This move being made from the Belize City port to Big Creek, in the first instance by sugar, is absolutely massive in its geographical and historical implications. It being the case that two of my grown sons, Mose and Cordel, are major actors in this drama, it behooves me to keep my opinions to myself and let my sons fulfill the responsibilities to which they have been assigned.
Those of you from my generation will, of course, see this as a copout on my part, but that is because you are used to seeing me as the center of controversy. My answers to that would include the fact that I did not seek leadership: it was thrust upon me in 1969, and, secondly, the fact that I was charged with a serious political crime the following year, 1970, when the group I led was not a political party, and was not involved in any kind of violent protest, only verbal criticism of the status quo.
But, space is always limited. Let it be. These few days, from July 22 and 23 (Ex-Servicemen’s 1919 insurrection in Belize Town), to August 1 (Emancipation Day, to be officially celebrated for the first time in Belize’s history), with July 26 in between (the 1953 date of the youthful Fidel Castro’s attack on the Moncada army barracks in Cuba) need some attention.
Insofar as the Ex-Servicemen’s insurrection is concerned, I believe it is fair to say that the black Belizean soldiers did not really know what to do when they found themselves in complete control of Belize Town on the night of July 22,1919.
It was important to the British colonial authorities here that the insurrection be erased from any school history here. And, so it was. In fact, and one finds this amazing, there was not even an oral history that older people would talk about into the nights while we children eavesdropped. Nothing! The insurrection never happened.
Well, it has occurred to me that language may have played a role in how things played out on July 22 and 23 in Belize Town. Mexico was at that specific time in the throes of a spectacular revolution, which had begun in 1910 when the Mexican people forced the dictator Porfirio Diaz to seek exile in Europe. A kind of chaos soon followed the election of Francisco Madero to the Mexican presidency, his murder by General Victoriano Huerta, and the emergence of popular and violent leaders like Pancho Villa and Emiliano Zapata.
If there had been a common language with which to communicate, is it not possible that the insurrectionaries in Belize Town might have made a link with the revolutionaries in the republic north of us? Probably not, because in 1919 communication and transportation were extremely slow compared to today, and Chetumal, for instance, was just a little backwoods village called Payo Obispo. Plus, the Belize Town insurrection, as powerful as it was, lasted just two days.
At the time, Venustiano Carranza was the Mexican president. Although the country remained in turmoil, Carranza ran things his own way from 1917 to 1920. (Meanwhile, there was a “world war” being fought in Europe from 1914 to 1918.) Carranza succeeded in eliminating two of his most serious opponents: the legendary Emiliano Zapata and the one Felipe Angeles, the greatest Mexican hero you readers have never heard about. Google Angeles. I admire Felipe.
Fidel Castro’s July 26, 1953 attack on the Moncada Barracks was a failure, and Fidel served two years in jail during which the Cuban dictator, Fulgencio Batista, could easily have had him executed. Batista compounded his mistake by releasing Castro, who then went to Mexico and organized an invasion of Cuba which succeeded in causing Batista to flee Cuba, and Castro took over the island, just 90 miles from the United States, on January 1, 1959.
Cuba has remained under an American economic embargo ever since, because Fidel was determined to run a sovereign, nationalistic government. The Americans condemned the Cuban regime as communist, and the world almost experienced nuclear war in October of 1962 when the Americans faced off with the Russians, who had installed nuclear missiles on Cuba at Fidel Castro’s invitation. Google Cuba Missile Crisis.
You need to know that we Belizeans could have been incinerated without having the slightest idea what was happening to us. In Belize, we were still recovering from Hurricane Hattie (October 1961), and all we teenagers were interested in doing was listening to American radio stations in Houston, Texas; Little Rock, Arkansas; and St. Louis, Missouri, through their long range AM signals. (A little white girl named Brenda Lee from Atlanta, Georgia, was running things musical in those days.) For Caribbean music, we had to listen to the jukeboxes in the neighborhood clubs. (The monopoly government radio station here was “British.”) Meanwhile, the Americans and the Russians were risking nuclear war because Fidel Castro was the most stubbornly nationalistic man in Caribbean history. Google Fidel. Respect Fidel.
Emancipation Day. Belize never celebrated it, because the brown-skinned Creoles wanted to be white, not black. And the concept of Emancipation Day (1838) reminded them too much of the fact that somewhere along the family line, all of us had African mothers. Belizeans denied their African ancestry in the nineteenth century, in the twentieth century, and the beginning of the twenty first. We were denying truth.
Google Virginia Echols. Google Ya Ya Marin Coleman.
Power to the people.