Ismail Shabazz and I were in New York City in January of 1972 trying to get financial assistance for the UBAD Party when someone broke into somewhere and stole a large amount of dynamite in Belize City. Because I thought only the Public Works stone quarry at Rockville handled dynamite, I assumed and believed that “somewhere” to be the said quarry.
But one of my friends who lives in America was doing some research at the Archives in Belmopan three or four months ago when he found some stories on UBAD in The Reporter, and had them copied for me to see. This was the first time, I swear, that I knew that the dynamite stolen in January 1972 had been stolen from the British Army Camp in Ladyville. How do you steal 400 pounds of dynamite from the British garrison in Belize? It doesn’t figure.
Shabazz and I arrived home from New York about two weeks after this incident, and almost as soon as I get home I am summoned to the workshop of a UBAD sympathizer. This guy was really an NIP, but everybody who was against the PUP was supporting UBAD in 1972. He was an officer in the British Honduras Volunteer Guard, and I would say that he was probably pro-British. He was no roots man, that’s for sure.
“I have the dynamite,” he said to me. “Look inside that cupboard.”
I opened the door of the cupboard and saw something wrapped in a Beacon newspaper.
“Take it out,” he urged. I followed instructions.
“Open it,” he continued. I followed instructions.
“Take it with you,” he urged. So I did.
I know nothing about dynamite except that exploding it is a technical operation requiring things they call “caps” and “detonators.” In that moment, I was scared, but I felt that I owed it to the UBAD Party executive to show them the material this gentleman was forcing upon I. This “showing” took place at a UBAD executive meeting held at our headquarters at #46 Euphrates Avenue.
Within a day or two, one morning before daybreak about 25 paramilitary armed with automatic rifles surrounded my home at West Canal under the command of Oswald Gillett and accompanied by senior police officer George Willoughby.
Attorney Dean Lindo won that case for me on a technicality.
I have never asked the gentleman who was the source of the dynamite a single question about it in the last 40 years, although he and I have done business on different occasions. These days, however, I feel the urge to ask him to tell me the story, his story.
A few months ago, Clinton Uh Luna, who had been living in Mexico in the early 1970s, told me that there was a report he had heard that UBAD had done something violent in Corozal Town, a place where UBAD never had organized support. Luna didn’t have any details.
On Sunday morning on a visit to Corozal Town, I met a Corozaleño who now lives in Los Angeles, and I asked him about Uh Luna’s report. He told me that there had been an explosion at Santiago Ricalde’s home. As far as he could figure, this would have been the incident. Boy, oh boy, I thought to myself.
As far as I know, the 400 pounds of dynamite were never found. For sure there were never arrests in connection therewith. I never met the late Santiago Ricalde. He and Jesus Ken were the two PUP powerhouses in Corozal in the 1960s – Ken in Corozal South and Ricalde in Corozal North. Mr. Price, in an amazing show of personal power, pushed out Jesus Ken in 1964, and Ricalde apparently did not learn the lesson. In the early 1970s, he began to fight with Mr. Price.
In those days, you know, Corozal was five, six hours away from Belize City. You had to go through Maskall, and the road was rough, a lot of white marl. I know almost nothing about the nitty gritty of Corozal politics. I would like for someone from those days to tell me about Ricalde, and his quarrel with PUP leadership, and perhaps the explosion.
In the matter of the attempt to extort money from the late Ismael Gomez, as reported in The Reporter issue of Friday, February 4, 1972 (See INSERT), I know and knew nothing. I’m not sure I even heard that story forty years ago. Life was moving too fast for me in those days. I missed some things.