Features — 08 September 2018
First 80 pages too much for old agenda

Some people noh have no chaynj fu chaynj. A month or so ago I had put aside enough chum to purchase my very own copy of Assad Shoman’s, “Guatemala’s Claim to Belize – the definitive history”, and Jerry Enriquez’s,”To Educate a Nation: Autobiography of Andres P. and Jane V. Enriquez”, but people richer than I had purchased all the copies at Belmopan’s three bookstores. I always have my projects, but someday soon I’ll be liquid enough (after purchasing my necessary weekly libation) to go to the bookstores again. In the interim, last weekend, a very kind person stepped forward and loaned me their personal copy of Shoman’s book. Thank you, thank you, it is worth every copper you spent on it.

Now, before I continue, I must say, pronounce again (I have done so before), that I have the utmost respect for Brother Assad Shoman. That might not be worth anything to him, but it is worth much to me. I want everyone who knows or trusts me to know how I feel. Assad Shomanis a true Belizean hero.

Hn, I really don’t know why it is in Belize that you can’t point out the flaws you see in a person, even after you have pointed out their numerous virtues. Belize is really a funny place. The name of the game in Belize is, “Overlook my faults”. People should keep their baggage at home. I worry that we’re all damned.

As I said, the book is worth every copper the kind person paid for it. But the first 80 pages, I have to complain. Afew times, if I wasn’t a mature person I would have run out of my room and spit. Instead, I just paused, and laughed, sometimes to the point where I had to catch my breath. I can’t believe Assad Shoman is still pushing the same old game. Really, some people have no chanynj fu chaynj.

The first 80 or so pages have to do with the Anglo-Guatemalan dispute before Father of the Nation (George Price) drafted Assad into his party, in the early 1970’s. At the time he got drafted, Shoman was out in the cold because his political movement, the People’s Action Committee (PAC), had fizzled. Price picked him up at great risk, because Assad was showing serious communist leanings. It is perfectly fair that Shoman feels kindly, very kindly towards the Father of the Nation, because he was taken out of a third party situation and, without having to sacrifice his political ideology, he was “made” into a Cabinet Minister.

I have to say the returns for the nation were magnificent. Of course Assad got paid. He got to go around the world, and he even got to meet Fidel and Carter and rub shoulders and intellects with many other great leaders. Loyalty and adoration are great, and Shoman esteems Price as highly as he does Fidel.

Now back to the first 80 pages and the interpretation of the fascinating anecdotes in the 60’s. Guatemala is a villain; we knew that. Why can’t this bully leave Belize alone? But surprise, surprise, wait, no surprise, there is villain in the British—and in Goldson too. Ouch, the British are always up to no good, and Goldson is treacherously out to one-up Price so that he, Goldson, can steal some personal glory. Price alone, he of “contact or no contact,” stands between us and Guatemalan nationality.

Everything has an explanation. I’ll have to go to the archives because Mr. Shoman is relentless in his disdain for the great man. It is amazing that even in the presence of bold facts that refute the old lies, the scholarly gentleman persists in his assassination.

It’s just too much that so many years later there still is this insistence from some PUP quarters to rain on the contributions of Philip Goldson. Who went to hard labor in jail for telling the British there are two paths for Belize to independence, evolution and revolution, and Belize was fiddling with the former?  Who was bold enough to tell the British that Arbenz was treating his people better? Who was bold enough to make contact with Fidel, as CIA papers proved? And who insisted that the British better not dare play games with Belize?

As for the villainous British (of course they aren’t saints), yes, they offered land to Guatemala. We should not overlook the fact that they didn’t give them any. Very early on they could have because they had the papers and they had the army. Of course they knew that Guatemala’s claim was illegitimate. But they also saw the very real size of their army. Still, they handed over our country with all our territory intact. Why? Was it all because of George Price, the PUP, and Price’s brilliant young lieutenant, Assad Shoman?

It takes pressure to produce a diamond. Where did it come from? The young Father of the Nation did not exhibit a political bone outside of the Pope’s business. In the 1940’s, while he worked for Bob Turton, and got into politics because he was encouraged to do so, Goldson was championing workers’ rights in the fields and streets and newspapers and trade unions.

The truth is that a diamond can be produced only under great pressure. Those who choose not to be blind know where the pressure came from. If we seriously want to find out how Price became a diamond, we have to look to Goldson.

There are a lot of books about Price, and they all gloss over the fact that he was basically thrust into leadership, and that he was hammered into glory by the people around him. He did not come devoid of gifts. If I recall, his father had some military training. There are no records of the young Price leading sports teams, boys’ gangs, or fishing and hunting expeditions. But he had to have had some discipline because of his “military” father, and he showed resourcefulness and some physical ability during the 1931 hurricane.

He did not choose the Volunteer Guard or the Police. Unlike Goldson, who had to work his way through high school, Price’s road was paved all the way. He went abroad to study to become a priest. He quit his studies to be with his ailing father. He went to work for Belize’s leading businessman, Bob Turton. He must have learned a lot from the great businessman, and the many sea and forest heroes that worked in the Turton establishment.

When the British devalued the dollar, Price’s businessman employer (who was shipping chicle and other goods to the USA) pushed him deeper into a political career. (It is natural that Belizeans would seek an alliance with the USA, both countries at one time being colonies of the British Empire.) By this time Price had a very good background, butthere is no evidence of a political vision. It is men like Goldson, and Richardson, and Pollard, who would put him through the forge that produced a man who could lead us to independence in 1981.

It is impossible to gloss over the “Federation” that caused the split in the PUP in 1956. Goldson had experienced the Latin world, in Guatemala, and he was impressed with their new economic vision. Arbenz (the Guatemalan president at the time) is a hero for the ages. But Goldson couldn’t have gone to Guatemala and not experienced, felt the hatred white Latins have (had) for people with black skins.

Price, on the other hand, was quite likely completely at home in Guatemala. It might not have been the best move for Belize to “federate.” But we can’t overlook the race story here. Things must have been said, strong things that made Price get the full sense, that people of color here could not overlook the race realities over there (Guatemala). Later, the beginning of the massacre of non-white people would also have forced Price into the full sense of the nature of the Guatemalan oligarchy.

To respect Philip is not to disrespect George. The “time” said it was Price who had to go forward. But Goldson stayed the course beside him, “pressuring” him every step of the way.

If John McCain had played white card he might have been US prez

There was this moment during Senator John McCain’s campaign for the job of US president in 2008, when a middle-aged to old white woman pleaded with him to say that his opponent, Barack Obama, was a foreign imposter. John McCain looked her in the eye, and told her, sincerely, no lady, that man is a good American citizen. If McCain had played that game, the white supremacy game, he might have fired up that “demographic” and won the US presidency. I believe he knew it too. But he was too good and decent a man to go so low.

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Deshawn Swasey

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