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From the Publisher

PublisherFrom the Publisher

Last Friday night it was reported on local television that a jealous British soldier who had allegedly committed various abuses, including kidnapping, of his Belizean lover, and had received special treatment from the Belizean judicial system, appeared to have been cleared of everything, and had been returned his passport, and would probably return to England.

I have two special readers, one in the United States and one who moves between Great Britain and Nigeria, who harass me when my column does not appear in the newspaper.

It is no use pleading old age to them, even though the Rt. Hon. George Price, when he was around my age (I’m 76), was forced out of leadership of the People’s United Party (PUP) by people who had historically been very close and very loyal to him. And when he was around my age, or a little younger, Hon. Philip Goldson, who had been blind for decades, was forced into a kind of powerless Ministerial status in the UDP/NABR coalition government of 1993-1998 when people around him deceived him into signing bogus permanent residency documents which they were selling to Chinese nationals.

Anyway, as the International Court of Justice (ICJ) arbitration between Guatemala and Belize draws closer, I am becoming more intimidated by the vulnerable situation in which I believe resident Belizeans find themselves. My timidity is increased by the horrors that we have been seeing taking place in the Gaza.

There is a philosophical, or ideological, question involved here. We grew up being taught that the pen was mightier than the sword. We took this for Gospel. But the great Chinese icon who led China to revolutionary communist power in 1949, Chairman Mao (or Mao Zedong), famously and distinctly said: power grows from the barrel of a gun. The two ideas are completely contradictory, would you not say?

When I was a young, militant black man, I would have railed bloody hell about the British soldier case which I mentioned in the opening paragraph. But long-time readers of mine will remember that I once quoted Stretch Lightburn, who was himself quoting the great Paul Cain to me. Paul said we Belizeans were the only black people in the world who had white men guarding us and making sure we were safe at night. This was during the British colonial days of the 1950s here.

In return for the power of their guns, the British could bend and twist our judicial system in practically any way they wished. This is how it seems to me. This wonderful 8,867 square miles and its Belizean inhabitants would always have been unable to resist any Israeli-type invasion by our Guatemalan neighbours.

So then, what really is it that we sought in our quest for so-called independence? In a sense, all we did was make ourselves militarily vulnerable, which is the reason our “friends” were able to persuade a narrow majority of Belizeans to go to the ICJ. We are seeking juridical protection for our land and sea from the militarily powerful Guatemalans. In previous times, the British warded off the Guatemalans so that BEC, a British transnational company, could rape our forests and export our hardwoods. We were, I’ve always repeated this, “British subjects.”

There were two British possessions in the Caribbean which refused independence from the British. These are Bermuda and the Cayman Islands, and both of these two are very wealthy islands, that wealth being based, I believe, on their offshore banking industries and on tourism. A relevant question would be, why did these two not want independence, whereas, we, threatened by Guatemala as we have been since Jorge Ubico led that republic in the 1930s, fought politically and internationally to achieve political independence.

So then, you can see my dilemma as a Belizean thinker. I have accepted that Chairman Mao is right. It is for sure that the Americans, who support the Guatemalans, who in turn support the Israelis, control the most powerful military in the world. And, it is for sure that the British have washed their hands of us, in the sense of accepting any responsibility for our defence.

My generation of Belizeans has essentially migrated to the United States. Younger generations of Belizeans have become hedonistic, partly because of tourism and television, while some dangerous strains of ethnic tension are appearing here and there in The Jewel. This is just how it seems to me, and you are, of course, free to think otherwise and express yourselves appropriately.

The late Leroy Taegar used to say to me: Christianity makes one fearful, whereas Islam makes you fearless. Belize is Christian. I myself was raised to follow the non-violent teachings of Jesus Christ. Guatemala is Christian, but Guatemala is violent. Belize is not ready for any kind of war. So then, if an old man sometimes has nothing to say in these times, how can you indict that old man for his silence? Tell me.

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