Before Belize was flung open to tourism in the mid-1980s and 1990s, it was already the case that our society had a lot of poor people in urban settings. Often when we speak about our poverty in Belize, we hesitate to confront the starkness and brutality of the human condition of poverty. We don’t want to say that people are hungry, much less that people are starving.
In a home which is poor and hungry, the physical sexuality of the child, especially the female child, becomes an economic commodity, a commodity increasing in value as the child enters puberty. The sexuality of the child may be classified as an economic commodity in a poor home or community because there are adult predators of various sorts who are willing to pay money in order to exploit, violate actually, the sexuality of the child. In a poor home or community, which is suffering from hunger, money from any source means food, which amounts to the easing of pain.
Even in the non-tourism economy, as was the case in Belize before the change of government in 1984, there was pressure in poor homes for parents and guardians to protect their innocent children and teenagers from their own sexuality. We repeat, in a poor home hunger is a reality from time to time: in fact, hunger may be an almost chronic condition. As the child’s sexuality develops, the child becomes a potential source of food for the home.
There are countries in the world where tourism is only one more source of income in a diversified economy. Tourism is a certified money earner in wealthy nations. Everyone wants to visit Paris and New York City. Tourism does not affect the national psyche of rich nations in a negative way: tourism boosts the ego of the rich nations. In a poor nation like Belize, however, the essence of tourism involves visitors from rich countries being entertained by people who are suffering from poverty, which is to say, hunger. Tourism can be toxic for our national self-esteem.
Looking back, it is difficult to separate television from tourism where their entry here and impact on the Belizean psyche are concerned. Television entered in 1982, and was let loose after the change of government, just like tourism. The twin terrors of tourism and television have created a climate in Belize which emphasizes pelvic activity more than cerebral pursuits. Everywhere we turn we see beautiful, healthy young Belizean bodies in the bump-and-grind mode. Remember, earlier we told you that even in the pre-tourism days, the sexuality of our children and teenagers had to be guarded by parents and guardians. In the tourism economy, this is even more the case, because there is much more money around which is hunting for young, innocent sexuality. But, no one wants to talk about this, because Belize’s ruling politicians have totally endorsed the tourism economy concept, and continue to congratulate themselves publicly for their “wisdom.”
Now then, in Belize’s television-intense and tourism–dominated climate, sexual exhibitionism has become almost voyeuristic. Sometimes it seems as if everyone wants to watch everybody else’s “pelvicity.” The perspective of our children is being poisoned by the atmosphere. As usual, well-off parents are in a better position to protect their children and teenagers from the pelvic madness and ensure their focus on developing their minds.
Why is it important for our children to be more focused on developing their minds than on exercising their pelvis? The reason is that the competition in the pelvic world is extreme, and one’s shelf life is limited. One’s pelvic value declines sharply as one matures and ages. With acquired cerebral skills, on the other hand, one can compete into one’s senior years, when no one is interested in your pelvis as a commodity.
Nowadays it appears to us as if Belize’s September celebrations are not so much about patriotism as they are about tourism. The centerpiece of it all has become Carnival. And there is nothing as erotically and publicly pelvic as Carnival. It reached the point fifteen or twenty years ago where a few brave Belizeans began to condemn the sexual exploitation of Belize City children in the Carnival parades. What grown men and women want to do with their bodies in public is basically their adult business, but the bump-and-grinding of the skimpily-dressed children had become outrageous, and for sure this must have attracted pedophiles and predators worldwide. One troubling aspect of it all was that the outcry never came from Belize’s church leaders. And it is they who should have nipped this in the bud twenty years before.
It may well seem that the newspaper is branching out into religious morality in this editorial. We think, however, that our concerns are secular and nationalistic. What sort of nation are we building here? Belize is fast heading towards where Cuba was before the Revolution. Perhaps we are already there. India and Singapore, you know, were desperately poor Third World nations before their leaders committed to educating their children, developing their brains, at any cost. One thing about Belize’s first Prime Minister, Rt. Hon. George C. Price, was that he saw that tourism could never be the foundation of a Belizean economy which emphasized national dignity.
It’s bad enough for us to have experienced the John MacAfee scandal and the Faye Linn Cannon horror. Every time the ruling politicians tell us how great Belize’s tourism sector is doing, we ask ourselves the question: where is the money? We are seeing too much hunger and pain in the streets of Belize City around us.
And, 49 years after this newspaper began to be subjected to all kinds of persecution for demanding that Belizean children be taught their ancestral African and Mayan history, Belize’s educational power structure still refuses to do right. It is for sure that our children are gifted enough cerebrally to aspire to higher than Carnival “pelvicity.” There is something seriously wrong here. The white supremacists put our own people in charge, but the agenda our own people are carrying out is the original white supremacist agenda. Nothing that substantial has changed in the education curriculum here since colonialism. Television and tourism rule.