Say you’re an extremely wealthy Belizean individual, family, or business group, and then this coronavirus catastrophe strikes, boom, the bottom falls completely out of the tourism money maker, and the Belizean economy goes into panic mode.
Almost half the population of Belize was already in the poverty category of sufferers, and now tons of the gainfully employed go on the chopping block, so to speak.
In order to have become extremely wealthy, in the first instance, you would have had to cultivate a mindset of a certain type, which is to say, you would have had to be hard core capitalist and place your bank account and business assets above all other considerations, considerations such as the welfare of the other human beings in your community/society.
Let’s make a long story short, or shorter. The extremely wealthy ones in Belize, beginning in the latter part of March this year, would have begun to start figuring out how to protect their wealth down the road from increasing hordes of desperately hungry people. Towards that end, the wealthy would have looked to the political leaders whom they have on their payroll, and these political leaders, in turn, would look to the so-called security forces.
Presumably, Jesus the Christ would have begun sharing the food, but even though the capitalists are always invoking His name, societies like Belize, where their finances, economics, and business are concerned, are not about Jesus the Christ and his five loaves and two fishes. The Belizean capitalist system, like all other classic such, is dog eat dog. Real.
When the Covid-19 crisis began, I started to think about a lot of Belizeans I know who have been living from meal to meal, when such meals are out there, for the time that I have known them. How do such Belizeans survive when they are forced to remain inside the walls of whatever passes for home, and there is nothing growing inside such homes which can be possibly be described as food?
I spoke to one of my key sources over the last couple days, and his explanation was that the people on the Southside, for instance, have been surviving on remittances from Belizeans in the United States, who have their own problems, trust me. The explanation sounded reasonable, and one reason it sounded reasonable was because I have no other explanation for how roots people have been surviving, because I can’t really believe that the government welfare “pantry” program could possibly have been comprehensive enough to feed all the needy.
Back to the diaspora. Fifty years ago, we in Belize had a good picture of what the Belizean diaspora looked like. It was headquartered in New York City, led by the late Compton Fairweather, and the diaspora luminaries were from middle class Belizean families and they were hostile to Belize’s ruling People’s United Party (PUP), which was led by the Rt. Hon. George C. Price.
The thing is, fifty years ago there was a Belizean nation, or at least a Belizean nation in the offing, specifically where the majority descendants of the nation-building African slave population freed in 1838 by the British were concerned. What we have today where the 8,867 square miles of Belize are located in the Western Hemisphere, is a different consciousness with respect to the descendants of Belize’s slave population: the majority have migrated to the United States, whether legally or illegally; the original PUP bogeyman has been removed from office on three different occasions; and a very powerful set of business and industrial migrants – Mennonites, Chinese, Indians, and even some Americans, have driven permanent piles in the soil of The Jewel.
Now, with respect to the present day diaspora, I don’t speak as any kind of authority. I have said to you on previous occasions that I consider Los Angeles-based Dr. Jerome Straughan the leading expert on Belizean migration to the United States. In 2020, what I do believe is that Los Angeles has replaced New York as the center of Belizean culture, activism, and consciousness; a couple generations of older New York Belizeans have moved to Florida to escape the cold; and there is no monolithic political consciousness in the diaspora, as was represented by the British Honduras Freedom Committee in the 1960s and 1970s.
Again, I think it is important to ensure that our readers understand the diaspora is not as Creole or as Black as it was perceived in the Freedom Committee days. The Belizean diaspora is heavily Mestizo, decidedly multicultural. And we have not even mentioned the Garifuna reality yet.
There must be a lot going on in the Facebook and social media world where Belize is concerned which is relevant and exciting. Out there somewhere there is a lot of information and knowledge to which I am not privy. If my source is correct, that the diasporans have saved Belizeans, at least temporarily, over the last couple months, then there are a lot of our families which are enthusiastically and intently communicating in cyber space between Belize and America.
The thing is, there is no guarantee that the diaspora will be able to save Belize indefinitely. At some point these coronavirus hard times may bring so much pressure on our security forces that the very wealthy Belizeans we began this essay discussing, may be well advised to raise their pay.
Power to the people.