Two things have occurred recently which are troubling for hard-core Belizean nationalists. One was the recent visit to Great Britain by Prime Minister Dean Barrow and his family. That visit was too colonial, both in its substance and in its appearance. The second troubling development has been the mobilization of thousands in the South and the West by church elements which are more concerned with religion and morality than they are with sociology and economics.
The thousands of marching Belizeans did not seem to have an issue with the Prime Minister’s sudden, strange trip to Buckingham Palace and his meetings with the Lord of Chichester. The issue the marching Belizeans had was with a government document called a “gender policy.” Some church leaders consider the document to be satanic in aspects, and it appears that they have linked the gender policy with the UNIBAM lawsuit which is seeking to have homosexuality declared legal in Belize.
Except for the incredibly heroic efforts of our national football selection at the Gold Cup tournament in the United States, we Belizeans would now be in psychological shambles. The Queen and the churches have said to us, for those who wish to hear, that Belize belongs to forces which are neither indigenous or authentic.
A couple weeks ago, COLA marched in Belize City against criminal negligence at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital. COLA’s support was minimal. A few months ago, BGYEA marched in Belmopan for roots land rights. Their support was minimal. But thousands and thousands of Belizeans have come out for “pro-constitution” demonstrations which are targeting the gender policy.
Around us in Belize City, we have watched in helpless silence as the landmarks of our ancestral history have been dismantled, one by one: the Newtown Barracks; the Central Market; the Palace, Majestic, and Eden Theaters, BEC field, the Memorial Park … All around us, the open greens of football fields have been gobbled up and replaced by small, cement basketball courts. And then, right before our very eyes, some savage, cynical, cold-blooded attempts were made to destroy the MCC Garden.
The sum total of all this, it appears to us, is that the living conditions and emotional well-being of the Belizean people are not priority matters: it may be hyperbolic to say, but things are essentially the same as they were under British colonialism. The churches which brought out the thousands against the gender policy did not care as much about conditions at the KHMH or the injustices being committed at the Lands Department. And the Prime Minister himself, Belize’s Maximum Leader, appeared to be in a world of his own, removed from street reality.
In the modern era, the Queen has always had a remedy for our condition: her remedy was Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition, whichever of the two political parties that happened to be at any given moment in time. The churches’ answer was, of course: we’ll all go to heaven when we die.
The bane of our situation was always the divisions amongst our Belizean people, divisions which were cemented in the administrative lines the British drew between the Districts. Coming out of independence, the only truly national institutions were the two political parties and the Christian churches. None of these situations desired revolutionary national unity for Belize. The PUP surrendered to the Queen in 1959, and the UDP, for its part, had never left the umbra of Buckingham Palace. None of the churches here has ever been indigenous and authentic. Even Guatemala has a black Christ: in Belize, all the Christs are blondes.
As we look around and watch all the many millions being spent on tourism infrastructure here, we ask ourselves: how many of the benefits to be derived therefrom will reach the roots? Apologists for the system will explain, condescendingly, that the multilateral loans which made these tourism works possible were not available for deep sea fishing or food production agriculture. Out there, some rulers of the world decided that tourism was the way they wanted Belize to go. At the same time, other rulers of the world were keeping the petroleum option open for Belize. Now it’s become a back-and-forth thing – big people business. One day Oceana, the next day U.S. Capital Energy …
Roots Belizeans, you saw all the obstacles which faced our national football selection. We gave them all our widow’s mite support, nevertheless, and our selection did fight bravely for us. In these times when we are drowning in the waters of the Queen and the churches, we hold on to the straw our selection has held out to us. The Queen is the richest woman on planet earth. Our political leaders are multimillionaire attorneys. The pastors eat well. It’s a rough road the rest of Belize trods. Rough.