Editorial — 20 October 2018
Changing economy, changing times …

But America was not heartless, the agents added, and in exchange for acceptance of Washington’s latest peace offer they promised the Indians acreage, farm tools and seed, and protection against any tribes who took exception to these new agricultural pursuits.

The Sioux were naturally resistant. Living in houses, tilling fields, sending their children to school – these were white man’s values and principles.

( – pg. 226, THE HEART OF EVERYTHING THAT IS: The Untold Story of Red Cloud, An American Legend,

by Bob Drury and Tom Clavin, Simon & Schuster, 2013

By the mid-1860s, the traditional buffalo ranges along the Republican River were already dwindling, not least because of the first white hunting parties converging on the droves from new settlements in Missouri, Kansas, and eastern Nebraska. A solitary hunter equipped with an accurate large-bore Sharps rifle could fell up to 100 buffalo in a single stand, and this technology marked the beginning of a Plains-wide slaughter that within four decades would reduce an estimated 30 million animals to less than 1,000. It was the greatest mass destruction of warm-blooded animals in human history, far worse than what the world’s whaling fleets had already accomplished, and as Sitting Bull was to lament years later, “A cold wind blew across the prairie when the last buffalo fell. A death wind for my people.”

When whites killed the buffalo, the animals were skinned where they fell, everything but their hides and tongues left to rot on the prairie. The hunters considered the meat worthless, but to the tribes this was not only a criminal physical waste, but a blasphemous affront to the animals’ spirits, to Mother Earth, to the Sacred Hoop of life itself.

( – pgs. 183, 184, ibid.)

The economy of Belize has experienced, we submit, two dramatic changes since modern party politics began in British Honduras in 1950. The mainstream economy here in 1950 was based on the extraction of mahogany and other hardwoods, and chicle, from the forests for exportation to Great Britain and the United States.

It was specifically to work in the woodcutting industry that African slaves had been imported into the Settlement of Belize in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and early nineteenth century. By 1950, the colony’s forestry resources were dwindling, and Belizean workers were travelling abroad, to Panama, Guatemala, and the United States in search of work.

The Mayans and Mestizos of the villages in the Corozal and Orange Walk Districts had been farming food crops, as had the Creole people in the villages of the Belize River Valley and along the banks of the Sibun. But agricultural pursuits here were of a subsistence nature. Along the coastline of British Honduras, from Sarteneja down through San Pedro Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker, past Gales Point Manatee and Mullins River down south through Hopkins, Tobacco Caye, Sittee, Placencia, Monkey River, and Barranco, Belizeans were fishing the bountiful waters of the colony, but our marine pursuits were also of a subsistence nature.

 At some point in the late 1950s or early 1960s, an American visitor/investor by the name of Dvorak began exporting Belize lobster to the United States, so marine work began to move from purely subsistence to an industrial level. The same thing happened in Corozal and Orange Walk agriculture with the expansion and modernization of the sugar industry under the anti-colonial People’s United Party (PUP) in the early and middle 1960s.

When these changes in the Belizean economy were taking place, the descendants of the original African slaves were still the large majority of the population. Over the centuries, however, the black population had been urbanized. They were culturally resistant to farming, and hesitant to commit to fishing. In those days before 1961’s Hurricane Hattie led to mass migration to the U.S., Belizeans generally did not appreciate the special nutritional value of fish, and were more fascinated with beef and chicken, Today, the market for fish is a huge one in Belize, because that market has been much enlarged by the overnight and cruise ship tourists.

In any case, the lobster and sugar industries began to change the Belizean economy in the 1960s, while the seeds for tourism, which would introduce the next dramatic change in the Belizean economy three and four decades later, were being planted at San Pedro Ambergris Caye. The doors to tourism in Belize did not begin to open wide, however, until there was the first change of national government. Manuel Esquivel’s United Democratic Party (UDP) began Belize’s embrace of tourism on coming to power in December of 1984.

When Belize’s urban black population began mass migration to the United States in the 1960s, it was not only because the American economy was booming and because civil rights legislation was opening up job opportunities for black people: it was because black Belizeans did not want to farm or to fish. Things have changed. The fact of the matter is that the Belizean politicians have committed us to tourism, a clean-hands service industry. Apart from that, America is not a place which coddles older people. The original migrants from Belize have aged, and a significant amount have returned to Belize, quietly, and many have built retirement homes in locations outside of Belize City and the Belize District.

At the same time, Belize has become home to many Americans and other foreigners who have decided to live/retire here. Outside of Belize City, The Jewel’s socio-economic landscape has changed. We have said to you before that diaspora Belizeans and Americans who have become Belizeans have a strategically important role to play in our fight to preserve our Jewel. Belize needs to organize Belize lobbies in Washington, the political capital of the United States; in Los Angeles, the Belizean population center in the U.S.; and in New York City, America’s financial capital, as soon as possible. Geopolitics is on our side here. Belize is only a few hundred miles away from the continental United States, planet earth’s superpower.

There is an unbelievable slaughter of human beings which has been going on in Yemen. Yemen is a very poor Middle Eastern country which is mostly Shiite Muslim. The slaughter of Yemenis is being carried out by Sunni Muslim Saudi Arabia, the richest country in the Middle East because of their fabulous petroleum reserves. These petroleum reserves make the Saudis such a precious American ally that the Saudi monarchy believed they could get away with murdering a Saudi citizen, a columnist for one of the most prestigious American newspapers – The Washington Post, inside the Saudi Embassy in the Turkish capital of Istanbul.

Yemen is many thousands of miles away from the United States. There is no Yemen lobby in America. If the American people, generally speaking, knew of the slaughter going on in Yemen, they would become angry on humanitarian grounds. Belize has to make sure the American people know of our situation. As it is, the Guatemalan government is treated as an intimate ally by the American government, and the Guatemalans have had a very powerful lobby in Washington for many decades. Belize, it won’t be of any use for us to plead with the Trump government: we have to go direct to the American people. It can be done. We have an American population in Belize; we have diaspora Belizeans in America; and we are right on America’s doorstep.

In the United States in the nineteenth century, the Sioux, the Cheyenne, the Apache, and other Plains Indians, did not want to farm and ranch on lands divided by fences: they wanted to hunt the buffalo and other wild game on the open ranges of the American West. The Plains Indians fought heroically, but they were overcome by waves of Americans, European immigrants moving inexorably west across the Mississippi.

In Guatemala, waves of European immigrants have subjugated the Indigenous peoples who originally inhabited this area of the world. We Belizeans are basically an Indigenous people, and we would instinctively identify with the Indigenous people of Guatemala if we knew and understood their plight. But the American government has been insisting since 1968 that we ally our Belizean selves with the European immigrants who have subjugated and murdered Indigenous Guatemalans. Unless we Belizeans can inform the American people sufficiently, the American people will support Washington’s foreign policy blindly when it comes to the Guatemala/Belize differendum, or whatever.

Power to the people.

Related Articles

Share

About Author

Deshawn Swasey

(0) Readers Comments

Comments are closed.