Publisher — 08 August 2018
From The Publisher

“As of August 1, 2018 the ONE thing that Guatemala wants is an END to the dispute.”

–    excerpted from a column by “Ed. U. Kate” on page 14 of THE GUARDIAN, Sunday, August 5, 2018

THE GUARDIAN is the official newspaper voice of the ruling United Democratic Party (UDP) of Belize. But the UDP will, somehow, not hold itself responsible for the content of such an anonymous column in their newspaper as the one often written by the one “Ed. U. Kate.”

I am of the belief that I know who the anonymous writer is, and he is a highly educated member of a very prominent UDP family. The columnist claims to be intelligent, analytical, patriotic, and so on and so forth, but I am sure he will grant that his ultimate aim is the dissemination of political propaganda which is favorable to his family and his party.

On reading his column this past week, I was struck by the sentence which is quoted at the top of this particular publisher’s column. I thought, how could he make such a silly statement? The one thing Guatemala wants is not an end to the dispute per se: the one thing Guatemala wants is for Belize to become the twenty-third department of their republic. This is the aggressive imperialism which the Guatemalans enshrined in their constitution more than seventy years ago.

When in 1532 the Spanish conquistador, Francisco Pizarro, entered the spectacular Inca kingdom in what we know today as Peru, the Inca emperor, Atahuallpa, made a fatal mistake, because he thought he could “settle the dispute” by giving Pizarro a roomful of gold. Atahuallpa did not understand that Pizarro wanted more than a roomful of gold: Francisco wanted everything, Atahuallpa’s entire kingdom. Because he did not understand his enemy, Atahuallpa made mistakes which cost him his kingdom and his life.

Personally, I have tried to refrain from taking sides in the debate about whether or not to go to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for a final, binding ruling on Guatemala’s claim to Belize. It is pretty clear to me that the Foreign Minister of Belize and his “yes” team have, nevertheless, come to the conclusion that Kremandala, as a media entity, is committed to a “no” vote. This unilateral conclusion is not fair to Kremandala, but the “yes” people are jumpy. They are seeing the debate as a war, and you know war and fairness are mutually exclusive. To my mind, what has been coming out of Kremandala reflects the initial, instinctive reaction of the Belizean people to the ICJ referendum proposition, and that initial, instinctive reaction is “no.”

At the same time, I have felt for a long time that I would end up on the “no” side. I have, however, not publicly committed to “no,” and, trust me, it’s not that I am being cute or anything like that. This is very serious business we’re looking at, and the Belizean people must be given every opportunity possible to study the proposition and make up their own, individual minds. When it comes to the Guatemalan claim to Belize, I am not a scholar and I am not an expert, neither legal nor military. What I am, is a gambler, and I think a gambler would feel that we Belizeans are risking too much here. But, needless to say, Belize is not run by gamblers.

Belize is run by the electoral politicians of two major political parties – the ruling UDP and the Opposition People’s United Party (PUP). The two parties have become pretty similar in their philosophies and perspectives, which is why it does not appear that the PUP leadership is opposing the UDP leadership where the UDP’s “yes” campaign is concerned.

The indications are strong that it is the mighty United States of America which is pushing this “yes” vote more than anyone else. Electoral politicians are basically safety-first people. What could be more “safety-first” than going along with the superpower U. S. of A.? So, there is where we are today. All the official energy in Belize is pushing “yes,” but on the ground the Belizean people appear to be skeptical, even suspicious.

Any Belizean who appreciates our parliamentary democracy here, must respect our electoral politicians. The electoral politicians are absolutely indispensable to the functioning of what we have of democracy in Belize. It should be understood, however, that there are some extraordinary, critical moments in the histories of societies when power becomes a commodity or a reality which lies in the streets: anyone can pick it up, and then the chips will fall wherever they may.

Such an extraordinary, critical moment occurred in Belize Town on the night of July 22, 1919. Another such, extraordinary, critical moment may have occurred on April 2, 1981, but the British Governor of Belize intervened. All responsible citizens are fearful of such moments, but societies dedicated to injustice spawn masses of desperate citizens who have nothing to lose. There is the distinct possibility that independent Belize has become an unjust society. If you allow for that possibility, then you must allow for uncertainties in the months leading up to April 10, 2019.

Commentators are always saying what a peaceful people Belizeans are. They express this opinion in the stark face of a bloody civil war which has been raging in the streets of Belize for more than a quarter century. The casualties of that civil war, however, are of a certain ethnic texture and social class where they are apparently not considered as human beings created in the image and likeness of God. I’m just saying.

In conclusion, I want to give respect, once again, to Wil Maheia, the Belize Territorial Volunteers, the Northern Territorial Volunteers, and all those hundreds of brave Belizean patriots who have made that trek to the Sarstoon over the last few years to go eyeball to eyeball with the Guatemalan military. These Belizeans are the vanguard of our nationalism. It is vital that we understand that theirs are actions which constitute initiatives of Gandhian non-violence. There are occasions on which a commitment to non-violence can be as courageous as a call to arms. Ask John Lewis and the heroes/heroines of the Black American civil rights struggle.

You can’t Anancy your way out of this one, Sons of Honduras. According to your Emorystory, a white slavemaster named Thomas Paslow led you in 1798. So, who’s gonna lead you in 2019? Michael Ashcroft?

Power to the people.

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Deshawn Swasey

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