As a people, we have been through experiences that have left us in disbelief. This description of “disbelief” applies to those of us Belizeans from the older generations, and the disbelief reaction occurs because of the colonial frame of reference with which we grew up five and six decades ago.
Younger Belizeans do not experience our disbelief. They have grown up in the age of television and computers. There is nothing which leaves them in shock. They are more likely to experience anger and outrage, and it is arguably the case that anger and outrage are more relevant in 2014 Belize than shock and disbelief.
1950 Belizeans fought against colonialism and class prejudice. 1969 Belizeans fought against racism and imperialism. Today, what Belizeans are fighting against are modern, sophisticated, sinister forms of racism and imperialism. It is a very difficult fight, because we are not properly educated about the nature of sovereign nationalism, and we are not dedicated to that sovereign nationalism. In addition, educated Belizeans, such as our lawyers and politicians and big business people, have taken the lead over the last three and a half decades in selling out Belizeans, Belizean assets, and Belizean national dignity, for money. They are never punished for their treacherous deeds. In fact, it is the treacherous ones who run our society.
In practice, there is something dangerously flawed about our nationalism in Belize. This is not uncommon in countries which were formerly British colonies. At the point of attaining independence in 1947, colonial India had to be divided into Hindu India and Muslim Pakistan, and later Bangladesh had to be separated from Pakistan itself. These separations were accompanied by great violence and bloodshed. In independent Nigeria, where there are hundreds of tribes and spoken languages, the Ibo section of the nation broke off to form Biafra in 1967, and a brutal, bloody civil war lasted until 1970. To this day on this side of the world, there are serious disputes between the citizens of African and Indian descent in Trinidad and Guyana.
Belize is not unique where our ethnic disparity and shaky nationalism are concerned. The British constituted an empire, and in the pursuit of British imperialism the priority was to facilitate the rule and administration of overseas territories. It was always convenient for the imperialist to confine populations with longstanding, traditional differences and disputes within the same administrative zone. Different and disputing native populations weakened themselves by fighting against each other. The armed imperialist remained strong enough to dominate the divided natives.
But Belize is unique where the Guatemalan claim is concerned, because that claim is supported by the most powerful nation in the world, the United States of America. Despite our ethnic differences and class prejudices, we Belizeans moved forward to self-government in 1964 with a feeling of energetic optimism. Reality set in two years later when Philip Goldson exposed the Thirteen Proposals in 1966. In 1968, American mediator Bethuel Webster’s official Seventeen Proposals confirmed Belizean fears: Belize was to become a part of Guatemala, where administrative reality was concerned.
Once Belizeans rebelled, as we did in 1966 and 1968, Premier George Price realized that his journey to independence for Belize would face a rough ride. There are islands in our region, such as the Caymans and Bermuda, which have remained British colonies and appear to live reasonably happily. Belize really did not have the choice of remaining a British colony, however, because the British were going with the Americans to pressure Belize into land cession. PUP leaders have argued that they had no choice but to go on to independence without a defence guarantee.
There was a large minority of Belizeans who were opposed to that risky independence. Belize entered independence on September 21, 1981, as a divided people, and under martial law. Insofar as the important preparations for independence were concerned, specifically the national symbols, the ruling PUP did not seek to woo the dissident minority: rather, they catered to the militant majority. Our country has, inevitably, remained divided along political party lines.
One of the areas of our disbelief at this newspaper has to do with Belize’s sports programs in our most popular sports, such as football, basketball, softball, boxing, cycling and cricket. It is a known fact that there is nothing which unifies a people as much as performances of excellence by their national selections. This is an area where investment and support from national governments would have contributed to Belizean nationalism. Instead, the stark opposite has been the case: UDP and PUP governments both have disrespected sports programs in order to focus on the enrichment of their political cronies.
The situation where the football and basketball facilities in Belize’s population center are concerned, is really a national disgrace. Belize’s PUDP leaders are not truly nationalistic in their thinking. They are jet-setting salesmen for Belize’s passports, patrimony and people.
Everything is for sale in Belize. Our leaders do not believe in Belize, because the Americans, and the Americans are the biggest hammers in the world, said to us 46 years ago: you belong to Guatemala. Washington has never really changed that music. And, it is that music to which PUDP leaders have danced and are dancing. It is only the Belizean people, beloved, who can save the Belizean people. It is the youth who will lead us. The child David slew the giant Goliath. It is written.