“In 1789 the French West Indian colony of San Domingo (Haiti) supplied two-thirds of the overseas trade of France and was the greatest individual market for the European slave trade. It was an integral part of the economic life of the age, the greatest colony in the world, the pride of France, and the envy of every other imperialist nation. The whole structure rested on the labour of half-a-million slaves.
“In August 1791, after two years of the French Revolution and its repercussions in San Domingo, the slaves revolted.”
– pg. ix, Preface to the First Edition, THE BLACK JACOBINS, by C. L. R. James, Vintage Books.
“The United States, meanwhile, had emerged as a continental power that threatened British influence in the Western Hemisphere. With a population almost twice that of Britain, seemingly endless natural resources, and a hunger for growth, America would have surprised the world had it NOT outstripped Britain’s industrial might. The US economy overtook Britain’s (although not its empire overall) by about 1870 and never looked back. By 1913, Britain accounted for only 13 percent of global manufacturing output, down from 23 percent in 1880; the US, by contrast, had risen to 32 percent. Backed by a modernizing navy, Washington had begun asserting itself ever more aggressively in the Western Hemisphere. London and Washington went to the brink of war over Venezuela’s borders in 1895.”
– pgs. 62, 63, DESTINED FOR WAR, by Graham Allison, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017.
A recent presidential assassination in Haiti and then anti-government street violence in Cuba should remind us of the Monroe Doctrine, which was declared by United States president, James Monroe, in December of 1823. The Monroe Doctrine basically declared the Western Hemisphere to be United States territory, off limits to European powers.
Incidents as dramatic as what transpired in Haiti and Cuba do not occur without the knowledge, so to speak, of the United States, which is considered by some scholars to be planet earth’s superpower. Cuba and Haiti fall directly within the military orbit of the U.S., which has a war arsenal of 6,000 nuclear missiles, besides their fighter jets, bombers, battleships, submarines, and so on and so forth.
So too does Belize fall within the American military orbit. Thus, it is possible, especially in retrospect, to see the “achievement” of self-government for British Honduras in January of 1964, as the beginning of transfer of hegemony over Belize from the United Kingdom to the United States. It may be argued that Belize could not achieve political independence until the U.S. gave its assent to the upgrade in our “self-rule” in late 1980 during the final months of the administration of President Jimmy Carter.
In 1962, the United States hosted a conference in Puerto Rico between representatives of the United Kingdom and Guatemala to discuss the Belize question. Guatemala was continuing to claim the territory of British Honduras, despite the 1859 Treaty, “godfathered” by the United States, in which then Guatemalan president, Rafael Carrera, had recognized the borders of the British colony.
Four officials of the ruling People’s United Party (PUP) attended the Puerto Rico conference as observers, but no leader of the Opposition National Independence Party (NIP) was invited to the conference.
Hon. Philip Goldson had replaced Herbert Fuller as NIP leader in late 1961, but Goldson did not sit in the House of Representatives. Mr. Goldson had not run in the March 1961 general election, in which the PUP had won all 18 seats. Mr. Goldson sat in the Senate, where he expressed his views, as well as in his newspaper, the daily BELIZE BILLBOARD, which was the leading newspaper in the colony.
When the United States decided to mediate the dispute between Britain and Guatemala in 1966, the mediator being the American attorney, Bethuel Webster, Mr. Goldson was invited to the talks. He then held one of two NIP seats in the House, won in the general election of 1965.
I’m not sure whether the talks were held in Britain or the United States, but the proposals so alarmed Mr. Goldson, who, like the other Belize representatives, had been sworn to secrecy, that he flew home and disclosed the proposals to the Belizean public on the rostrum and in his newspaper. Street violence followed in the then capital city, Belize.
Mr. Goldson, in effect, had gone against the United States, and he paid a price for it. Suddenly, a newspaper was established by the leading businessmen of the colony to compete with Mr. Goldson’s BILLBOARD, which was the source of his financial independence and political power. This was 1967.
The following year, 1968, Bethuel Webster’s Proposals were officially released. They were almost exactly what Mr. Goldson had revealed to the Belizean people in 1966.
Then in 1969, there was a surprise challenge to Mr. Goldson’s leadership of the NIP by attorney Dean Lindo, who, after being defeated, formed his own party, the People’s Development Movement (PDM).
Mr. Goldson had spent many years in Belize’s trade union movement, and his sympathies were with roots Belizeans. Mr. Lindo, trained as an economist and lawyer, had openly right-wing views. He was supported by the leading businessmen in the Opposition.
My point is that when Mr. Lindo replaced Mr. Goldson as Leader of the Opposition, in the new United Democratic Party (UDP), there was a change in emphasis from anti-Guatemala populism to what we would refer to today as business neoliberalism. This is what Washington wanted, and that is why five terms of United Democratic Party (UDP) rule since 1984 have not improved socio-economic conditions for roots Belizeans. In fact, things have gotten worse.