“The opposition’s means, used against us, are always immoral, and our means are always ethical and rooted in the highest of human values. George Bernard Shaw, in Man and Superman, pointed out the variations in ethical definitions by virtue of where you stand. Mendoza said to Tanner, ‘I am a brigand; I live by robbing the rich.’ Tanner replied, ‘I am a gentleman; I live by robbing the poor. Shake hands.’”
– pg. 29, Rules for radicals, Saul Alinsky, Vintage Books, New York, 1971.
“The seventh rule of the ethics of means and ends is that generally success or failure is a mighty determinant of ethics. The judgment of history leans heavily on the outcome of success or failure; it spells the difference between the traitor and the patriotic hero. There can be no such thing as a successful traitor, for if one succeeds, he becomes a founding father.”
– pg. 34, ibid.
In analyzing the recent events in Egypt, I was struck by the similarities with what had taken place in Honduras, our neighbors to the south, in June/July of 2009. In Egypt, the United States wanted President Mohammad Morsi out, and in Honduras they had wanted President Manuel Zelaya out. Both these leaders had been democratically elected, and Washington always extols democracy above all, supposedly and strategically. Both Morsi and Zelaya were overthrown by military coups, and in both cases the United States government refused to condemn the military golpes for what they were. The fact of the matter is that American operatives had spent months preparing Egypt and Honduras for the military overthrows by mobilizing and financing non-military groups and organizations to destabilize governments which had been elected by the majority of their citizens, but which were undesirable to Washington.
As a parliamentary democracy, Belize is presently in what we may call the electoral doldrums, because general elections are not due for another three and a half years. The behavior of the PUP and the UDP politicians, however, has been more agitated than one would have expected after the UDP were re-elected to office in March of last year. In the old days, there would have been a definite lull in the name calling and quarreling, because the losing party would have owed a bunch of money and would have been involved in extended post-mortem, so to speak. One reason the Opposition PUP has been behaving with extraordinarily high energy is because they came so close to winning last year, and at the highest levels of the PUP their performance was a great and pleasant surprise. After all, just four months before the general elections, the PUP had changed their Maximum Leaders twice in a three-week period.
In the immediate aftermath of the 2012 general elections, the PUP declared that the UDP had stolen the elections, and for a few weeks PUP leaders and spokesmen were actually suggesting that they would not accept the results of the elections. If you remember, they actually launched some election petitions, whereupon the UDP retaliated with election petitions of their own. After a while, the dust settled and the PUP accepted their lot as Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition. House business began.
It seemed to me that the Opposition then began to argue that the ruling UDP were refusing to “grow the economy” and were not embracing “foreign direct investment” enough. The Opposition cited the takeovers of Lord Ashcroft’s BTL and Fortis’ BEL as examples of the Barrow administration’s overly nationalistic, insufficiently realistic, attitude. Today, however, the PUP seem to have settled on “dictatorial” tendencies in the Barrow rule, corruption, and nepotism as the primary targets. The PUP are on more solid propaganda ground, I think, when they attack UDP corruption and Barrow nepotism than when they try to be more pro-capitalist than the Prime Minister. The “dictatorial” part, you can’t establish that as long as there are free and fair elections. I’m just saying.
The fact of the matter is that Mr. Barrow has always been unconditionally supportive of tourism and tourism investments and completely supportive of oil drilling and exploration. He is therefore someone whom the Americans will look upon with favor. As uncomfortable as it will be for these two industry giants to co-exist down the road, tourism and oil are where Washington wants Belize to go, and Dean Oliver Barrow is no revolutionary. He will never challenge Washington to the extent, modest in my opinion, that Morsi and Zelaya did.
I can understand Independence Hall looking at the takeovers of Ashcroft businesses and interpreting these in a certain way. Arguably, the BTL and BEL takeovers suggested socialism. But the American Sugar Refining deal and the Norwegian Cruise Lines agreement, along with the opening of all doors for US Capital Energy, these declare in the loudest of voices that this is a government which the State Department will view and classify as one which “knows its place.”
Kremandala is likely the most left-wing media organization in Belize. In this unabashedly right-wing country, this isn’t saying much. But I don’t see where anyone else here has a columnist like Clinton Uh Luna, or someone who will openly criticize American foreign policy, as yours truly does from time to time. Everybody else is toeing the pro-capitalism, pro-Christianity line. For some reason, these two lines appear to have become the same. The Biblical Christ whom I studied in the New Testament was definitely not a capitalist, for sure not a neoliberal.
Belize is headed where Cuba was before Fidel Castro. We have learned nothing from the Cuban experience. It may appear to some like an unnecessarily risky position, but my position is that a small country like Belize has to keep fighting as hard as it can not to become an American garbage can. This road we are travelling on is a soft and easy road for the people at the top in the PUDP. Where development philosophy is concerned, they can jump high and they can jump low: I don’t see any real difference between the two major political parties. Same circus, different clowns.
If I were an electoral politician, I would have to behave exactly as they behave in the PUDP. The PUDP politicians are “smart money.” They know what they’re doing. They know that Washington is the superpower reality in these here parts, in the world in fact, and they know you can’t go wrong dancing to America’s music.
In the last two months, nevertheless, I have seen the desperation in the faces of too many mothers trying to prepare for their children’s return to school. Uniforms, footwear, books, fees – education is so expensive in Belize. And you’re not even guaranteed anything once you manage to pay the bills. We all know that the education provided here, overall, is inferior.
I don’t like where our society is going. But, to repeat, everything makes sense for the electoral politicians. It is because I get paid to express my personal opinions, that I can afford to tell it like it is. Belize has gone from British colonialism to American satellite status. At least we fought against colonialism. With respect to this satellite status, it appears that we have embraced same. Our leaders have decided that we have no choice. I do not agree.