Features — 10 November 2018
Bernard could have used page from Yantas’ book

Channel Seven thought the mayor of Belize City, Bernard Wagner, was out of line when he refused to go down the road a reporter was taking him, at an occasion in Belize City this week. After the mayor expressed his displeasure with the line of questioning, the Belize City Council’s public relations officer abruptly ended the interview.

At the Belize School of Agriculture, in 1978, our dean, Godsman Ellis, and our principal, Alfonso Tzul, thought that we should be exposed to the great men and women in our country who were leading the way in the building of the New Belize. So, we made field trips to every district, to meet the top farmers involved in the production of vegetables and fruits and grain and livestock. And every week during the second semester, a different leader in our country was brought in to speak with us.

One week, the hero was Mr. Armando Sabido, His Worship the Mayor of San Ignacio/Santa Elena. The students from that area of Cayo informed the rest of us that His Worship was known to all, was popularly known as, Yantas. The mayor was middle-aged and I assumed he got the moniker from the baggage that accrues on the bellies of older males from sedentary living brought on by laziness or injury.

I don’t know if the mayor was worth a daam at his job, if his performance on the daily grind of garbage collecting and street fixing and so forth was satisfactory to the good citizens of the twin towns. But in the realm of entertainment, the man was at the very top of the game. There wasn’t a dull moment. As they say for some people when the lights turn on, he was born fu that.

The story of municipal governance was relayed with much flavor, and on a number of occasions he had us laughing. If you had asked me for a comment on his performance, I would have given him a perfect score. We were informed, and there was not one boring moment. Yantas sailed through his presentation without a hitch – until a young man who had more exposure to the world out there than the rest of us, asked him to comment about dishonesty, the krukid dealings of politicians.

The bane of the politician is the heckler. The shield of the politician is the strategic persons he has in his entourage to defend against the egg throwers, the mud slingers. It makes perfect sense. You can’t take down a hog without going into the mud. You can’t go into the mud and come out clean. Hence, people around you to insulate you from those who would drag you into their miserable gutter. At the Belize School of Agriculture, the mayor was defenseless. Of course, he shouldn’t have needed any support staff. Young Belizean students of agriculture, in a classroom setting, really shouldn’t ask that kind of question.

For a moment there, we thought the rude enquiry had Yantas on the ropes. But the wily mayor was more than a match. “A very good question,” the mayor said, “very good question.” Then he glanced at his watch, and said: “What a pity I don’t have more time so I could answer your question.”

His reply, to say the least, was stunning. Our dean was a wise, decent man, and the mayor had emphatically declared the session ended, so in a blink he signaled to the young man designated to thank the guest speaker for sharing his time and experiences with us,and then he was on the stage alongside the mayor, to protect him from any further embarrassing assaults. The young man had barely completed his thank you speech when the dean and the mayor were down the aisle and through the door.

They could not have been too far from the hall where we gathered when, recovered from Yantas’ shocking rejoinder, like a dam broke loose we erupted into raucous laughter.

Lightning education needed in Belize

I’ve been aware of the dangers of lightning since childhood, because my mom’s cousin, Hortense DeShield, whom we knew as “Aunt Tensi”, lost a brother, Harold DeShield, to a lightning strike. Aunt Tensi said that Harold was standing in a doorway, with a hammer in his hand, when the lightning struck and killed him.

The lesson was, stay away from metal objects in a lightning storm. My lightning education didn’t go past that. I enjoyed swimming during a storm, and I felt safe riding out a storm at sea. If I had to go some place on my bike, a storm didn’t worry me. But my concern went up when I heard of a lightning strike that killed a number of Hondurans who were inside a house built on stilts in the sea. This happened in this millennium. I searched the web for the story but couldn’t find it.

I wager that Belize has lost more citizens this year to lightning strikes than at any time in her history. Maybe we are living more dangerously than we did before, but I don’t think so. My suspicion is that the lightning storms, like the hurricanes, are becoming more intense. The people at the Meteorology Department would know.

What is a fact is that we have lost more people this year to lightning strikes than ever before. We need some education from our experts, so we can better protect ourselves.

Belize City can fill Krooman Lagoon

Engineers and environmentalists will declare what they see before their eyes. Krooman Lagoon supports the drainage of Belize City. If the political leaders ask them to comment on the possibility of filling it in, and replacing it with another form of drainage, they might say yes. Then, the political leaders would look at the feasibility of such an exercise, if all is on the level.

From this layman’s eye level, there are areas of the lagoon that might be too deep to make filling feasible, at this time, but all other areas should be investigated for the possibilities.

I congratulate the Belize City Council for getting in engineers to look at the lagoon, to investigate the possibilities. Reports are that present area rep for the Collet Division, Patrick Faber, had his eye on Krooman back in 2009. But he did not pursue the initiative.

More about the faysi country that claims us

This Guatemala, of 2018, maybe if their people who voted (their 26%) to take their claim to the ICJ, and did so firmly believing that their country was legitimately wronged, maybe if they knew the truth about the country that signed the treaty with Great Britain in 1859, they would be less aggressive. The fact is that Guatemala was very happy to sign the treaty.

There were, of course, dissenting votes. There always are. Some historians have described the cart road, Article Seven of the 1859 Treaty, as a sweetener. At the time of the treaty, the British were the most powerful people on the planet. The Guatemalan leader, Rafael Carrera, was well aware that Spain was no longer a dominant force in the world. The British were. World famous diplomats that the British are, they put in the cart road to make things easier at home for their friend and ally, the pragmatic leader of Guatemala, Rafael Carrera.

I had a little trouble getting the innards of Guatemala, definite numbers, in 1859, but it was clear sailing for the year 1884. Before we go there, Jerry Enriquez, who did his research, told us in his story, “To Educate A Nation,” that in 1881 there were 27,452 people in Belize. The rest of this story, about Guatemala, is drawn from the Wikipedia.

In 1884, Guatemala had a population estimated at 1,198,500 people, but the Department of Peten, which has almost 30% of the land mass of Guatemala, had only 14,000 people, and the Department of Izabal, where we find Guatemala’s ports on the Atlantic side, had only 3,400 people. Flores, the capital of Peten, had a population of 2,200 people, while Izabal, the capital of the Department of Izabal, had 750 people. Peten and Izabal are the only two districts in Guatemala which border Belize.

We don’t have to think too hard to figure out why these districts were so sparsely populated, when compared with the rest of Guatemala. Our neighbor to the west and south is a Pacific Coast country, has always been. The Europeans who were working in Izabal were not Spaniards. They were Belgian and British. The people who lived in the Peten and Izabal weren’t Spaniards, they were Mayans, and in the case of Izabal, Mayan and Garinagu.

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Deshawn Swasey

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