When this newspaper began as the organ of a black-conscious organization with revolutionary impulses, we were informed by those who were more knowledgeable about revolutionary change that where there existed democratic mechanisms for change, such as elections, there could not be revolution. Our early teachers also said that attempts to alleviate the conditions in a corrupt system constituted reform. Our teachers considered reform as amounting to a propping up of a corrupt system, they believed that reform delayed the necessary revolution, and so reform, in the ultimate scheme of things, was an evil rather than a good.
In the search for the betterment of our people, we experimented for ourselves. The rhetoric in Belize 45 years ago was confusing. On the one hand, there was a ruling party in government which said that it was carrying out a “peaceful, constructive revolution.” The phrase was clearly oxymoronic, but the majority of voting Belizeans supported the ruling party. On the other hand, there were the experts in revolution who were saying that a revolution in Belize was not possible, because democratic elections were being regularly held. But, they were also saying that reformist measures were not good, because they encouraged corruption and delayed revolution.
Then the experts in revolutionary theory joined the ruling party and began to participate in elections as candidates of the ruling party. After 1984, one of the experts in revolution withdrew from electoral politics and became an academic. The other expert became a part of the corrupt system and rose to the top of the political pyramid.
At this newspaper, we participated in a municipal election in an alliance with the Opposition party. Then there was a power struggle in the Opposition party, and this caused division in the black-conscious organization, because some of our leadership wanted to support a new Opposition leader and others did not like the new Opposition regime.
The black-conscious organization collapsed, but this newspaper remained. Our commitment to the betterment of our people also remained, and we eventually decided that the only way we could contribute to that betterment was through the creation of jobs. Now such a decision amounted to a measure of reform, and reform, as we pointed out to you in the second paragraph of this essay, had been branded a no-no by the revolutionary experts. So then, our reform initiatives essentially, we suppose, made us counter-revolutionaries.
Over the four and a half decades of our newspaper existence, Belize became a place where the natives always wanted to leave and now it is a place where all kinds of foreigners are dying to relocate. Belize became a place known to be wealthy in resources but whose people were poor and therefore vulnerable to investors and predators.
Looking back, we think that our revolutionary teachers were right where their theories were concerned. One cannot make a revolution where there are democratic mechanisms for change, such as elections, and one cannot reform a corrupt system: it must be replaced. In 2014, we can see that Belize’s corrupt system is still firmly in place, and attempts at reform have only been like a band-aid, covering but not curing.
On Sunday, the ruling political party here held a candidate convention in Ladyville to choose their standard bearer for the Belize Rural Central constituency. The atmosphere was really more like that of a general election. By that, we refer to the intensity of the five rival camps and the evidence of considerable financial outlay where campaign material and infrastructure were concerned.
To a certain extent, there is a carnival atmosphere in general elections, and by that we mean that the masses of the Belizean people have come to view these exercises as opportunities to have a good time with respect to food and drink and gifts.
Our impression was that there were no real issues being decided on at Ladyville on Sunday. The activity was about making a choice of personalities for ruling party general election candidacy. And what usually happens nowadays in contested conventions is that the candidate favored by the top brass of the specific political party usually wins, because this is the candidate who will have the most campaign and election resources.
We have been saying to you for some time that the two dominant political parties in Belize, the UDP and the PUP, have become so similar as to be often indistinguishable from each other where policy is concerned. They both endorse the church-state system of education, tourism and casinos, foreign direct investment, and the continuation of Belize’s socio-political status quo. The third parties which have sprung up in the last decade plus, are divided, scattered, and of no electoral account.
So then, there is no real change in sight on the Belizean horizon. This means that the Biblical truth will continue in place: the rich will get richer and the poor will suffer.
The Belizean key to progress and liberation was always how we would improve in our educational training of our citizens for greater national productivity. The vast majority of our citizens have to be educated while we are still children: the older the citizen becomes, the more difficult and expensive it is to educate. As you can look around and plainly see for yourself, a lot of our children are falling through the educational cracks year after year after year, religiously.
Uneducated children grow up to become uninformed voters. A powerful democracy is only possible when there is mature, informed voting. Such voting is not happening in Belize today, because the education system has failed to perform adequately. Souls are being saved, but lives are being lost.
Power to the people.