When I left Belize to come and live in New York City in 1978, the biggest issue in Belize was George Price and his People’s United Party (PUP) travelling all over the world to try and get support for our independence. The leader of the United Democratic Party, Dean Lindo, and his members, were afraid that if we obtained independence without a defense guarantee from Great Britain, Guatemala could invade our country. The UDP held many “No Guatemala” demonstrations in Belize City that drew large crowds from all over the country.
When I arrived in New York City, Mr. Compton Fairweather was the President of an organization by the name of: “Freedom Committee”. They had officers like; Muriel Laing-Arthurs, Eddy Staine, Mr. Lloyd Pipersbugh, Ms. Leotin Lewis, Mr. Betson, Ms. Flowers, Carrie Fairweather, Keith Elrington, Hector Locke, Mr. Trapp and several other people who I cannot remember at this moment. Their main goal was to do any and everything to save Belize from a Guatemalan takeover. This was done by keeping the Belizean people informed on all the things that were taking place in Belize, Guatemala and Great Britain concerning Belize. They held meetings every Sunday at St. Mark’s Church located at Ocean Avenue in Brooklyn.
Several speakers, including myself, would come up and give speeches as to why we must love our country and do what we can to save it from Guatemala despite the fact that we live in the United States. When Guatemala stepped up its claim in the 1970’s and threatened to invade Belize, this committee organized demonstrations in front of the Guatemalan Embassy in Manhattan to alert the world about their aggression.
Many NIP and UDP Politicians came from Belize to give speeches at their meetings. At the end of the meetings the members gave donations to send to Belize to assist the Belizean organizations that were a part of the “No Guatemala Movement”. Food and refreshments were served at all meetings before the members went home.
Mr. Fairweather later established a “Belize News” on a taped telephone message to call every Tuesday midnight of the week. Belizeans from New York City and all over the United States would call to get the news, death announcements, parties and other upcoming Belizean events. Many Belizeans looked forward to calling the tape number before they went to bed. This news service lasted until the early 2000’s when Mr. Fairweather made the decision to go back home and live. Belizeans were not happy when he left because they depended on this news source for all their news, upcoming events and death announcements.
General Elections were scheduled for November the 21, 1979 and the PUPs had their minds made up that if they won the election with a huge margin, they were going to continue their drive for independence. The PUP won the elections of 1979 by winning 13 out of the 18 seats. This was a huge margin of victory and even the UDP Opposition Leader Dean Lindo was defeated in that election which resulted in his resignation as party leader.
Doctor Theodore Aranda became the new leader and was invited to New York City to give an update on the talks between Great Britain, Guatemala and Belize regarding independence. Belize became independent on September 21, 1981 and after independence, the Freedom Committee began to decline. Many Belizeans believed that once our independence was obtained, our people and country will be safe from Guatemala.
The late Philip Goldson, who I continue to admire as a true Belizean National Hero, was the only Belizean politician that I heard saying on several occasions that if Great Britain does not grant Belize a defense guarantee, Guatemala will continue to claim Belize. His words were true then and now. It is now left for us to see if the International Court of Justice (ICJ) will resolve the dispute between Great Britain and Guatemala over our territory of Belize permanently.
I consider Compton Fairweather to be a Nationalist Belizean. A man who really loved his people and country and did all that he could have possibly done, to try and convince other Belizeans to do the same. He was honored by our country of Belize for his service. It is because of people like him, the late Belizean International Lawyer and Jurist Edward Laing, Curl Thompson, Philip Goldson and my late grandfather Simeon Marcus Sampson, that I decided to commit myself to do Belizean activism.
Many of our Belizean people are only proud to be Belizeans but have not committed themselves to do something of significance for our country. There is still time left for all Belizeans to follow in Mr. Compton Fairweather’s and other nationalistic Belizeans footsteps. If they do then our country of Belize will become a much better place for us to live for generations to come. May his soul rest in peace and his contributions and accomplishments be cherished by us. We need more Belizean Nationalists to save our people and country, Belize.