The PUP & The Belizean Diaspora!
As the Southern Caucus of the People’s United Party (PUP)rebelled within the ranks of Belize’s most prominent and accomplished political party against the insidious “Compromis” signed in 2008 by the Barrow administration to take the age-old, unfounded and illegal Guatemalan claim to the impartial International Court of Justice (ICJ) for adjudication, the memory of the PUP’s most beloved Party Leader, and Father of Belize’s Independence, George Cadle Price, and his 1989-1993 historic Belize government visit to the Los Angeles Belizean community comes to mind.
Flanked by his Cabinet Ministers — Glenn Godfrey, Sylvia Flores, and Vildo Marin, as well as the BREDAA representatives — Nuri Akbar, Orland Bishop and Hubert Pipersburgh, who to his left and his right sat in composure, Mr. Price delivered one of the most historic speeches by any Belize government Prime Minister to the Belizean diaspora. The audience of Belizean-American students, Latino-American students, and Belizean attendees, listened attentively as the legendary Belizean political leader addressed them first in English and then in fluent Spanish.
Looking on from the floor, it became apparent to me that though the United Democratic Party (UDP) defeated this same Belizean Prime Minister for the first time ever in a historic landslide election in 1984, it was amazing to see Price and his PUP coming back to win the Belize general elections again in 1989. The UDP’s Esquivel administration and its successor, the Barrow administration, had never organized such a historic Belize visit to the Belizean diaspora.
Today without Price, the PUP appears to be struggling to come back and win a Belize general election since Prime Minister Said Musa of the PUP led a party slate of Belizean politicians to win two back-to-back general elections in 1998 and 2003. Since then the PUP has failed miserably to win a general election again, being defeated three times now by a former 1984 UDP Foreign Minister, now Belize Prime Minister, Dean Oliver Barrow, and a cadre of Belizean Ministers who went on to sign a controversial “Special Agreement” with Guatemala in 2008 to take the Guatemalan claim to the ICJ.
But a divided PUP, the Opposition in Belize’s House of Representatives, appears to be finding some teeth and is beginning to speak to its national party executives from a position of strength, with some of its party centrals running away from the center and declaring that the party’s support of a “yes” vote in the April 10, 2019 referendum is a betrayal to the national patrimony and security of Belize that PUP’s Leader Emeritus, the late George Cadle Price, had fought for all his political life. The group of PUP resisters called the “Southern Caucus” have declared vehemently “no” to taking the unfounded Guatemalan claim to the ICJ and are beginning to pressure the central committee of the PUP to come back to its nationalist values and reject the Barrow’s administration call to join its government in rallying the Belizean masses to support a “yes” vote in next year’s 2019 referendum.
Belizean old folks would say that George Price is turning in his grave. It appeared that the objective of the historic 1989 Price delegation visit to the Los Angeles Belizean community just after its return to power and winning the 1989 general elections, was to consolidate the PUP’s political power in the Belizean diaspora, something that had never been done before. The event was organized by then Belize Consul General, Ernesto Castillo, in alliance with BREDAA, to bring the Belizean Prime Minister to the centers of power of the Los Angeles Belizean community so that Price could understand that Belizeans abroad are intricately and passionately involved in the development of Belize and the protection of Belize’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. It was also a clear message to Price’s PUP that natural-born Belizean rights should be protected by his government, who had received massive support from the Belizean diaspora in L.A. through such a high-level delegation visit.
Whether the Belizean Prime Minister left without caring, or misunderstanding the significance of such a visit, appears to have become his party’s own loss in future Belize general elections. It also appears that the PUP today has forgotten about the bridge that Price built to the Belizean diaspora, and has gone on in betrayal of Belizeans abroad, supporting a bipartisan stand with the Barrow administration in refusing to allow natural-born Belizeans abroad to vote in the April 10, 2019 referendum on the Guatemalan claim.
The center of the People’s United Party (PUP) has begun to crumble as rebels in the ranks of the party are in resistance against the Barrow administration’s unpopular foreign policy to take the Guatemalan claim to the ICJ. It’s a new day in politics in Belize for George Cadle Price’s PUP as they struggle with some of the most important nationalist values around Belize’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
(Photos through the courtesy of the BREDAA Archives)