Features — 04 October 2017 — by Colin Hyde
Sincerely naïve

I remember where I was when the announcement came over the radio that young Derek Aikman had defeated PUP icon and Father of the Nation, George Price, in 1984. I was at a table in my father-in-law’s bar, drinking with my brother-in-law, Kenrick Banner, and a Camalote legend named Heraldo Martinez. I don’t know how Kenrick and I didn’t knock over our bottle of rum. We both leapt off our stools.

I can’t forget how old Heraldo reacted to the news. He bawled. I had love for the old brother so I felt for him. That night, he was just at the wrong table. That was a good man (Price); that was a good man, he said. He was right. George Price did a lot for land reform in this country. And Heraldo’s family had done okay by it.

In 1984, I was a red believer. My mother’s first cousin, Dean Lindo, was a prominent member of the UDP at the time. And my mother was a lifelong voter for Goldson and the NIP. I knew that my father, Charles B Hyde, supported the PUP, but he never discussed his politics in his house. Naturally, as a youth I stood with my mother.

Oh, in later years my father told me that yes, he was PUP – but he always voted for Philip Goldson. He said it was a matter of democracy. He said that Belize was too close to becoming a one-party state and he wanted no part of that.

There’s a lot of pink in the UDP now, but on a matter of heart it is still closer to red than blue. Sin duda, I support my nephew in his politics. Ain’t no living saints in that business but I believe I know where Cordel’s heart is. When his party blew it 1998-03, I didn’t vote for them in 2003. I didn’t vote for the red crowd that year either, because of their meanness during 93-98.

Back to 1984, and my red core. We have a red government and all on the periphery of party politics in Belize (people who don’t vote in conventions), people like me, are sailing along. Of course you notice what is going on in your country and with the political parties. But only a nasty scandal or some other kind of drama will get the sincerely naïve to really pay attention.

It is so that when your enemies without are no challenge, you will find enemies within. I wake up because the UDP boat has entered turbulent waters. Rufus X has declared his intentions to challenge for a seat in Belize Rural, and the UDP is acting like they don’t want him. And there is talk about a challenge for the chairmanship of the UDP – Derek Aikman vs Dean Lindo. He, Lindo, doesn’t have to be my cousin for me to think that by any stretch this is disrespect. Lindo is to the UDP what Goldson is to the NIP.

It could have been a desire to be unchallenged king, but the sense I got is that Esquivel wanted Lindo out because there was a story that he had been involved in a deal that seemed unethical. Esquivel had a machete that he wielded. He had humiliated a celebrated labour leader for an indiscretion that didn’t amount to much more than the price of a loaf of bread. From his world as an isolated, insulated teacher, Esquivel didn’t respect that this labour leader had lived with his life and livelihood on the line, to help preserve democracy in this nation.

The UDP boat was rocking. There’s this scene, late in the classic fight between Sugar Ray Leonard and Tommy Hearns, when Ray’s manager, Angelo Dundee, berates him in his corner: “You’re blowing it, Son; you’re blowing it,” he yells at Ray. Ray minded blowing it, so he got to work. Esquivel’s UDP didn’t seem to mind. He wanted Lindo cut to size and he didn’t mind the cost. Derek Aikman was his eager tool. Aikman became UDP chairman and he helped block Rufus X’s candidacy, an effort that must have pleased his American friends immensely.

The PUP defeated the UDP at the polls in 1989, in the closest election up to that time. And I, a sincerely naïve person, was innocent no more. I think I still have my sincerity (hope so), but after 1989 I keep the focus on politicians and party politics. From then I would pay attention to the things politicians do. As they say, I started to sleep wid mi own eye.

I watched much of the Zenaida Show on Krem TV last Wednesday. She had an interesting guest, Mr. Derek Aikman. He’s got his personal story, and that’s important. But one has to wonder in what world this gentleman was, in respect to a certain analysis he spouted.

Aikman said that Justice George Singh came through big time to protect the sanctity of the ballot in 1984, the year he defeated George Price. Singh got out of bed at 11 on the night before the 1984 election, to block some major PUP wikidnis. If all Aikman says is true, Justice Singh is to be congratulated. And everyone who has a little sinister in them and wondered why Singh’s boys have done so spectacularly under the UDP, well, have you got some fodder to chew on.

Some of Aikman’s story about the non-secret ballot is ordinary news. Everyone knows that an unscrupulous Returning Officer can do a “little” fishinis if they really try. There’s no such thing as a perfect system. But it is a revelation (for me) that there are party people in the counting room, writing down numbers so they can match them with voters. I think any Returning Officer who observed that, and didn’t move to stomp it out, he is no kind of capitán.

Aikman’s call for cleaning up the voters’ list cannot be denied. Here he stands with everyone in this country who isn’t dyed-in-the-wool red.

If I heard him right, he made a wild accusation re the 2012 election. I am not eager to believe anyone is malicious so I’ll just say that this gentleman must be sincerely naïve. There’s a lot to debunk his nonsense, but we’ll go straight to Orange Walk Town and the hard REAL.

We are in election season and John Briceño, a career politician who has recently been ousted as Leader of the PUP, is hosting. It must be a humbling thing but John finds it within him to mouth “Que viva” for his rival turned Leader.

Anyone who isn’t sincerely naïve knows that Mark Espat was, effectively, in coalition mode with the PUP when Election 2012 was called. There had been much turmoil in the PUP, and it was clear to all who weren’t sincerely naive, that Mark’s vision for Belize didn’t jell with those who had won control of the blue party.

Mark Espat running on a PUP ticket led by Ralph Fonseca’s cousin was very like Philip Goldson running on the UDP ticket in 1993. If it was a PUP decision to jettison Mark Espat’s Party because it (his vision) would play no role in a PUP 2012 government, then Francis Fonseca and Said Musa are more honest than Manuel Esquivel and Dean Barrow. Remember the latter pair had taken back Goldson, knowing full well that his NABR would play no role in a UDP 1993 government.

No one demanded that Philip Goldson get on a UDP rostrum and roll over for Esquivel and Barrow. They didn’t dare! Can you see Dean Lindo rolling over for Esquivel in 1989? But this is exactly what the PUP 2012 demanded of Mark Espat. They (one of their more prominent leaders) did so demand, in a public place, that Mark Espat bow before the new Leader!

The bigger HALF of that coalition absolutely, totally disrespected the smaller HALF, publicly. There’s a thing called a Catch 22 – damned if you do and damned if you don’t. It’s also called, being between Scylla and Charybdis, and being between a rock and a hard place.

You judge a man’s intellect, knowledge, and human quality, by the serious pronouncements he makes. The mouth and pen speak what the heart (mind) is full of. There are things that are done behind closed doors; and no, there are no living saints in politics. But I believe the facts support the observation that Mark Espat’s Party was in an IMPOSSIBLE situation.

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