When the anti-colonial movement began in British Honduras in 1950, the dominant presence in the local economy was that of the Belize Estate and Produce Company, Limited, known to us here as “BEC.” BEC owned incredible amounts of prime real estate and raw land all over the colony, and it was really as if they were the business extension of the colonial administration the British Empire ran from Government House.
Because of the fact that they were working partners with Government House and because BEC had grown out of the rule of the Baymen in the settlement of Belize, Belizeans hardly thought of BEC as “foreign direct investors.” But, technically, BEC would have to be categorized as such by modern PUDP politicians and their economists.
Those of us in the resistance movement, on the other hand, would describe BEC as a predator organization, because they brought little investment into Belize, and they exported all their profits to Britain. In fact, the British peer who came here in 1985 was quite similar to BEC: he brought little investment and exported all of his profits. For decades, however, he was dubbed as a “foreign direct investor.” And, he was favored by both the PUP and the UDP.
The beneficial area of these predatory activities of colonial and post-colonial days was that they created some employment amongst Belizean natives. Their respective employees were, of course, loyal to BEC and to the British peer. The reality of job creation provided the opportunity for some local politicians and other domestic collaborators to extol the activities of both BEC and the British peer. But, the sober reality is that both BEC and the British peer were operating in a territory which was ruled under the umbrella of white supremacy, which is a racist and exploitative philosophy.
In assisting BEC and the British peer, Belizeans who did so were collaborating in the continuation and furtherance of local and international white supremacy. This was not a sin they were committing: such natives were only trying to survive and to improve themselves within the existing, repressive socio-economic climate. Where such natives became counter-revolutionary, however, is when they began to conceive of themselves as superior local beings and to look down upon those of their brethren and sistren who, not having gained access to the BEC and British peer job opportunities, were resisting BEC and British peer rule in different ways.
This last sentence is important for you to consider, because it is the platform from which we will move (even if you condemn such a move as a bold jump) to the fact that within the white supremacist world of BEC and the British peer, the recreational drug of choice and legality was alcohol, its finest brands being those of the various imported Scotch whiskeys. Rum was roots alcohol, but it was also legal, because it was alcohol.
When Belizeans at the base of the socio-economic pyramid began to smoke weed for their “working class and unemployed” recreational purposes, most of the weed smoking was taking place “‘cross Yabra bridge.” The feeling of the native population in the old capital city east of Yabra bridge, was that “ ‘cross Yabra bridge” was a different world, a world where colonial policing was less in evidence, and where colonial police only ventured when seeking suspects of specific, major criminal acts.
So then, you could say there were two different worlds in one city. There was the old capital city, where whiskey and rum ruled, and there was “’cross Yabra bridge,” where some people smoked weed. Suddenly, at least two different developments took place in the mid-1960s in Belize. One was that a few daring young residents of the old capital began venturing “‘cross Yabra bridge” to smoke weed “da South.” The other development was that an incredibly talented and progressive music combo originated “‘cross Yabra bridge” and began coming east across the bridge to conquer the old capital. This was the Messengers, led by saxophonists Pete Matthews and Bill Belisle, and featuring Chuck Gladden on guitar and Ulloyd Henderson on vocals. The Messengers, by and large, were smokers of weed.
In the old capital, the respectable element who collaborated with white supremacy, had unconditionally condemned weed smoking, and because of that condemnation they shunned the Messengers. At the same time, these same respectable Belizeans were tolerating the noise, violence and social dysfunction of all the alcohol bars and clubs in the old capital because our rulers had legalized alcohol, and “Massa” was always right. They were not revolutionary enough to see past the hypocrisy of Massa’s discriminating laws, and so the sensational Messengers were soon lost to Belize’s music and culture. You are supposed to drink liquor, nigger, not smoke weed. This is as the white rulers and their native collaborators have decreed. There was no discussion before this was decreed, and there has been no debate since.
In independent, third millennium Belize, our youth continue to be beaten, fined and incarcerated for smoking a herb of the earth, because of a law written by white supremacy and supported by white supremacy’s native collaborators. In the kingdoms of white supremacy, meanwhile, they are smoking weed legally in many of their cities, and it is clear to us opponents of white supremacy that as soon as white supremacy sufficiently controls the production of the weed itself, then white supremacy will actually declare the weed legal. And in Belize, white supremacy’s native collaborators will then say, Amen. It was always about the money, you see. It is written.