The French writer Balzac (1799-1850) once wrote that behind every great fortune there is a crime. One assumes he allowed for the existence of multiple crimes giving birth to these fortunes as opposed to a singular criminal act.
When Bob Turton died in 1955, he was the richest native in British Honduras, but a chiclero by the name of Eleuterio Hernandez had tried to kill him with a pistol. He caught Turton on one of his fingers. The reality of such a homicide attempt suggests that the reports are true that Turton was a man who exploited chicleros mercilessly.
After Turton, the richest native in British Honduras became Santiago Castillo, Sr. One of my few business friends has told me that early in his business career, San Cas, who came from the Orange Walk District, had a partner whom he treated in a dishonorable way. I’m just saying what was said to me.
Leaving the Balzac quote aside, I would say that, generally speaking, one is most unlikely to become wealthy if one entertains compassion in his soul. But Belizeans claim that this is a Christian nation, and the hallmark of Christ’s teachings, as I read in the New Testament, was compassion, love for one’s fellow human beings.
When I came home from school in 1968, I could quickly recognize the Belize to which I had returned. It took a while, but I soon felt at home.
Today, I don’t recognize this Belize of 2022 in which I live. There is so much going on here which is amazing, even frightening, to me. In Belize City, there are signs of enormous wealth all around us in vehicles, buildings, yachts, and so on. Presumably, there are also massive bank accounts in the institutions which make this Belize City the country’s financial capital which it is. Recently, the authorities found three-plus million dollars lying around in a Carmelita business. The key here is “lying around.”
When I was a child, clearly most Belizeans were relatively naive, because we did not rate money the way we do today. Our emphasis was on living together in harmony. Yes, we criticized our neighbours behind their backs, but we were quick to assist those same neighbours if they needed help in any way. And we did a lot of social mingling, even across classes, and we held daily conversations with our neighbours.
All this has changed radically. All we focus on today is money and material things. Perhaps more discouraging is how we isolate ourselves from each other. In Belize, neighbours are no longer neighbours. We are strangers to each other.
Three-plus years ago I had an idea, a vision, for a garden of sports in the 7 acres where the KREM Radio tower is presently located. This is the Lord’s Bank/Ladyville/Lake Garden area. I think, though, that the Belizeans who live around the site where these 7 acres are located, are not interested in anything which may be of bother in any kind of way. They have a Greta Garbo mentality. Leave me alone. This, I must respect. A man’s home is his castle.
The mentality which now rules the urban areas of Belize is the product of cable television, to a great extent. Add all these internet-featuring high-tech telephones, and the isolation has become exaggerated. Belize’s soul is dead. I don’t know this place.
I have always said to you that there is only a small group of Belizeans, perhaps 4 percent, who take the things I say seriously. The vast majority of Belizeans are committed to the Christianity which the conquering Europeans have handed us through the schools they established and control. But there is a massive contradiction in Belize to my mind. You love your cable and your phone more than you love your neighbour. You lust for wealth more than you treasure truth. Therefore, you, Belizeans, are bogus Christians. Straight up.