Features — 16 March 2019
About the Father of Guatemala

Historians who are not nice – there are a few of those bigoted bums – introduce Rafael Carrera, the Father of Guatemala, as an illiterate pig farmer. When I was a boy there were no “credentials” for a fisherman, but my mother didn’t buy into that. My maternal grandfather died when I was a baby in my mother’s arms, so most everything I know about him is what my mother told me. She said he was a fisherman, a farmer, and a scholar.

My mother had an uncle who was a fisherman too. I can’t give myself any props for having the utmost respect for fisherfolk. The thanks go to the way I was brought up. I’ve been a full-time fisherman a few years in my life too.

I’ve been a fisherman, I’ve been a farmer. I’ve been a farmer who raised pigs too. One time, I had some of those bohgaz in a pen behind my house, and they broke loose. You’ve heard the term: eat like a hog. Well, when pigs are hungry you’d better not be late with the swill. I had a hole dug behind my pen, to collect their waste, and that’s where they dove when they broke loose. That’s where I had to dive too, to get them out.

I don’t mind the smell of pigs, but it’s not proper to go around people if you smell like one. It took more than one bath to get me smelling acceptable.

Yes, they, some historians, describe Carrera as an illiterate pig farmer. We are not sure if they mean he was a farmer who raised pigs, or if he really was a pig farmer. There’s a difference. There are many farms where pigs are but one component of the operation. A farmer who raises pigs will most likely also have chickens, and some livestock. Such a farmer will also have some fruit trees, and they will also be involved in some grain production. Farm animals, especially pigs, eat a lot.

If President Carrera was a pig farmer, not a farmer who had pigs, then he would have been more a businessman than a farmer. That type of “farmer” would be big in the bartering system, procuring feed at the best price, and studying the market so they got top dollar for their pork. The point is that such a farmer would spend more time in the hustling, bustling town-doing business, than on the farm.

Ah, I would have been illiterate too, if a boy had any control over his life. Huckleberry Finn did, and that’s why Tom Sawyer adored him to his soles. I hated school, and my father, who would have had a Phd if Belize had a university when he was growing up, was the hands-off type of dad. He gave little advice; he led mostly by example. The credit for what paper education I have mostly goes to my mother. She believed in consistent good counsel, with a considerable dose of physical force.

Some people believe that you can steer a child along the right path with purely cerebral methods. My mother had nine children. That’s an immense task. I had no desire to be a doctor or a lawyer. I had no desire to be rich.  Nobody could have tricked me into going to school. Only the rod could do that.

I found this website, biography.yourdictionary.com, and the historian here is not a bigoted bum. It says: “José Rafael Carrera (1814-1865) was a conservative general-president of Guatemala. He was the first of the three long-term dictator-presidents who dominated the country during the 19th century.

“Rafael Carrera was born in Guatemala City on Oct. 25, 1814, the son of parents of mixed Spanish, native, and African heritage. He was astute and intelligent, but uneducated, and he found only menial employment until a backcountry revolt gave him national stature.”

This page explains that he was against liberal governments in our region, and that he was supportive of the church and the “old aristocracy.” It says that “Carrera followed separatist and even nationalistic policies…on March 21, 1847, Carrera declared Guatemala absolutely independent… When the western departments of the country had seceded and formed a sixth Central American state, of Los Altos, in 1840, Carrera had overwhelmed its armies and abused its leaders.”

The page says, “From the president’s chair, or near it, Carrera imposed internal order and enforced the tranquility of conformity. He ameliorated Guatemala’s position with foreign creditors and improved roads and ports, particularly on the Pacific coast, but he tried without great success to diversify Guatemala’s commercial monoculture. He also allowed public education to languish.

Chief among Carrera’s accomplishments was restoration of the Church to its ancient position of power and prestige.

“Carrera was the Central American strong man during most of his tenure. He intervened repeatedly in neighboring countries to eliminate unfriendly liberal governments, and in turn he had to defend his own regime against their attacks, singly or in combination. He participated in the Central American coalition that drove William Walker from Nicaragua but took no leading role in it. In 1859 he reached with Great Britain an agreement on tenure and boundaries of Belize (British Honduras), the interpretation of which is still disputed. Carrera died on April 14, 1865.”

Print the – fact

An impeccable source informed me, re: my column last week, “Remembering Derek Aikman between 1984-1992”, that the result from the Freetown Division was actually the first one announced after the 1984 general election. I wrote, “I was drinking in my father-in-law’s bar when the election results started coming in. I don’t recall exactly when the result from Freetown was announced. I’m pretty sure it came early, but not before the trend was showing that the PUP was in real trouble.”

So, that’s the fact of that. It was THAT early, and for sure that would have indicated that it was going to be a bad night for the invincible Blue. The final score was 21-7, for the RED, and that was the beginning of a whole new world in Belize. Starting with the most surprising of it, the REDs introduced a new dress code – suit and necktie. It was so impossible to grasp why the cool guayabera went out the door, and the stuffy suit and necktie was ushered in. We didn’t know that Belize was making a move away from sea breeze, to air conditioner.

Some months ago, Mr. Aikman spoke about the groundwork that he put in to secure that improbable, no, impossible, victory. We know that for the 1984 general election there was a redistricting exercise — the seats had been expanded from 18 to 28. It is fascinating how the Father of the Nation redistricted himself out of his seat, or got himself redistricted out of his seat.

There is so much rich Belizean history that is being lost. There’s a lot of stuff there for our young scholars at UB, Galen, and SJCJC to research and elaborate on.

Anyway, Mr. Aikman earned the seat by persevering in the court and getting some voters forced out of the Freetown Division. Mr. Aikman, in his exposé, said he had to get Judge Singh out of his bed…wait, I went to the internet and found this story I wrote, titled “Sincerely Naïve”, which included a bit about that. It should be very accurate because the story was fresh in my mind when I wrote it, and I wasn’t drunk when I heard it.

“I watched much of the Zenaida Show on Krem TV last Wednesday. She had an interesting guest, Mr. Derek Aikman…Aikman said that Justice George Singh came through big time to protect the sanctity of the ballot in 1984, the year he defeated George Price. Singh got out of bed at 11 on the night before the 1984 election, to block some major PUP wikidnis. If all Aikman says is true, Justice Singh is to be congratulated,” I wrote in that article.

Freetown Drugstore better not bet the house and lot

All local sports events going on past 9:00 Saturday night will be in for stiff competition because ever since Mikey Garcia came to Belize and did some community work in Toledo and hung out with the guys at Freetown Drug Store, he is a big favorite here. He will be in some dynamite fight this weekend.

At first it wasn’t easy for this corner to figure out why Mikey Garcia, a natural junior welterweight (140 pounds), would move up to fight one of the baddest welterweights around, Errol Spence (147 pounds). If you’re a champion you have to get beat, to get beat. But there’s a reason for the different divisions in boxing. Every pound counts. Mikey Garcia could actually fight at 135, lightweight. Fighting Spence, a punishing body puncher, is a huge risk.

But a victory Saturday night could make Mikey a champion in five divisions, a rare accomplishment. The odds are against him. Mikey is confident, but I would advise Freetown Drugstore to keep their wager down. We have to hope that Mikey gets in a good lik first, and that that blow makes Spence blink. If Spence doesn’t blink, change the channel, because our fighter will be in for a very long night.

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Deshawn Swasey

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