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Sunday, February 23, 2020
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Change and deception

The Belizean people cannot allow our ruling politicians to impugn the motives and malign the characters of Wil Maheia, the Belize Territorial Volunteers (BTV), the Northern Territorial Volunteers (NTV), and the Sarstoon/Temash Institute for Indigenous Management (SATIIM). The fact of the matter is that these brave Belizeans made the point, for all of us to see, that our nation-state of Belize was experiencing the violation of our sovereignty and territorial integrity at the Sarstoon River.

Since independence, there has been an attempt to drug the Belizean people with cable television, various kinds of narcotics, wild concerts, casino gambling, and violence glorified. Our Belizean culture has been transformed before our very eyes. Meanwhile, the proliferation of electronic media, video appliances, super telephones, and social media have been mixed blessings in that they have surely reduced the amount of time we spend physically mingling with each other.

In our pre-independence culture, we were able to mobilize quickly when undesirable developments took place on the foreign affairs (read, “Guatemala”) front. Such developments included the Thirteen Proposals in 1966, the Seventeen Proposals in 1968, and the Heads of Agreement in 1981. The Belizean people took to the streets. You will note that when the Maritime Areas Act controversy took place in 1991, ten years after independence, the Belizean people were confused. Hon. Philip Goldson, in desperation, had to leave the United Democratic Party (UDP) and form the National Alliance for Belizean Rights (NABR).

Today, the Belizean people are even more confused, and in fact divided in several different ways. You can look at the different reactions of the Belizean people pre-independence and post-independence, as we have contrasted in the previous paragraph, and you can find different reasons to argue why this is so. But we surely can agree that what has been happening at the Sarstoon River – naked, continued Guatemalan aggression, would not have been taking place pre-independence without sparking uproars in the streets of Belize City. Our Belizean culture has been transformed before our very eyes. At this newspaper, we believe this transformation to have been a process which was designed, deliberate, and calculated. But, that is a separate argument.

There are individuals and families in the leaderships of both the ruling UDP and the Opposition People’s United Party (PUP) who are extremely wealthy and who have a lot to lose if there is a shakeup in the socio-political-economic framework of Belize. For these fortunate Belizeans, the status quo, in a sense, is sacred. That may be fair enough, you know, but we have seen the status quo change recently to incorporate Guatemalan aggression/possession at the Sarstoon, and the PUDP have accepted that changed status quo. With Foreign Minister Carlos Raul Morales as their spokesman, the Guatemalans have gotten in the thin edge of the wedge. Which of you can deny that?

The benefit of electronic media in the Sarstoon scenario is that the Belizean people have been able to see a substantial part of the critical action. We have seen enough to know that there is a huge disconnect between what we are seeing and what our government leaders are saying. The Belizean people have not been able to figure out why some of the same families which stood for Belizean sovereignty and territorial integrity in the pre-independence era are now represented in the ruling UDP and singing a different song in 2015/2016. Something has changed. This is the rub. What is it that has changed?

The change, beloved, began in September of 1973 when the UDP was established. At the time, the Hon. Philip Goldson was the only Opposition member in the House of Representatives, and he was a full-fledged national hero who had been jailed for sedition as a PUP leader in 1951 and had led the “No Guatemala” fight as National Independence Party (NIP) Leader in the 1960s. The intention of the UDP founders was to replace Mr. Price’s PUP in office, but it is now clear beyond a shadow of a doubt that they believed it was necessary to replace Mr. Goldson as Leader in order to defeat the PUP. The thing is, in replacing Mr. Goldson, the new UDP leaders also changed his teachings, the centerpiece of which was rejection of the Guatemalan claim and Guatemalan aggression.

When the UDP was formed, in the absence of Mr. Goldson (he was studying law in London), Mr. Goldson was so popular that the UDP could not announce that Mr. Dean Lindo was the new Leader of the Opposition. Only UDP insiders knew for sure what had taken place. On foundation, the new UDP declared that they were anti-communist and wanted to emphasize economic development instead of the Guatemalan claim. This is exactly what Washington and Guatemala City wanted. The change had begun.

In the years immediately after the PUP lost office for the first time in 1984, Rt. Hon. George Price, in good faith, gave his political blessing to Glenn Godfrey and Ralph Fonseca. Thus began the fundamental change in the PUP from roots social justice to corporate neoliberalism.

In both the cases of the UDP and the PUP, the changes in perspective and philosophy were democratically effected. In both cases, there was a certain amount of deception involved. At the UDP’s foundation, the majority of its supporters would have considered themselves loyal to Mr. Goldson. When Messrs. Godfrey and Fonseca, accompanied by Said Musa, changed the PUP in the middle and late 1980s, the vast majority of PUP supporters believed that PUP business was continuing as per usual. Remember, Mr. Price was not publicly replaced as PUP Leader until 1996. But, the changes had begun taking place from ten years before.

Change is, of course, a constant of the human condition. Change is a sign of life. Change expresses dynamism. Change is a feature of growth. The basic proposition that Belizeans wanted and deserved to be a sovereign, independent nation with all our territory intact, was, however, a proposition that was to be inviolate and unchangeable. This is a core proposition. It is the constitutional bedrock of The Jewel. To change that core proposition is to begin the destruction of The Jewel. Long live Belize.

Power to the people. Remember Danny Conorquie. Honor Staff Sgt. Richard Lambey. Big up, Wil Maheia. Salute SATIIM.

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