When this newspaper began 44 years ago, there was only one electronic voice, that of Radio Belize, and it was a PUP government monopoly. Today in 2013, there are so many, so many electronic voices. On Monday evening in Belize City, for example, we heard a Spanish religious radio station coming from somewhere out of the Cayo District.
The reason there was only that one voice in Belize 44 years ago was that the Premier of Belize, Hon. George C. Price, was embarked on a process of nation building, and he needed to be sure all of the Belizean people were listening to him. Out of many, he wanted to make one.
World War II, which ended in 1945, was like World War I before it, in that the chief antagonists were the British and the Germans, Saxon first cousins actually, and they were fighting for world hegemony through control of colonial territories. England and Germany were relatively small European states which had overachieved where world power was concerned, and they ruled large numbers of subject peoples in colonies from whence they derived raw materials for their factories at very low prices. (In both wars, the French were allies of the British. In World War II, the Italians and the Japanese were allied with the Germans.)
As it turned out, both England and Germany were much weakened by their two twentieth-century wars, and the two nations which emerged out of World War II as the dominant international antagonists were Russia and the United States. Neither of these two states had been as dedicated to traditional colonialism as the British and the Germans had been, both were supposed to be “revolutionary,” but the Russians and the Americans, like the British, the Germans, et al, also required raw materials for their factories, and increasingly large amounts of same.
In that window of opportunity which opened after World War II, when the British and the Germans (and the French and Italians) were weakened, and before the Russians and the Americans could begin serious fighting to see who would be the new top dog, colonial peoples all over the world began to cry out for self-determination, political independence, and national dignity. The most important and populous of these colonial territories was probably India, which split up into Hindu India and Muslim Pakistan upon the attainment of political independence in 1947.
The agitation in colonial territories became so feverish that the Belgians felt pressure in 1960 to grant independence to the Congo, a territory which was much less prepared for independence than Belize (British Honduras) was. In Belize, Mr. Price knew that he had a lot of work to do where the unifying of Belize’s various ethnicities was concerned. But the socio-politics in the Congo was chaotic compared to the situation in Belize. Nevertheless, Belize was claimed by a neighboring republic, Guatemala, and so Belize’s independence was delayed.
The point we want to make in this essay is that after the anti-colonial agitations and independence parties ended and sobering up began to take place, thinkers and leaders in the Third World began to realize that the European colonial powers had not gone away: they had only staged a strategic retreat. And, to make matters worse, there were two new giants which were focused on expansion and exploitation in their drive for national growth and international hegemony – Russia and the United States. This was why Third World thinkers and leaders began to speak of a new kind of exploitation, which they referred to as “neocolonialism.” We, who had been colonials, were now independent, but we remained poor and weak. Those who had been our white masters, in the process of granting us “independence” had freed themselves of any moral guilt they may have experienced, but they were now exploiting us perhaps more cruelly even though we were now “sovereign” and no longer “subjects.” We had become competitors in a very, very cruel world. We were no longer slaves, praise God. We were no longer colonials, praise God. But we remained poor and downtrodden even as we watched wealth untold all around us. We supposedly owned that wealth untold, but those of our own whom we elected to office made deals in boardrooms. The money went into secret offshore accounts, private offshore accounts, and our roots children became child soldiers, murdering each other in a desperate fight for survival.
Today, there are many electronic voices in Belize. How many of these voices focus on the greatest emergency Belize is experiencing even as we speak? That emergency, we submit, is that the most we achieve educationally is, at best, only half of what we need to achieve. We educate only half of our children each year, and some of that half receives manifestly inferior training. Every year, then, we fail our children on the national level; we produce delinquents, criminals, and child soldiers; we are unable to discipline them; and the net result is crisis.
Some of us in Belize are preparing for the end of the world, and we are encouraged in this copout by some of these electronic voices. In this newspaper a few weeks ago we referred to “recolonization.” Our real situation is glossed over if we refer to it as “neocolonialism.” The former colonial powers and those who have joined their white supremacist ranks have developed new methods of exploiting us. Where colonialism was a more sophisticated and seemingly more benign form of slavery, wherein the chains were removed from our ankles and figuratively tied around our minds, the 2013 state of affairs is absolute European brilliance. We “natives” choose our own people to rob us. Call that parliamentary democracy. And we live in order to die. This is the prescription of some electronic voices financed from abroad. We are only preparing for death, whence will cometh salvation.
Amidst the Babel of voices in Belize, we welcome the voice of the organized trade unions. The National Trade Union Congress of Belize (NTUCB) has condemned the public accounts status quo, a status quo which has been the preferred state of affairs under both UDP and PUP administrations. Finally, after years of agitation by Ya Ya Marin Coleman, has come an initiative for public accounts reform proposed by the Opposition PUP. There are parliamentary technicalities involved here, as we understand it, but it is the spirit of the initiative which we must endorse, if not its letter. Belize’s elected politicians steal the wealth which Belize’s workers create. Any proposal which purports to reduce the power of the politicians to pilfer, we must support, in principle and on principle.
Politicians, beware. The last time the businessmen and the workers of Belize were on the same page was in 2005. In the streets, we are not interested in the afterlife. We want ours right now.
Power to the people. Power in the struggle.