A couple weeks ago, we recommended to Belizeans in the United States that they begin to organize themselves as to be empowered to lobby Washington on behalf of Belize. It is well known that one of the most powerful lobbies in Washington, and the most powerful lobby from Central America, is the Guatemala lobby. We Belizeans have to find ways to weaken the clout of the ruling Guatemalan classes and increase our influence in the United States’ corridors of power.
We are sure that we have been ignored by Belizeans in the American disapora, and this is because we know how scattered Belizeans are in the States. This was the intention of the American policymakers when they opened U.S. doors to Belizeans after Hurricane Hattie in October of 1961. They wanted to absorb us, and they wanted to scatter us.
The late Guatemalan president, Ydigoras Fuentes, openly claimed that U.S. president, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, had promised to support Guatemala’s claim to Belize in return for Guatemala’s being used as the training base for Cuban exiles who invaded Cuba in April of 1961. We Belizeans didn’t know about that promise when Hattie struck in October that same year. We believed that America was doing us a great favor by offering us refuge, and we loved Uncle Sam for that. Probably, we still do.
The United States now wants the Guatemalan claim to Belize be settled in any which way, so that Uncle Sam’s oil companies can begin pumping oil and natural gas out of the land and sea between southern Belize and northeastern Guatemala. The United States’ belief was that it was the darker-skinned people of Belize who were intransigent where the claim was concerned, because of their ethnic fears. So, the black majority was reduced to a minority, beginning with the post-Hattie offer of 1961, and this must be the first case in history where a majority, willingly and happily, became a minority. We became a minority here, and we became a minority there.
Today, however, Belizeans who are not so dark, like the Maya, have complicated the Guatemala claim issue, because they prefer to be Belizeans instead of Guatemalans.
In addition, the world has changed in the last fifty years, after Rachel Carson wrote Silent Spring. There are many Americans, including powerful and influential ones, who would support Belize’s desire not to become another polluted oil field. There are many Americans who have become Belizeans. They have done so because they want Belize to remain beautiful and pristine.
It is, then, the Belizeans in the diaspora who are most wide awake in a dream. On the Guatemala claim matter, they have significant potential power. The question is, do they think the way Belizean Maya do, or the way Americans who have become Belizeans do? There is a burden of proof upon you, Belizeans in the disapora. Prove that you love The Jewel. Get real. Get organized. Make some noise.