of Cabora!” The Tomochitecos nearly defeated the government troops, thanks to the rebels’ superior marksmanship, Winchester repeating rifles and their courage inspired by the belief that Teresita would make them impenetrable to bullets. Less than 100 fighting Tomochitecos killed more than 600 government soldiers. The Teresista rebels ran out of food, water and ammunition but kept fighting even after the federals set the village on fire. The federals captured seven rebels alive, including Cruz Chavez. These rebels were placed against the wall and executed immediately. As punishment for the uprising, the Diaz troops allowed the dead bodies of the fallen Tomochitecos to rot in the streets for days.

Tomochic immediately became a symbol of popular resistance against the Mexican government. It would be a thorn in the side of the Porfirio Diaz regime for years to come. Even 20 years later, Maderista insurrectos took heart in the memory that one Tomochicreberl was worth ten federal soldiers.

–    pgs. 23, 24, RINGSIDE SEAT TO A REVOLUTION: An Underground Cultural History of El Paso and Juarez: 1893-1923, by David Dorado Romo, CincoPuntos Press, 2005

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Deshawn Swasey

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