Seems to me, based on a couple conversations I had last week, that there may be a feeling out there that I should be activated to support my eldest son, Mose, so that he can supposedly be up to the task at his post with the Christian Workers Union (CWU). The fact of the matter is that billionaire corporations (Santander and ASR/BSI) and billionaires (the Port of Belize’s Lord Michael Ashcroft and the faceless Big Creek oligarchs) ganged up against the stevedores. Straight like frigging that.
In Honduras, the republic to the south of us, they “disappear” you, and nobody can do or has done anything about it. So perhaps we should be glad the billionaires here have not disappeared anyone yet. This is a neoliberal region, and unionists, like journalists and environmentalists, are fair game. The record is there for those of you who want to know the truth.
Now remember, I said “seems to me.” Mose is a grown man and can take care of himself. His decision to enter trade unionism caught our family by surprise. This was not a family or Kremandala decision. As I understand it, a personal friend from the Belize City waterfront who had saved Mose’s skin in a very tight spot while he was doing a promotion some years ago, asked him to take over the union because crisis was following crisis. Mose was elected by the CWU members by a clear majority. The CWU had had three different presidents in the previous years — Antonio Gonzales, Audrey Matura, and Dale Trujeque.
If Mose made any mistake, it was to allow himself to become inflated by the Belizean media to the point where he became the face of a high-profile union balloon. But, you see, and I’ve been around a long time, there are a lot of fags and Toms out here in this business, and they dislike me and Kremandala intensely, as do their “handlers.”
You will remember all that our basketball and football teams experienced in the 1990s (we were trying to create jobs, dammit, on the much maligned Southside), because our competitors in the media thought that any success these teams achieved would reflect too well on Kremandala. Conversely, if the teams failed, then that would become business damage for Kremandala. Mose was a target because of things that have nothing to do with the CWU and the port.
I remember that in September of 1993 Kremandala had bought a franchise in the semi-pro football league, which had been founded in 1991. Just two months before, in mid-July 1993, our basketball team, Kremandala Raiders, had won their first title ever. This was only a couple weeks after the United Democratic Party (UDP) had narrowly defeated the incumbent People’s United Party (PUP) to win the June 1993 general election. The UDP’s big guns in Orange Walk were Aragon and Campos, who were hard-core Esquivel loyalists.
Our football team, Kremandala Warriors, made an unimportant September 1993 trip near the end of the season to play the champions, Raul Pelayo’s Juventus, in Orange Walk Town. I say “unimportant” because Juventus had already qualified for the four- team playoffs that season, while the young Kremandala Warriors had guaranteed that we would not be relegated to the second division.
The game ended 1-1, Kremandala having led most of the way, but for some reason after the game there was a disturbance between a Juventus forward and a humble defender of ours, “Tickles” McCauley. Tickles’ older brothers, David and Francis, were also starters on our team. (After the game, I remembered I had been threatened before the game by an apparent Juventus fan for no reason at all.)
The Juventus fans stormed the field and attacked the Kremandala players. I vividly remember our goalkeeper, Jerry Collins (Steve Myles by baptism), fighting more than ten Orange Walk fans armed with sticks and pint bottles. The late Bogle and Clay Monsanto both told me that they had been chased through cane fields with machetes. No media house in Belize ever reported the incident. I have more to say, but let it be.
In any case, Mose Hyde is not the CWU: he is only the president, and a good one at that. The Belize City waterfront workers were the backbone of the PUP when it was formed in 1950. Times have changed. The cane farmers became the core of PUP strength after the building of the Tower Hill sugar factory in the 1960s in Orange Walk.
No one’s going to activate me to interfere in Mose’s union work. If you want to blame me for anything anyone says on KREM Radio, that’s the price we pay for our ideological independence on Partridge Street. That’s an independence that we have fought for for more than five decades.
I don’t want to get into any fight with the new PUP government. After experiencing all the roughing I took from Mr. Price’s PUP between 1970 and 1973, and then again between 1981 and 1984 (several arrests, several Magistrate’s Court trials, and two Supreme Court trials, besides two major libel cases), I realized that the power of Prime Ministers in our political system is such that a mere newspaper publisher is fighting a losing battle when he fights the political monarchs. And yet, knowing all that, I was sucked into a feud with the Rt. Hon. Manuel Esquivel of the UDP, the new Prime Minister elected in 1984, when he discriminated in 1987 against my friend, Rufus X, who had been a founder of the UDP in 1973.
What’s going on at the port is a very big deal, because Lord Ashcroft, the receiver at the port, doesn’t give a damn about the stevedores. He wants the port territory for a cruise ship terminal so that he can combat the Michael Feinstein investment at Stake Bank. Ashcroft wants to turn the Southside of Belize City into a tourist mall. Lord Ashcroft is an egotist: he feels he always has to win. It was the PUP government of Belize which should have stood up for the stevedores in all this hassle. It was the grandparents and great grandparents of the Belize City stevedores who stood for the original PUP in 1950.
Today, no one cares. There’s a fight here which features the neoliberal oligarchs against the people. Mose Hyde is standing for the people. Are you? South of us in Honduras, the oligarchs do whatever they want. You want Belize to become like that? Tell me.