Features — 27 January 2018
Screw your upstaatnis  to the right place

I had my chances to try and join the ranks of the educated elite. In my youth, higher education in the US beckoned a few times. My boss at HHL (Hummingbird Hershey, Ltd.), NE Wade, saw me “squandering” and he called me aside one day and “warned” me to go.

I didn’t. I’ll leave off telling you why I didn’t go, but I’ll tell you why I never went, not even to touch ground in Miami.

I had to go on a trip one time, and the travel agent, a friend, asked me if I wanted her to arrange it so I could overnight in Miami. I’d prefer not; only if I have to, I told her. So, when I got to Miami I moved from one chute to another chute, to my connecting plane. I was damned happy I didn’t have to touch their soil.

In high school, at Compre, we were taught a little West Indian history. The persons who got the most attention were the Duvaliers, Papa and Baby Doc. In the 1970s these Haitian leaders were a very notorious pair.

I thought Brother Paul Rodriguez a little disloyal when he wrote, some long years ago, that there was no place on earth that was more beautiful than St. Louis (I think that’s the place he wrote about) in the fall. I’ve seen some movies set in the USA, in the fall, and the colors are really stunning. Maybe Brother Rodriguez spoke the truth. But I really didn’t appreciate him saying that.

When television was new in Belize, there was a guy, a Belizean who had lived in the USA, who used to come by Camalote to do repair jobs. Some people said he wasn’t all that right in the head. I never had any difficulty with him. We had some good conversations. It’s possible, though, that he had issues. Maybe he had some kind of war problems.

Someone who knows things, told me that the legendary Cobo (1960’s Belize) didn’t drift ashore in Belize: he was sent here, by his parents. This person told me that Cobo had fought in WWII, and he had been too near the bombs. So his parents sent him to quiet Belize (then British Honduras) to recover from his – shellshock.

A lot of Americans go to war. That country is by far the most fighterous nation in the world. I bet there is not a day in the last one hundred years when they haven’t been at it with somebody. A heck of a lot of American youths are sent to fight in wars. No one goes to a war and comes back whole. Some hide their wounds under scars. Some wounds are too serious for that.

Anyway, this itinerant colega told me one day that America is far more beautiful than Belize. He said the reason was that Americans do a lot of landscaping, which includes the planting of a lot of ornamental trees.

I’ll tell you why you don’t stop and admire my yard when you pass through Camalote. I live on a marl hill. That type of “soil” is for making roads, not planting trees. Flowers do bloom in the desert. Kraabu doesn’t mind a marl hill. That tree has got its gifts. In the teeth of the dry, when almost all the other trees are bare of leaves, or droopy, the waxy leaves of the kraabu are as shiny as the leaves of other plants after the first rains. Towards the end of the dry the kraabu will start dropping its leaves. That’s because it is about to cover itself in a glorious raiment of tiny yellow-orange-red flowers.

Yes, I’ve seen pictures of temperate countries in the fall. They are very pretty. But we can come up big if we invested more time with the gardening club in our communities.

A heck of a lot of Belizeans yearned to be in America. A lot of our students have studied over there. A lot of Belizeans have lived in and loved that country.

Me, at no point in my life did I dream about America. I’m a definite socialist so I was never impressed by their material world. But as a youth I was admittedly impressed with their sports culture, and their music. I would have gone then.

In time I began to see things about America that I didn’t like. I started to learn the ugly part about that nation’s history. I couldn’t single them out for slavery because we had that too, but I learned that the stories about cowboys fighting off “dangerous looking” Indians were really about genocide and broken promises. I learned that the criminal dictators who ruled in our region – the Duvaliers, the Somozas, the Bautistas – they were all propped up by the American war machine. I learned about the exile of Arbenz, the murder of Bishop, and the crazy pressure put on Fidel and the Cubans by the American war machine. I learned about the crazy, unfair drug wars they have caused in our countries.

America has some bad past, and some real bad foreign policy. Of course charity begins at home. American foreign policy is for American people and American businesses. Fair enough, everyone expects you to love your own, but you can’t, shouldn’t operate like everyone else is a complete aside.

Of course they aren’t all bad. Belizeans haven’t forgotten how America came to our aid after Hattie. Belizeans can’t forget the hundreds of scholarships we have gotten and continue to get. Belizeans can’t forget the technical assistance and other helpful packages that come our way.

Belize has to defend itself in the world. When American foreign policy is 100% at odds with our interests/beliefs, we have to stand our ground. Belize’s vote is committed to the liberation of Cuba from the yoke of America’s embargo, Belize’s vote is always with Mexico when she fights to make her economy better for her people, Belize is with the Bolivarian revolution which seeks to give roots Venezuelans a better life, and Belize’s vote is with enlightened people around the world who support a two-state solution in the Middle East.

Belize doesn’t seek to offend America when it takes positions that are contrary to theirs. Belize must do what it believes is right.

Belizean leaders must make sure we do what is right in a very respectful way. I have noticed that some leaders are not careful with their words when they have a difference with America. This might come from familiarity. Some Belizeans are so familiar with America they forget we aren’t citizens of that country. I see a number of Facebook peeps criticizing the American president. They are almost all from Belizeans who have American citizenship. They have rights. I usually pass over those posts. I am a citizen of Belize.

I expect it is great pragmatism that, because of America’s military might, we be careful with our words, respectful when we speak to or about them. But the bigger reason is that we accept gifts, and other help, from this neighbor. We want them to change their foreign policy (in some areas), but on the real that country is our friend.

It is honest practice to respect the gifts of a friend, to buck them only when you must, and to always speak to them nicely. I would like for Belizean leaders who are feeling brash to redirect their upstaatnis to fighting corruption, and favoritism, and poverty.

                                                          Not HONEST to say weed legal in Belize

It is now legal to be in possession of ten grams of marijuana if you are on your premises, or in a private place where the owner does not object. But, it is ILLEGAL for a person to have a marijuana plant. It is ILLEGAL to have marijuana in a public place – school, business place, hospital, and such. And, it is ILLEGAL to have more than ten grams of marijuana.

When the government made it legal for citizens to have ten grams of marijuana, it brought down an iron fist on people who sell it. Many did not see the sense in that.

I heard someone say that every time you find weed you find a gun. Well, if you make flour or rice illegal, when you find those grains you will find a gun too. That’s because every good that is made ILLEGAL is controlled by CRIMINALS.

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Deshawn Swasey

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