Editorial — 15 September 2018
Belize: innocent and bogus at the same time

Mr. R. Saldivar spoke on an occasion of a night in late December, 1979, when a plane from Belize Air Cargo flew out from the International Airport at 4 a.m., a time when the airport was cloudy. The report, Mr. Saldivar said, was substantiated by the night watchman of the airport who was alerted when the lights of the runway were suddenly switched on at 4 a.m. At this time a large aircraft was approaching the runway from the apron. The airplane got onto the runway and the lights were switched off.

There was no way these lights could have been turned on except from the control tower, said Mr. Saldivar. He stated that the tower was closed from the previous evening, but explained of a way through which entrance could be gained. Suspected to have turned on the runway lights was one Traffic Control Officer Weatherburn. The watchman could not confirm this because all he saw after the plane was airborne was the lights of a speeding vehicle leaving the apron of the airport.

Weatherburn, said Mr. Saldivar, has been in close contact from time to time with A.S.P. Gillett and he strongly believes that they both know of illegal activities happening at the airport with various aircrafts. My men and I departed the airport at 1150 hours and up to that time Oren Owlinger and party had not returned to the airport from Belize City.

Undoubtedly Mr. Saldivar is concerned over the happenings around the airport concerning illegal trafficking and violation of our airport rules by pilots, particularly in the light that he gets little support from the Control Board.

He strongly believes that from time to time A.S.P. Gillett is informed of these illegal activities and does nothing about it. Lingering in his mind is why.    

(Signed, February 18, 1980)
K. B. Hamilton, A.S.P.
Commandant, Belize Training School   

Watching television footage this week of Southside black youth packed in a holding cell at the Queen Street Police Station (they had been packed like that for more than a week), and listening to a description of their condition inside the cell by the attorney Audrey Matura, we had a flashback of imagination to how it was for our slave ancestors crossing the Atlantic Ocean in the dark bellies of British slave ships. It was, of course, worse, much worse, for our slave ancestors during the months of the so-called Middle Passage. But, the bottom line here is that this week’s television footage was September of 2018, and yes, these were Belizean human beings who were being treated worse than animals.

There were other Belizeans, in positions of power and authority, who had made the decisions which created the inhumane conditions, and these Belizeans have said that they believed that they were doing the right thing, that they had no choice but to impose last Tuesday’s state of emergency on the Southside of Belize City. They had no choice because things were getting out of hand, as elected leaders and their security forces would say, and they had to save the September celebrations.

The September celebrations, mind you, are supposed to be patriotic exercises, intended to remind us Belizeans of how far we have come as a people – from slavery, oppression, and colonialism, to self-government and political independence, from “British subjects” to Belizean jewels.  Early in our 2018 September celebrations, our leaders decided they had to do to some of our youth what we saw on the television news this week.

It is important to remember that these will be three or four extraordinary weeks, in that those youth were, ordinarily, functioning inside the daily matrix of Belize City before the state of emergency, and they will return to function in the old capital, prominently, when the state of emergency is ended, as it will be when the celebrations are ended.

It was, perhaps coincidentally, perhaps ironically, that it was during the state of emergency declared in Belize City on Tuesday, September 4, by the governing Cabinet in Belmopan, and signed into law by the Governor-General, Dr. Sir Colville Young, that the security forces of Belize finally caught a drug plane, compete with cocaine cargo, on Sunday night, September 9, in the area of the Mennonite community of Blue Creek in the Orange Walk District. The thing is that, since late last year, nine such cocaine planes had landed and discharged their spectacularly valuable cargoes, intended for the Mexican territory and, ultimately, the United States, without any real resistance from the security forces of Belize.

Before we proceed, let us be clear. This essay is not about party politics. For more than four decades, whichever of Belize’s two major parties is in power has essentially been in control of the drug trade. In the republics around us, like Mexico, Guatemala, and Honduras, it is understood by all and sundry that it is inside of the ruling party, whichever it is, that the drug trade is arranged, controlled, monitored, taxed, etc. etc.  In Belize, many of our respectable citizens are innocent to these realities, and those of our respectable citizens who are partisan will not accept that their respective leaders are bogus, criminals in fact, if we are to read the law literally. With respect to the drug trade, Belize is innocent and bogus at the same time.

The multimillionaire businessman, Robert Sydney Turton, was a gangster in that he was involved in bootlegging alcohol to the United States during the time of Prohibition (1919-1933). Turton was instrumental in organizing and financing the original People’s United Party (PUP). Turton did not see himself as a gangster: he was a businessman. The American people wanted to drink alcohol, but their”goody-two-shoes” leaders had outlawed it. There was therefore a lucrative market in the United States for alcohol. Businessmen live by the market realities.

The situation is similar with cocaine today. The American people want to snort and smoke cocaine, but their leaders have outlawed such activities. We have gangsters in Belize who assist foreign gangsters, such as the Mexican cartels, to move cocaine in airplanes from South America through Belize to Mexico, and ultimately, the United States.

Belizeans in the ruling party’s leadership and some of our security officials are paid by Belize’s gangsters to turn a blind eye when cocaine planes are landing. Some politicians and security officials participate in the process more actively, especially when there is a logistical problem of sorts. Such is accepted as a way of life by Belizeans in the streets. Whichever political party is in power, controls the drugs. This is real.

When it comes to respectable Belizeans, however, the only kind of gangsters they can see is “Crips and Bloods.”Such respectable Belizeans are innocent Belizeans. There are bogus Belizeans who are very wealthy gangsters. They can hire expensive attorneys, and call on politicians or police officials to help in emergencies. These bogus Belizeans can donate to the churches and charities of their choices. Belize, beloved, is innocent and bogus at the same time.

We would say that it is clear what the root of the problem is: Americans, who are possibly the world’s wealthiest population, want to use drugs which their government has outlawed. So Americans, comprising the most lucrative market in the world, pay a lot of money to gangsters in order to have cocaine made available to them in the United States for their consumption and enjoyment.

But, we Belizeans do not have to participate in these activities which have been declared criminal both in the United States and in Belize. There is no gun at our head forcing us to traffic in drugs. The reason we do so is because we want to enjoy a higher standard of living than our Belizean economy can afford. We want to live higher than our means.

At the base of Belize’s socio-economic pyramid, however, there are youth who begin lives of crime because they are desperately, physically hungry. Foreign missionaries tell such youth they should turn to Jesus, and try being “born again.” Spiritual Rastafarians advise the youth to put down the gun and praise Jah God. But once you are inside a process which has been feeding you, as the gangs do, opportunities for promotion and advancement open up: you can become a don, at which point you become a ruler, in control of the human lives of others. Not only that, you know all who are bogus, who give donations to churches, and who sing hip, hip, hurray.

Belizeans, back there in the nineteenth century some of our ancestors began to become religious fanatics. Our ancestors were taught that their church could do no wrong, and they learned to overlook the transgressions of their clergy. In the middle of the twentieth century, some Belizeans began becoming political fanatics. They were taught that they had to be absolutely loyal to the party, whether the party was right or wrong. This became the political culture of the majority of Belizeans, whether they were blue or red. Material benefits, even food itself, often depended on the success of our political party, and because of the pressure upon us, we became fanatics.

So then, it has not been our intention in this editorial to criticize ourselves, to flagellate ourselves as Belizeans. At this newspaper, nevertheless, it has always been our commitment to call a spade a spade, as the saying goes. In September of 2018, we are in a great uproar emotionally as a people. The things which continue happening around us sometimes seem unbelievable. If you read and understand Naomi Klein, however, you will see that the likelihood is that many of these things happening around us are being orchestrated. They are being orchestrated by enemies of our people who want The Jewel for themselves.

The months ahead will establish whether we have indeed become a strong, unified people, or whether we will be scattered like chaff to the winds. We have believed at this newspaper that it is always of the greatest importance to know the facts, to embrace truth and reject falsehood.

In the beginning, we must be true to ourselves. Along the road, we must be true to each other. Then, and thusly, in the end we will sing together in the words of our great poet: “God’s goodness gave this land to me, to honor and to love…”

Power to the people.

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Deshawn Swasey

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