BELIZE CITY, Thurs. Nov. 7, 2019– On Monday, November 4, following a brief illness, Compton Fairweather, a man who had lived his life serving Belize selflessly, passed away, leaving a legacy the likes of which has been compared to those of national heroes George Price and Philip Goldson.
Fairweather, the son of Reverend Gerald Fairweather and his wife Estelle Swasey-Fairweather, was born on March 15, 1931, in San Ignacio.
Fairweather’s parents were itinerant, and so in his youth he grew up in different districts in the then colony of British Honduras. He attended Anglican schools at St. Paul’s, Corozal; St. Peter, Orange Walk; St. Andrews, San Ignacio; and St. Michael’s College and Belize Technical College in Belize City.
Fairweather’s work life began while he was still in high school. During his high school years he conducted tours for a team of geneticists from the New York Zoological Society doing research on the wetlands of Belize.
Upon completion of his early education, Fairweather secured a job with Gulf Oil Corporation, as a geological assistant. In that position, Fairweather accompanied the crews who were searching for oil.
In addition to the early travels he had done in the country with his parents, his work for Gulf Oil also exposed him to the entire length and breadth of the country, from the Sarstoon River in the south to the Rio Hondo in the north and all of the other rivers and towns and villages.
In 1954, when Fairweather was about 23 years old, he left home and journeyed to the United States. The US, during this period, was at the height of the Cold War with the Soviet Union and Fairweather received his “greetings from the president” to serve in the US Army, but he chose the US Air Force and served in Japan and Korea.
Fairweather studied military electronics for one year while serving in the US Air Force at Biloxi, Mississippi. He received training at the Strategic Air Command, in Texas, and became a Federal Aviation Administration licensed pilot.
After serving in the Air Force, Fairweather teamed up with Samuel A. Haynes, another British Honduran who had also served in the US military, and whose focus had become nationalistic in regards to major issues relating to Belize. Haynes was also a prolific writer and penned “Land of the Gods,” the variation of which became “Land of the Free,” Belize’s national anthem.
The Haynes and Fairweather partnership led to the formation of the British Honduras Freedom Committee of New York, in mid-1966. Haynes nominated Fairweather to become the first president of the Freedom Committee, which was born out of the controversy surrounding proposals by an American lawyer, Bethuel Webster, to solve the Guatemalan claim. Webster’s proposals were viewed by Philip Goldson and other nationalists as the selling out of Belize.
The work of the Freedom Committee involved lobbying interests across the world on behalf of the country and in establishing a telephone information network to keep the people of Belize informed, wherever they were living.
The Freedom Committee of New York organized for Philip Stanley Wilberforce Goldson to address the United Nations Decolonialization Committee, on August 3, 1967. Fairweather and Goldson were the first from British Honduras to address the United Nations on behalf of the country.
The Freedom Committee was also instrumental in convincing the US authorities in Belize that naturalized Belizeans voting in Belize elections was not against US laws.
Fairweather’s New York Freedom Committee not only organized the Philip Goldson U.N. address, but also went to the aid of the South West Africa People’s Organization (SWAPO) so that they could be heard at the U.N.
The Freedom Committee also lobbied all the former British colonies on the African continent for their support for British Honduras.
The Freedom Committee approached the eminent Canadian international jurist, Louis Bloomfield, and at the request of the British Prime Minister Anthony Eden, Bloomfield wrote the most authoritative book on the Anglo-Guatemalan dispute.
Fairweather and his Freedom Committee also met for three hours with Bethuel M. Webster, the mediator who was appointed by US President Lyndon B. Johnson to mediate the Anglo-Guatemala dispute. They tried to convince Webster that his ill-conceived and biased “proposals” to settle the Guatemalan claim were doomed to fail.
The United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), under its director, Richard Helms, was also targeted by the British Honduras New York Freedom Committee. They rallied against the efforts of its operative in Belize, the US Counsel Robert Tepper, whose mission was to subvert Belize’s self-determination process. Tepper, the CIA later concluded, bungled his assignment and was dismissed.
It was not only the US CIA that was targeted by the Freedom Committee. The British Government Colonial Office and its super secretive MI6, which were both under the direction of one Sir John Rennie, appeared to want to give up sovereignty of British Honduras to the Republic of Guatemala, but the Freedom Committee stood in their way.
On the frontline, with their eyes focused on the interests of Belize, the Freedom Committee threatened the Texaco Oil Corporation with demonstrations in New York, Montreal and London, until it removed an offensive map which depicted Belize as Guatemala’s 23rd Department.
They also fought, through covert means, to neutralize a so-called “5th columnist” based in both Belize and Guatemala.
The British government later accused the Freedom Committee of being responsible for the failure of the British to cede Belize territory to Guatemala.
On a matter closer to home, Fairweather met with US syndicated columnist Jack Anderson at his Washington office to discuss with him information that he had gotten that a British Honduras minister of government had met with Louisiana mafia boss Carlos Marcello, and that there were plans to establish a mafia-controlled gambling casino in Belize.
Fairweather was a member of the International Travel Association of Travel Agents (IATA) and has taken Belizean groups to several countries, and he himself traveled to more than a dozen African countries.
Every Belizean organization has honored Fairweather for his work and contribution to the development of Belize and Belizeans. In addition to his many awards from Belizean organizations all across the US, on December 13, 1995, Fairweather was conferred with Membership of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II.
A soft-spoken, unassuming man, Fairweather deployed the skills and training he acquired as an engineer in the cultural arena when he organized the first U.S. tour for a Belizean musical group.
Fairweather pioneered and created his own record label, CES, which ended up capturing the golden era of Belizean music from the 1950s, 60s and 70s. In its heyday, CES records produced a number of 45s and LPs. CES reportedly produced 156 songs during the more than two decades when CES was involved on the music scene.
Fairweather also contributed greatly to culture with recordings of the best known Battle of St. George’s Caye celebration music, traditional folk music and skits that were written in Creole.