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“THE CANDLE MAY GO OUT,BUT THE MEMORY...

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The early UBAD, idealistic as it was after it was formed in early February of 1969, came up with the idea of trying to convince the two political parties of the day – the ruling People’s United Party (PUP) and the Opposition National Independence Party (NIP) to have a united parade on the 1969 National Day – September 10, the anniversary of the Battle of St. George’s Caye.

I think the initiative was conceived of by the late Edgar X Richardson, although we are talking about more than a half century ago, so I can’t be sure. Our secretary/treasurer, Ismail Omar Shabazz, wrote both the parties to propose the united march.

At the time, maybe May or June of that year, the NIP seldom held a public meeting, but a surrogate group of theirs, called CIVIC (I don’t remember what the acronym stood for), was holding weekly public meetings on Thursdays at the old Harley’s Open Lot on Regent Street. The principals on the CIVIC rostrum would usually be Wilfredo “Shubu” Brown and Ulric “Buntin” Buller, and the CIVIC meetings were usually chaired by one Allan Griffiths.

I don’t believe the PUP responded to the UBAD letter, but CIVIC brought a young guy named Robert Howard on their rostrum to say that UBAD would have to march behind NIP/CIVIC. It was a kind of provocative comment which indirectly led to a public fight between CIVIC and UBAD one night in August of 1969.

Mr. Goldson had already been challenged for leadership of the NIP by the attorney Dean Lindo sometime in mid-1969, but that challenge took place some time before the CIVIC vs UBAD fight. Having been defeated by Mr. Goldson, Mr. Lindo had claimed foul, and left the NIP to form his own party – the People’s Development Movement. Later Governor-General, Sir Colville Young, joined the new PDM, along with people like Hugh “Donnie” Weir and Lawrence “Pampo” Young.

I believe it was in the same August 1969 month of the fight when both Amandala and the PDM newspaper, Beacon, began publication.

All that I have written so far in this column is by way of introduction to my first public lesson in roughneck politics. After the CIVIC/UBAD squabble, Dean Lindo took advantage of the bad blood between the two groups to send a well-known taxi driver, now deceased, to ask me, as UBAD president, if he could say a few words on our rostrum one night at a Courthouse Wharf public meeting. Inexperienced and reckless as I was in party politics, unaware that this was a Dean Lindo concoction, I said what the hell, since the taxi driver said he wanted to say a few words about Mr. Goldson.

What he was actually sent, no doubt paid, to do, however, was to scandalize Mrs. Hadie Goldson. I remember that two ladies at the meeting, Theola Turton and a lady whose name I cannot now recall, became very irate and rushed up to me in their anger. I was an innocent, really, and this was my first lesson in big time politics.

It would seem to me that the Freedom Committee of New York had invested heavily in financing the NIP for the 1965 general election, but the NIP had won only two seats – Mr. Goldson’s in Albert and Edwin Morey’s in Toledo North. Sometime after that, I think the relatively secretive Freedom Committee came to the conclusion that Mr. Goldson was not the answer to Mr. Price. And their choice, apparently, was Dean Lindo, who surfaced so confidently in 1969 to challenge a man who was a great national hero – Philip Stanley Wilberforce.

The vast majority of senior Belizeans who would remember that period in Belizean politics are now living in the United States. The younger generations of Belizeans have not been educated about the important 1960s, when Mr. Goldson risked jail to expose the Thirteen Proposals.

I write this because this ICJ matter is become of greater concern to I. The British, as skilful and experienced as they are in diplomacy and matters like that, have extricated themselves from the territorial dispute after extracting most of Belize’s precious mahogany. So, the oft-quoted words of Mr. Goldson echo constantly in my ear: “The time to save your country is before you lose it.”     

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