Editorial — 27 October 2018
How cynical is that?

A color centerfold photograph in the International Nickel Company (INCO) annual report shows Guatemalan President Carlos Arana on a tour of the rich nickel deposits in the hills surrounding the Lake Izabal area.

According to the U.S. Department of the Interior, nickel is one of the 13 basic raw materials required by an industrialized society. Its qualities of strength at extreme temperatures and its resistance to corrosion make it a prime candidate as an alloy with other metals – particularly in the production of stainless steel. As modern machines are built to run faster and faster and are submitted to greater stress, the need for higher quality steels and super-alloys increases. Whereas a four-engine piston powered plane required about 125 pounds of nickel, a modern jet requires 4000 pounds.  

These qualities, along with the metal’s application in the manufacture of a wide variety of armaments and weapons delivery systems, led the Defense Department to qualify nickel as being the closest to a true “war metal.” In fact, the history of nickel is marked by price peaks and production expansion closely coincident with wars.  

One additional factor helps give nickel its “strategic” quality: seven industrialized nations – the United States, Great Britain, Japan, West Germany, France, Italy and Sweden – account for over 90 percent of the capitalist world’s consumption, yet none of these countries has substantial nickel reserves within its borders. The United States, the world’s largest consumer, imports over 90 percent of its nickel.

( – pg. 151, GUATEMALA, published by the North American Congress on Latin America, 1974)

We have said to you that the problem in the American West which came to a genocidal head in the nineteenth century was that the Plains Indians who were native to the land were committed to being hunter/gatherers on the open range. The various free-roaming tribes did not want to become farmers and ranchers. So the native tribes were forced to defend lands they considered their own from inexorably encroaching European immigrants, who wanted to farm, ranch, and yes, mine for valuable metals and precious minerals. As a consequence of the Indians being defeated, the United States of America, a white supremacist entity, was able to exploit all the resources of the American West inside of an economic system which is sometimes described as a military/industrial complex. One way of life, that of the European immigrants, triumphed over another way of life, that of the Plains Indians.

In the republic of Guatemala, there were Indigenous peoples, who were referred to as Indians, or Indios, in the past, who cherished their traditional, pastoral, non-industrial way of life. The various European immigrants who entered/invaded Guatemala looked at life, and the land of Guatemala, differently. The European immigrants wanted to concentrate on producing for regional and international export markets. The European immigrants wanted to become wealthy. Money was their god. This was a fight between Guatemala’s immigrants and the country’s Indigenous people for ownership and control of the land. As in North America, the European immigrants won, and the Indians were forced to work on their farms, on their ranches, in their factories and in their mines.

Consider the products which a developed, industrialized society produces. Such societies manufacture steel, cars, trucks, tractors, refrigerators, washing machines, dryers, computers, telephones, air conditioners, television sets, and so on and so forth. The developed, industrialized societies of the world manufacture these commodities in such bulk that they have to depend on natural resources as manufacturing components which are located in countries outside of their national borders: they have exhausted their own natural resources. In the case of Europe, the continent which overall is the most powerful in the world, they never did have many natural resources. That is why the Europeans had to come out from Europe and invade Africa, Asia and the Americas five centuries and more ago.

You will note that the manufactured products we cited in the previous paragraph are all very expensive where their unit prices are concerned, especially when you compare their prices to the unit prices of the commodities a poor country like Belize produces, such as sugar, citrus, bananas, marine products, and so on. In addition, you will note that the products of the industrial world feature metals and other materials which are extremely hard, and have to be dug out of the earth, mined that is.

We have not even mentioned petroleum, as a mineral which has to be dug out of the earth and out of the sea. Petroleum is indispensable to the running of all these machines which are of a productive or commodity nature. And, we have not even mentioned the war making machines of the industrialized world, machines such as ships, submarines, tanks, motorized transports, helicopters, jet aircraft, missiles, and so on and so forth. The manufacture of all these require natural resources which have to be obtained from countries outside the industrialized world.

So that, you can begin to understand what happened in Europe, and Eastern Europe, where World War I (1914-1918) and World War II (1939-1945) were concerned. The two most prominent antagonists in those bloody wars, which were England and Germany, needed to control the natural resources of Africa and Asia in order to feed their impressive factories with raw materials. The other countries in those wars – France, Italy, Japan, the United States, and Russia in World War II, were also industrialized nations fighting to control territories outside of their national borders to assure their supplies of natural resources. Of course, apart from the supplies of natural resources, there is the matter of obtaining these resources at the lowest possible prices in order to maximize corporate and national profit margins.

Now that we have set the world table, so to speak, let us sit down to a plate of Belizean food. Down the road, Toledo is unquestionably the richest District in Belize. Just south of Toledo is the Bay of Amatique, what our older fishermen used to call the Gulf of Honduras. The potential there is unlimited. Belize’s Chiquibul Forest in the Cayo District is a fabulously wealthy rain forest. In the Chiquibul, in Toledo, and in the Bay of Amatique, we are talking about gold, dolomite, uranium, petroleum, nickel, and so on and so forth. These are some materials for which the industrialized world is in a chronic state of thirst. Pencil in the names of the American corporations on Wall Street in New York City.

These materials are considered even more valuable by corporations and countries when their supply is reliable and their cost is cheap. This is why, for instance, the United States always supported military dictatorships in Central America, such as the Somozas in Nicaragua, and Ubico, Castillo Armas, Ydigoras Fuentes, et al, in Guatemala. Parliamentary democracy is too complicated a proposition to be encouraged in poor countries with incredibly valuable raw materials, with respect to the unrestricted extraction desired by rapacious corporations. This is the attitude of the politicians and the diplomats in developed societies. Classically, this is the reason Washington defends, secures, and apologizes for the shamelessly brutal royal family of Saudi Arabia: the American economy cannot operate as successfully as it does without Saudi oil.

Well now, the aforementioned discourse will provide framework for you to consider the International Court of Justice (ICJ) referendum, and why some specific, prominent, powerful Belizeans are way out on the “yes” limb. Such Belizeans have chosen to support American interests in the south of Belize, and they are being well rewarded for their support. The Special Agreement of 2008 essentially opens the door for Guatemala to control what is now Belize’s south, and that is where the natural resources sugar is located.

The question is, what about the struggling masses of us Belizeans outside of those who are on Washington’s payroll, or those who choose to accept instructions therefrom, for whatever the reason(s)? We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: Washington prefers to deal with dictators, traitors, and sellouts rather than with honest leaders. Philip Goldson, partly because of his trade union background, stood in the way in 1969, and that is why there was an attempt to remove him as NIP Leader. When that attempt failed, there was a plot in 1973 to absorb the NIP, in Mr. Goldson’s absence, within a new UDP: that is how Washington neutralized Mr. Goldson. In 2007, SATIIM (Sarstoon and Temash Institute for Indigenous Management) and Greg Ch’oc stood in the way. Where is SATIIM today?

As things now stand in October 2018, the only political leadership that is to be trusted is that of the Belize Progressive Party (BPP). How big is this game? It’s big enough that someone has given instructions to the Guatemalan military on the Sarstoon to let Belizeans through until April 10, 2019. How big is that? How sudden is that? How cynical is that?

Power to the people.

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Deshawn Swasey

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