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Thursday, June 24, 2021
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Flood flies halted war

I don’t own the book, The Caste War of Yucatán, by Nelson Reed, so I’m off the hip here when I say the cry was “Shekanic”, in what must be the most fascinating withdrawal from the battlefields, ever. According to the story, there was a point during the War of Races when our Mayan brothers had our Spanish and Ladino brothers with their backs against the wall, but instead of pushing their advantage and forcing them to surrender, they turned away and headed home, to sow di corn.

We’re in the month of May, and traditionally in these parts the men who plant the fields, a few with the assistance of their women, will be getting ready to sow the corn. I’m no expert milpero, but I’ve noticed that most farmers get out their dibble sticks before the big rains come. The point here is that when the cry went out when the flood flies swarmed, as they always do after the first big rains, the corn seeds should have been in the ground already, so the brothers on the war front were late. Sowing the corn seed a little late would have meant a much reduced crop, but why do you walk away from the battlefield when victory is yours if you go forward? Of course, religion is tied into this story, but it might be that they didn’t realize that victory was so close at hand.

Turning to battles on the home front, in this century the unions were at their strongest in 2005. In 2021 the unions are still strong, but their wallop is reduced because of Covid-19, the critical state of our finances, and on top of that, the “newness” of our government.

Organized labor is not alive for farm workers down south. On the rehash, when I went to work at Belize Food Products Ltd. at Alta Vista in the Stann Creek Valley back in 1983, the company’s workers, who were represented by UGWU, were about deciding on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) with the company. These battles were legendary, grand theater.

I’d been at the company maybe not more than a month when I saw the farm manager, my direct boss, Brother Natividad Obando, driving off mid-morning in his Toyota to the showdown in Dangriga. I was told to not expect him back until night, but he returned shortly after lunch. I gathered from him that the unionists were not out for a fight; they readily agreed to roll over the old CBA.

Hurricane Greta hit the Stann Creek District in 1978, and citrus took a bad blow, which was exacerbated by a number of years of down prices. In 1983 much of the groves were still covered by re-rooting vine, a weed that blankets the trees like scorn-the-earth and thus substantially reduces yields. In mid-1983 the entire citrus industry was in survival mode. Ah, had the union’s leaders postponed the CBA they might have gotten a better deal for their workers, for in December 1983 Florida froze over and the price of citrus concentrate on the world market shot up.

I believe the last strike in the citrus industry was near La Democracia. A News5 report says the strike was in the year 2000, and I picked up from the journalist who did the story, Ms. Janelle Chanona, that the workers weren’t members of a union.

El Salvador’s Bukele

El Salvador’s president, Nayib Bukele, has said that his country is “cleaning house”, and it’s none of our business, and about it not being our business, he is partly wrong because not only are we all members of the earth race, his country is right next door to us, and many El Salvadorans call Belize home because of the 1980s civil war there. But we can’t be too critical about how he carries out his job, because our troubles are small compared to theirs. Wow, 6.5 million people in a country smaller than Belize!

2017 statistics from ourworldindata.org shows that Belize had a population density of 16 persons per square kilometer, China had 148 persons per square kilometer, India had 450 persons per square kilometer, and El Salvador, wow, had 308 persons per square kilometer. Get the sense; we’re talking different worlds here.

When the pandemic struck, Bukele completely ignored Trump, Boris Johnson, and AMLO in their waiting game and moved immediately to lock down his country, with measures to take care of their most needy citizens. That guy, he is a bold one; he is pragmatic; he is disdainful of the court which ordered him to stop detaining people who violated curfew regulations; and he’s got a lot of people worried because he is mashing kaan, cleaning house.

A couple weeks ago, the US expressed serious concern when he took control of the judiciary. teleSur said: “In the first session of the newly-elected Legislative Assembly Sunday, El Salvador’s ruling party wiped out the entire judiciary: the judges of the Constitutional Chamber, the Supreme Court and Attorney General Raul Melara were all fired.”

The story from teleSur said U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken had called Bukele to express concern, and that Blinken said “Democratic governance requires respecting the separation of powers for the good of all Salvadorans.” Ah, teleSur noted that the “dismissals were approved by 64 votes against 19.”

Matt Charles, in a May 15th story titled, “ ‘We’ve tried democracy and it failed’: Adoring El Salvadorians swoon over their millennial dictator,” which I found on Yahoo (it was reproduced from The Telegraph), wrote that the outside world is shocked by the actions of Bukele, but inside El Salvador his popularity can’t stop growing, his approval rating soaring “as high as 91%.”

“Bukele is one of us. He’s a man of the people,” Omar Ticas, a 32-year-old telephone salesman told The Telegraph. “If what we had before him was democracy, well, democracy isn’t working for us. We need something harder.” I don’t know who can quarrel with Mr. Ticas. If you have 50, 40, 30, 20 homicides per 100,000 people, you’re not living in a democracy, you’re a people living in fear.

Charles said Bukele “has introduced permanent military patrols, has endorsed the use of lethal force by security forces and has increased solitary confinement in prisons”, measures that have helped cause homicides in El Salvador to fall from 50 per 100,000, to 19. Charles says the president’s opponents charge that the reduction in homicides partly came about through a secret pact he has with the country’s most powerful gang, but Bukele says that da lai.

Trinidad under curfew; in Italy, jabs are spectacular

Covid-19 cases have shot up so high in Trinidad and Tobago that Prime Minister Keith Rowley’s government has introduced some strong measures to halt the spread. Carolyn Kissoon in Trinidad’s Sunday Express, reported that T&T was going under a state of emergency, with curfew, after the country had 21 deaths in 24 hours last Thursday and “nine deaths on Friday, along with 565 new cases.”

As of May 14 in T&T, only 4.3% of their population had gotten the first jab, only 0.1% had been fully vaccinated, while over in Italy, Reuters reports that researchers in that country found that “Covid-19 infections in adults of all ages fell by 80% five weeks after a first dose of Pfizer (PFE.N), Moderna (MRNA.O) or AstraZeneca (AZN.L) vaccine.” Wow, Italy reports that “35 days after the first dose, there is an 80% reduction in infections, 90% reduction in hospitalizations, and 95% reduction in deaths.” Step up and get your jab!

Hmm, big respect to the UN for its strong call for a ceasefire between Hamas and Netanyahu the warmonger. I won’t comment more than that right now, because I’ve run out of space. Hmm, I got the same problem with an excerpt from my book today.

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