Features — 26 August 2017 — by Neri O. Briceño
The real re-registration affair

The evil genius and father of modern wartime propaganda, Joseph Goebbels, was not only instrumental in spreading the righteousness of the German cause in World War II, but most important he was able to galvanize the German population behind its leader and his twisted agenda. For the most part, he was successful and the evidence to that is that there are still those today who believe that Nazi German was on the right side in World War II. Goebbels’ programs were not targeted only at the German population, but also at those territories that the Wehrmacht had conquered and those populations outside Germany, like the Sudetenland, that were sympathetic to Nazi occupation.

Early in the war, the British, the US and all Allied forces quickly realized the power of propaganda and any type of German propaganda was banned in all countries under the Allied umbrella. Fast track to the 1950 and the Korean War, where the North placed a total blockage on any type of pro-democratic propaganda emanating from the South, in fear that their population would embrace democracy. This media blockage of not only those coming from the South but also from the world is still in place to this day. North Korea remains a hermit state with the vast majority of its citizens not even knowing that man has landed on the moon.

During the Vietnam War, both sides of the conflict battled for the hearts and mind of the Vietnamese people through various forms of propaganda. In the end, the communist North’s proved to be more effective, but like in any other conflict, both sides banned the other’s propaganda since they both knew its inherent power.

In most recent times, during Desert Storm which was the ouster of Saddam Hussein after his invasion of Kuwait, the US military under General Norman Schwarzkopf exercised tight and rigid control over any information about the war because he realized the potential of the information. With a coalition of unprecedented makeup which included Arab countries which are not traditionally allies with each other and even more so with the US, Schwarzkopf realized that any irresponsible use of war footage could potentially be used by Iraq and in the end destroy the coalition. Propaganda remains one of the strongest tools to push a population towards where its leadership wants it to go and also wants that population to believe.

Belize and the state of Guatemala are locked in a diplomatic war, make no mistake about that. It is no secret that both government have agreed, either overtly or covertly, that the ICJ is the way to go. The only obstacle standing in the way of this are the people in both populations. The Belize side has decided to tackle this issue by making it a political one and coming off a fresh general election victory, the Barrow administration is confident that it can muster enough support to win in any referendum in support of going to the ICJ. If not, it has its secret weapon, which I will explain later. For the Barrow administration, the ICJ has less to do about Belizean sovereignty and more to do about dollar and sense and also leaving a legacy. There is no doubt that some law firm will make millions upon millions of dollars from going to the ICJ, because this is no peanut venture. The process is long and requires a ton of attorneys, accountants, economists, diplomatic experts, and consultants — in other words, a bunch of bottom feeders. There is no doubt that a lot of people will become filthy rich from this undertaking. It will also leave a legacy for the party and leader that is seen as solving the Guatemalan territorial claim regardless if we happen to lose something.

There are enough Goebbels within this administration to make a loss seem like a win. On the Guatemala side, their biggest trump card is their confidence that they will not come out empty-handed. Guatemala over the years has crafted enough points to make them have some degree of grounds for some gains at the ICJ. They have a large diaspora population living inside Belize. We can thank the PUP for that, since it was their quest to remain in power and win votes which drove them to grant Belizean citizenship to citizens from a nation that claimed us. Not that the UDP’s stopped the process either. And the Guatemalans already have control over the Sarstoon. Two requisites for a strong case: actual citizens living here and control over a portion of the land.

The secret weapon to gain support for any ICJ referendum is re-registration. Everyone will agree that the voters’ list is corrupt and inaccurate to the core at best. But what it guarantees is that in any vote, the thousands upon thousands of Guatemalan living in Belize will vote one way, and that is yes for going to the ICJ. The failure to conduct a thorough re-registration of the actual voters is the passageway to the ICJ. Honestly speaking, I do not expect re-registration anytime soon despite the rhetoric coming from Independence Hill.

Make no mistake, Guatemala and Belize are at war. Not war in the physical sense of an armed conflict, but one over the sovereignty of Belizean territory. To make matters worse, Guatemala remains engaged with its population within Belize by a daily dose of cross border propaganda via its newspapers, like Prensa Libre, Nuestro Diario and Siglo Veintiuno. Thousands upon thousands of these newspaper flow across the border on a daily basis feeding what is essentially Guatemalan propaganda to its people in Belize. These newspapers are by no means promoting Belizean interests in any way whatsoever but rather present the Guatemala alternative in each case. I would be compelled to say that these newspapers combined, sell more papers in Belize than this newspaper I am writing for. These newspapers need to be banned from entering Belize because they pose both an economic and security threat to our nation. I will say that if the situation was reversed and that this newspaper was making wide circulation in Guatemala and promoting a Belizean cause, there would be bonfires at the border from them.

For those that want to cry free speech, let it be said that free speech does not apply when national interest is at stake. Belize cannot and should not afford a platform for foreign propaganda to further poison the minds of a people that is already Guatemala-leaning. The Guatemalans are beating us on every angle and the propaganda war is no different. If you have doubts, just pick up one of these cross-border newspaper and find out for yourself. The big question is: which Belizean Judas is profiting from this?

It’s all about the people!!!!

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