For a few months now the PUP sympathizers in the Kremandala yard have been saying that Kalilah Enriquez (of KREM Radio/TV) is a UDP. So on Thursday morning when a UDP GUARDIAN columnist lashed out at Kal, I had to laugh.
Later in the day, I called her and said, “Welcome to the big leagues.”
Kalilah didn’t know what I was talking about. She hadn’t seen the column.
That same Thursday the BELIZE TIMES editorial included Adele Ramos of Amandala as one of those “who seize every opportunity to unfairly attack the government …” I had a meeting with Adele on Friday morning, and she hadn’t seen the material to which I called her attention.
I don’t think any of these young university-educated ladies are politicians, or politically inclined in the party sense. But they are both expressing opinions on issues of public concerns. The nature of Belize’s two party system is that every issue of public concern is a political issue, in that the two major political parties are always on opposite sides of the spectrum. In the old days, the only people who could express opinions on public issues were those who had the protection of one of the major political parties, because a single individual could be easily intimidated by the mass and ferocity of whichever political party took offence to the opinion.
Politics is a game with very high stakes in Belize, and Belizean politicians are dangerous people. Politics is a game without rules in Belize. Check that: there are two rules – don’t lose and don’t get caught.
My job as chairman at Kremandala is to protect the talented people who work here from being intimidated by political thugs. My job isn’t to tell our people what to say or what to write. Kremandala is the media house with the most freedom in Belize. Our personnel feel free to express their opinions without anyone like me looking over their shoulder. Ask them. I treat writers the way I wanted to be treated.
There is a larger issue here. It is the issue of generation. The political parties are essentially run by older people who are living in the past. The younger people consider them to be corrupt and irrelevant. It is really foolish of the UDP newspaper to attack Kalilah. What they are doing is what the PUP would have liked to do, but the PUP, generally speaking, are smarter politicians than the UDP. The PUP attacked Adele because they can’t stand the heat she’s been bringing. But it was just a sentence. The UDP newspaper spent several paragraphs “tracing” Kalilah. Dumb.
Politicians are people we must respect, believe me, because they operate under a lot of pressure and they have to work day and night for months in campaign, especially in the modern era.
Politics will burn you out. The only politician left in the House of Representatives from 1969, when this newspaper began, is Hon. Florencio Marin. And he benefited from a constituency which was “safe” for his party. Florencio is also the only one left from the House who was there in 1974. Look at all of those who are burned out shells. I’m not going to call names, because my purpose is not to deride. My purpose is to prove to you that it’s tough being a politician.
On the other hand, while our politicians deserve our respect, they also do things, under pressure, which I despise. They become consumed by the stress of campaign, and then nothing has meaning for them except within the political context. Since every vote can decide victory or defeat, the candidate themselves become fanatics.
My personal experience was that I got sucked into politics without being aware of what was happening to me. I was tried in the Supreme Court on a political charge when I was 23 years old, and began to feel that I was being targeted. My decision was to go down fighting, so I changed UBAD into a political party. When I read what happened to Tony Soberanis between 1934 and 1935, I can see that some of what happened to him, happened to me thirty-five years later.
Unless you have big “backative,” you have to cut Mephistophelian deals in order to make it in politics. If you don’t intend to “make it,” if you don’t intend to win at any cost, you are wasting your time in politics. But, in our present constitutional system, we have to have politicians, because they are the sine qua non, the building blocks for what we call parliamentary democracy.
As we head towards general elections, I can assure the politicians out there that personal attacks on the personnel at Kremandala will cost them more than it will benefit them. The reason why this will be so, is because Kremandala exists only because it has the support of the masses of the Belizean people. We work for our dollars and cents back here: no cushy “sovereign guarantees” protect us from the marketplace.
Come test wi no. Power to the people.