One of the reasons I write about certain episodes and certain times in my public life is to establish the history in a definitive way, “concretize” it. It is important to do this so that the enemies of our people, and their stooges, who will want to revise history, cannot confuse and/or mislead the generations who come after us.
When I entered public life here in the beginning of 1969, there were two families which dominated the political life of Belize. If we could not see that then, I submit that we can surely see that now.
Hon. George Price was the Leader of the ruling People’s United Party (PUP) and Premier of Belize. One of his younger sisters, Mrs. Jane Price Usher, was in control of the prestigious Holy Redeemer Credit Union, and one of his younger brothers, the late John, was a prominent medical doctor. The Price family was monolithic, in that there were no known or publicly dissident elements in its extended reality. The Price family was a decidedly Roman Catholic family.
The political opposition to the PUP was dominated by the Fairweather family in a manner which was considerably less obvious than the Price family’s leadership influence in the PUP. “Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition” – the National Independence party (NIP), was led by Hon. Philip Goldson, who had succeeded the late Herbert Fuller in 1961, but a new Opposition party was formed in the spring/summer of 1969 – the People’s Development Movement (PDM), led by attorney Dean Lindo, who had challenged Mr. Goldson in May of that year for leadership of the NIP, and lost.
Mr. Lindo, the uncle of present UDP Leader/Prime Minister Dean Barrow, was married to Eva Elizabeth “Betty” Fairweather Lindo, a striking beauty who was the daughter of the late Col. D .N. A. Fairweather and his wife. In British Honduras, the Fairweathers were the most prominent local family in both formal and informal social circles, one reason for this being that one of the Colonel’s sons, Richard “Dickie” Fairweather, had been a Royal Air Force hero killed over Germany in World War II. The Fairweathers were Anglican Church stalwarts.
In real political terms, however, it was perhaps of more importance that the British Honduras Freedom Committee in New York City was controlled by one of the Colonel’s cousins, Compton Fairweather. The role of Compton’s father, the late Anglican priest, Rev. Gerald Fairweather, was very discreet, even shadowy, but Compton operated a radio-telephone service from the Reverend’s home on Rutland Road in Brooklyn which provided the only “reliable” news service for Belizeans in New York. That news from “home” had a definite anti-PUP flavor.
The late Dr. Leroy Taegar used to maintain that, at its height, the British Honduras Freedom Committee had a list of 8,000 Belizean Americans who contributed $10 a month in U.S. dollars to the organization. Dr. Dennis Young is very skeptical of these figures. In fact, I would go so far as to say that he disputes Taegar’s figures. But, if we were even to revise the figures downwards by half, or as much as two thirds, the Freedom Committee would still have been a well-heeled entity. In fact, the Freedom Committee was believed by some observers to be the leading financier of the NIP and the NIPDM in the national elections of 1965 and 1969, respectively.
In early 1971, Col. Fairweather’s youngest son, Norman, returned to Belize from New York City. A popular and charismatic figure in Belize from the 1960’s, he almost immediately became the secretary-general of the UBAD Party, of which I was the president. I had just been acquitted of housebreaking and stealing charges in the January 1971 session of the British Honduras Supreme Court, following my acquittal on seditious conspiracy charges in the July 1970 session of that Supreme Court.
With the incarceration of the late Charles X “Justice” Eagan in January of 1971, and the arrival of Norman and the late Kimani Kenyatta (formerly Glenn Trapp), a karate expert, from New York, UBAD began to take on some Black Panther rhetoric/vibes to replace some of our Nation of Islam rhetoric/vibes. Charles X Eagan, who was quite a bit older than most of the UBAD officers, had been UBAD Minister of Lands and War. Justice had introduced the Hon. Elijah Muhammad’s Nation of Islam to Belize in 1962.
In the weeks leading up to the annual Tenth of September celebrations in 1971, Rev. Gerald Fairweather came to Belize and offered to outfit a number of UBAD leaders, members and supporters in red, black and green (the originally Garveyite colors) for our march. We accompanied him to James Brodies on Albert Street, where he made the purchases of red and green cloth. The black, if I remember correctly, was provided by berets. I don’t remember the specific origin of the berets.
In that September of 1971, after two years of being unemployed, I began teaching at Wesley College, and shortly after that the UBAD Party was informed that the NIP Leader, the Hon. Philip Goldson, wanted us to join him in a coalition for the Belize City Council elections scheduled for December of that year. Goldson was a full-fledged national hero, especially for black youth, and I suppose we in UBAD were dazzled by his attention. I cannot say when we were informed or made to understand that Dean Lindo and his PDM would be boycotting those elections. There was something going on, and we in UBAD didn’t know what it was.
It is clear now to me that Mr. Goldson, for whatever the reasons, had fallen out of favor with the Freedom Committee and it had been decided to replace him with Mr. Lindo. The NIP/UBAD’s CitCo campaign was very poorly financed, and doomed from the start by the PDM’s boycott.
What you have to understand is that the UBAD Party was essentially going along for the ride in those elections. We were junior partners in the coalition and had absolutely no say in policy, strategy or tactics. On the night of the counting of the ballots at St. Mary’s Hall, however, as the night went on and dawn approached, the winning PUP targeted UBAD for intimidation and ridicule. So that, when UBAD leaders and supporters walked down the steps of St. Mary’s Hall in the early daylight following the night’s counting, there were no NIP on the scene, and a triumphant group of PUP followers were there to heckle us.
It began to become evident to me that, in the eyes of the PUP, it was UBAD which they had defeated. A young man of 24 at the time, I took this personally, and began planning revenge. In desperation, I made a decision which would turn out to be just that – desperate. I decided to go to New York to see the Freedom Committee. There was, however and to repeat, something going on and I didn’t know what it was. I will complete this account, Inshallah, in our mid-week issue.