At a private meeting of the leaders of the People’s Development Movement last week, Mr. Dean R. Lindo was elected leader of the newly-formed political party.
A lawyer of a Church Street address, Lindo has been in politics for over 5 years as a member and leader of the National Independence Party. He quit the party earlier this year after having failed to influence the policies and strategy of that party.
Other officers of the new party are Colville Young, Deputy Leader; Hugh Weir, Treasurer; Carlos Castillo, Secretary, and Lawrence Young, Chairman of the National Council.
– pg. 1, THE REPORTER, Friday, October 31, 1969
As I look back on my early years in public life, I can’t help but remember the old saying, that it is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all. I participated in three different elections (1971, 1974, and 1977), never even came close to winning, but the political process taught me a lot of things they don’t teach you in school. As a result of my experiences between 1971 and 1977, there was advice I could give my second son, Cordel, when he campaigned in various conventions and elections between 1994 and 1998.
We Belizean people absolutely don’t like losing and losers. For this reason, electoral politics here should never be approached cavalierly or taken lightly. That was the case with the UBAD Party under my leadership in the December 1971 Belize City Council election. Because of some academic successes as a child and young man, I think I believed that we could participate in that election in order to acquire experience and that the actual result wasn’t that important. I did not believe that the pain and humiliation would be as bitter as they were, because the NIP/UBAD candidates were so obviously underdogs. In Belize, it really doesn’t matter if the odds are against you: don’t lose!
The key thing in that particular election was that Dean Lindo and his People’s Development Movement (PDM) boycotted the campaign. Around May of 1969, Lindo had, surprisingly to me, challenged Philip Goldson for leadership of the National Independence Party (NIP). Goldson defeated Lindo, who then charged that the leadership convention had been rigged, broke away from the NIP and formed the PDM. The same month of August 1969 that UBAD began publishing Amandala, Lindo began publishing his own newspaper – The Beacon.
In early November of 1969, the PUP Leader and Premier, George C. Price, suddenly called general elections, which were not really due until March of 1970. Goldson and Lindo hurriedly put together a coalition – the NIPDM. Our UBAD and the People’s Action Committee (PAC), led by Assad Shoman and Said Musa, had only a couple weeks before, in October of 1969, formed a coalition called the Revolitical Action Movement (RAM).
The NIPDM invited the RAM leaders to a meeting to see if RAM could be persuaded to support the NIPDM campaign. This meeting was held at a home off the Northern Highway behind where the old Ray Woods’ gas station used to be. So this would be, to put it another way, across from the Belize Flour Mill. I remember we had to walk maybe 150 yards or so over what people would now call “London bridge.”
There were big people at that meeting. Mr. Goldson was a national hero. Mr. Lindo was a brilliant attorney who also had an economics degree. I remember the late Hugh “Donnie” Weir and the late Melvyn Hulse, Sr., for NIPDM, were at that meeting. On the RAM side, myself, Shoman, Musa, Ismail Shabazz, Silky Stuart. Perhaps del Valle, Galento, Justice, I’m not sure.
The meeting broke up suddenly when word came that there was a fire at the Woods’ gas station. People left hurriedly. It had already become clear, however, that no working relationship would take place between NIPDM and RAM. I always felt it was the PUP who sent in the fire report to break up the meeting. Whatever.
NIPDM lost badly that December. Only Goldson retained his Albert seat. So when the new PUP government charged me and Shabazz for seditious conspiracy in February the following year, and we won the Supreme Court case that July, defended by Shoman and Musa, some of the frustrated NIPDM energy began to flow UBAD’s way. No general elections were due until 1974.
Shortly after I began teaching at Wesley College in September of 1971, word came that Mr. Goldson wanted a coalition with us for the December 1971 CitCo election. This was a major honor for the UBAD Party, which had never participated in an election before. Mr. Goldson was the only Opposition member in the House. Apart from being a national hero, he had constitutional credentials and credibility. I will repeat: this was a major honor for UBAD.
Once the campaign started, I paid no attention to the Lindo boycott. I should have. About ten days into the month-long campaign, I saw where we were sure to lose unless we did something dramatic. I suggested we hold a public meeting without getting a permit. Because of the uprisings in 1966 and 1968, there was a law which said you had to get a police permit 24 hours before you held a public meeting. I figured if we ignored a law which was meaningless in an election campaign and the authorities arrested us, that would be good publicity for us. If they didn’t arrest us, we would be seen as macho, and we would get even more street support.
I can’t swear Mr. Goldson was at that meeting, though I believe he was. But I am 100 percent positive that it was NIP Deputy Leaders, Senator Simeon Agapito Hassock and Ulric “Buntin” Fuller, who shot down that suggestion immediately. In my mind after that, the NIP/UBAD candidates were doomed. Remember, there was no 18-year-old vote back then. You had to be 21 to vote. The hard-core bulk of UBAD’s support was youth.
NIP/UBAD got about 40 percent of the vote. I couldn’t believe how hard I took that defeat. After all, once Hassock and Fuller refused to gamble, I knew we were going to lose. Yet, I couldn’t handle the loss, and made a desperate decision to go to New York City to seek help.
The one thing I got out of that New York trip in January of 1972 was the sobering realization that UBAD was just a sideshow in the Opposition. By the time Shabazz and I returned from New York in early February, Mr. Goldson had shut down the Billboard and gone to London to study law. The ruling PUP quickly started to bring down the hammer on UBAD, and Dean Lindo came to our rescue as defence attorney, pro bono. A year later, UBAD divided over the Unity Congress/UDP initiative. The UDP was formed in September of 1973. Goldson’s days of Opposition leadership were over, and UBAD itself was finished.