In their dealings with African and Maya people over the last five plus centuries, the European peoples have generally been brutal, oppressive, and exploitative. Quite intelligently, the Europeans eventually decided to put a face on the force they were using against non-European peoples. In the beginning, the force was naked. The force was originally designed to terrorize the “natives” and assure their abject capitulation. After the force achieved its objective, the conqueror/imperialist could resort to the use of religion and various public relations devices to deceive and divide the now subject native peoples. The sweet modern face of white supremacy has made collaborationist fools of some of us non-Europeans who thought it useless to resist the power of the colonial system. Collaboration with the Europeans was also profitable, more profitable than resistance, so maybe collaborationists were not such fools after all.
The decision in a special general meeting on Sunday by Corozal and Orange Walk cane farmers to turn down an agreement with BSI/ASR, the transnational company which owns the Tower Hill sugar factory, was an act of resistance. As such, political observers will view Sunday’s vote as favoring the Opposition People’s United Party (PUP). In no way can the vote be seen as favoring the ruling United Democratic Party (UDP), because the government had been calling for the agreement to be signed and for the grinding of sugar cane to begin.
In retrospect, it is clear that once the militant attorney, Audrey Matura-Shepherd, was allowed to speak to the special general meeting on Sunday, the odds favored a “no” vote, a rejection of the agreement. On behalf of veteran cañero and political activist, Lucilo Teck, Matura-Shepherd had filed an injunction with the Belize Supreme Court to have the Sugar Industry Control Board (SICB) set a date for the crop to begin without an agreement having to be signed between the cane farmers and BSI/ASR.
Audrey Matura-Shepherd is a Corozaleña who came to Belize City to attend Pallotti High School. Audrey not only has Mestizo ancestry and sugar cane background, she speaks fluent Spanish. When things began to heat up on Sunday in San Roman, it was all Spanish being spoken, and Matura-Shepherd was right at home. It is now important that her biography be examined and disseminated, because if you didn’t know that Matura-Shepherd is the real deal, you know now.
A columnist in this newspaper, Audrey described herself last week as a member of the “Kremandala Family.” This is somewhat self-effacing, because Audrey Matura-Shepherd is bigger than that: she was already a major player in the public affairs of Belize before Sunday in San Roman. After Sunday, it may be that the sky is the limit for Matura-Shepherd.
What we have here, you see, is an energetic, fearless, and highly intelligent lady attorney who has equally impressive credibility in Belize City and in the North. The “attorney” part is crucial, because Belize is a society where the legal profession is extremely powerful in public affairs. Matura-Shepherd has invaluable experience in Belize’s party politics which she acquired as a highly placed official in the UDP. She was editor-in-chief of the UDP newspaper for some years, and also served as a Senator.
The sensationally successful chief executive of Oceana, an environmental NGO, Audrey left Oceana once her outspoken opposition to so-called “gay rights” came under attack. She soon surfaced as the President of the Christian Workers Union (CWU), a post which opened the door for her to enter the National Trade Union Congress of Belize (NTUCB), an umbrella group of trade unions which has unlimited potential in Belize’s public affairs.
Our sources say that at Oceana, Audrey Matura-Shepherd enjoyed world-class personal security arranged by Oceana. She now needs to make sure, in this new reality, that her personal security is a priority. Audrey-Matura Shepherd has become a bone in the throat of a billionaire transnational company. She was already a bone in the throat of the ruling UDP. After Sunday, she may also be a threat to the status of the Opposition PUP.
There is nobody else in Belize who has the overall credentials Matura-Shepherd possesses for credible communications with roots Belizeans across the nation. She has torn the veil off the face of neoliberalism in the sugar industry. Audrey Matura-Shepherd has become dangerous to some powerful people. In 1957 and 1958, the Belizeans of that generation stood strong in support of the Rt. Hon. George Cadle Price when the colonial British came for him. The new face of colonialism is neoliberalism. They will come for Audrey Matura-Shepherd. The Belizean people must stand for her.
Power to the people. Power in the struggle.