THE BELIZE WEEKLY NEWSLETTER No. 43 – Up to 25th October, 1965
An exploration license, covering practically the whole of the northern part of the country of Belize, comprising some 4,125 square miles, was granted the Belize Chevron Oil Company, a subsidiary of Standard Oil Company, California, U.S.A.
A release issued by the Ministry of Natural Resources said the company will be obliged to drill a well to a depth of not less than 5,000 feet on or before the second year of the Prospecting license and a second well on or before the end of the third year.
If oil is discovered the company would be obliged to install a refinery as soon as the output of suitable crude oil reaches a level of roughly 10,000 barrels per day. This refinery would have a capacity of not less than 2,500 barrels per day.
THE BELIZE WEEKLY NEWSLETTER No. 5 – Up to 31st January, 1966
The Quota for Belizeans wishing to migrate to the United States has been increased from 100 to 650 per year. There is no limit to the number who can go on vacation.
Of the four Prime Ministers Belize has had, two were St. John’s College graduates, and two are St. Michael’s College graduates. As the Christian missionaries transfer their book knowledge to young natives, they carefully assess the young natives to make sure they are not educating people who will become problems for their religions and their metropolitan societies. The dominant churches in Belizean education come from Rome and Canterbury. It’s all very simple once you know where the keys are to open the doors.
When I was a child, the Roman missionaries saw that I had certain gifts which could assist them in their religious work amongst the natives. But when I was 15 and they proposed the priesthood thing to me, that was definitely not on my agenda. So, I was removed from the good books of the Roman missionaries.
I was fortunate enough to get a second chance in life. The American government representatives in Belize decided, when I was 17, to gamble on me and further my education. To be truthful, I was more than just fortunate: I was very fortunate.
I went to school in America, however, during a turbulent time. This was between 1965 and 1968. Two serious developments took place during those three years. One was the black power phenomenon, introduced in Mississippi in 1966 by the Trinidad-born Stokely Carmichael (later Kwame Toure), and the other was the crazy escalation in the Vietnam War which alienated and frightened young generations of white Americans.
In European countries like France and Germany and Italy during that specific time, there were radical student movements which were affected by socialism and communism to varying extents. The students’ greatest fear was that of nuclear Armageddon, and that fear brought into question the scientific and technological accomplishments of white Western civilization. What was the point of all the accomplishments if everything was leading, seemingly inexorably, to nuclear suicide by homo sapiens?
Knowing that I had been very lucky to get a second chance in life, I tried to stay out of trouble when I got to America. By the winter of 1967, however, I was being radicalized. And then I discovered something in a geology class which really opened my eyes.
I was taking geology in order to fulfill my science requirements for a degree, and one day the geology professor casually discussed the environments where the organisms which created petroleum preferred to operate. Such organisms liked areas where two bodies of water with different salinity levels sat next to each other. Such is precisely the environment in Belize, I thought, because the coastline water inside the Barrier Reef is significantly more fresh, because of the several rivers emptying into the sea, whereas the water outside the Barrier Reef is more saline because these are Caribbean Sea/Atlantic Ocean waters separated from the rivers of Belize by that said Barrier Reef.
Just a few months later, I came home for the summer holidays of ’67. The attorney V. H. Courtenay had done my dad a favor by giving me a summer job in their W. H. Courtenay law firm. The firm, Belize’s oldest and most prestigious, was then located on Regent Street, between Bishop and King Streets. I didn’t have much to do, and one day I ran into some papers for two oil companies – Ariel and Ajax.
I was certain, in 1967, that there had been seismic oil exploration with dynamite done in Belize’s reef system in the colonial 1950s, but at that time I didn’t know this was still going on in self-governing Belize. The Ariel and Ajax papers, tied in with my geology professor’s lecture, convinced me that oil was a big deal in Belize, and none of the Belizean people had any idea what was going on.
As time went by, I began to look at all the major developments of the 1960s from the perspective of oil. These included the 1961 post-Hattie migration to America offer, the 1962 Puerto Rico conference, the 1966 Thirteen Proposals, and then, of course, the Seventeen Proposals of 1968. It all made sense once you understood the oil. Even the attempt in May of 1969 to remove Philip Goldson as NIP Leader made sense once you understood that where there is oil, there is no room for truly nationalist leaders.
In these pages, I’ve discussed several times the unbelievable decision of the Roman Catholic Church to support a Catholic faction in opposition to Mr. Price. The alliance between the Church (Fr. Leo Weber) and Mr. Price was rock solid when I left Belize in 1965, and that is why I have described the 1972 Liberal Party creation as unbelievable. Mr. Price and Mr. Goldson were humble, old-fashioned leaders: they would never have sold out the Belizean people for money. Big oil wanted greedy Belizean leaders.
There was a decision made to remove the majority black population from Belize. The reason was that the blacks of Belize were too educated and felt they had too many rights, Tenth of September and all that. If you’re seeking to maximize oil profits, you do not want a literate and militant native population. (Slavery in Belize and in America was vastly different. The Americans explicitly prevented their slaves from learning to read and write: the British encouraged education.)
If Belize has as much oil as I think it does, then the manifest 2013 poverty of the Belizean people is a massive contradiction. It doesn’t make any sense for Belizeans to be as poverty-stricken as we are. It only makes sense on Wall Street, where the greed is all-consuming and the natives are faceless and expendable. Wall Street will never allow the people of Belize to benefit from the oil. For this reason, I would have preferred for our country not to be sitting on so much oil. I think it is already more of a curse than a blessing.
Power to the people. Power in the struggle.