In my column last weekend, I forgot to include the fact that the Republicans I mentioned were also concerned in late 1972/early 1973 about what they were told was a Black Panther-type movement in Belize, apart from the communist branding on Assad Shoman and Said Musa, young PUP-affiliated attorneys, by the Chamber of Commerce and the incipient United Democratic Party (UDP), which was first known as the “Unity Congress.”
Because of a miscommunication of sorts, a list of the top United States corporations in Guatemala in 1975, numbering more than seventy, was not included in last weekend’s newspaper, but should appear in the midweek issue. Check it out. You will find the list interesting. Most of the top American corporations operate in Guatemala through subsidiaries.
In early and middle 1972, the ruling People’s United Party (PUP) made a series of arrests of UBAD (United Black Association for Development) leaders and supporters on different charges. In all of these cases, if memory serves me correct, the accused were defended, pro bono, both in Magistrate’s and Supreme Courts, by the late Dean Lindo, who was the leader of the People’s Development Movement (PDM) at the time.
Whereas three UBAD officers, including myself, had demonstrated our loyalty to Hon. Philip Goldson, the leader of the National Independence Party (NIP), by running as Belize City Council candidates in the December 1971 CitCo election in an NIP-UBAD coalition, it is obvious, especially in retrospect, that Lindo gained a huge amount of favor with the UBAD faithful by defending their leaders in court just a couple months after Mr. Goldson had decided to travel to London to study law (January 1972). Lindo definitely did not share UBAD’s roots politics: he was a hard-core conservative.
The irony in the situation was that Mr. Goldson had, presciently, sent his wife, Hadie, to study law in London in 1961. She qualified and was admitted to the bar in 1965, and had that initiative by Mr. Goldson paid the dividends he had expected it to do, then he himself, already experiencing serious eyesight problems, would not have had to go study law himself, and it was Mrs. Goldson who would have been defending us in court instead of the conservative Lindo, who would displace Mr. Goldson as Opposition leader in 1974, after failing in an NIP leadership challenge in 1969.
Another intriguing aspect of that era has to do with the Black Panther description of the UBAD group. UBAD’s most “Black Pantherish” personality, in physique, clothing, and demeanor, was the karate expert Glenn Trapp, who used the African name of “Kimani Kenyatta.” Kenyatta was highly visible in UBAD between mid-1971 and mid-1972, but he vanished after the May 29, 1972 insurrection which led to the arrests and Magistrate’s and Supreme Court trials of Norman Fairweather, Michael Hyde (deceased), and Edwardo Burns. (Some while after, Kenyatta returned to Belize and formed his own organization.)
I have never written this before, out of respect for Kimani’s siblings, but I’ve considered him an agent of some sort. He was never an officer of UBAD, but had his own “paramilitary” group of UBAD-ers he used to train at the old Belizean Beach. I knew nothing of this, basically because I was teaching at Wesley College in the 1971/72 school year.
In UBAD in 1972/73, we were not paying a lot of attention to the goings on of Nixon and Kissinger in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. All our focus was on the PUP, which had “ambushed” a couple of our members at St. Mary’s Hall during the counting of the 1971 CitCo election ballots. In a sense, elements of the PUP had identified UBAD as the real opposition danger, not Mr. Philip’s NIP.
I have always wondered how it was that UBAD surfaced just 19 years after the PUP was born in 1950. The original PUP was a genuinely revolutionary movement, from all indications, so where did UBAD come from? The majority of the youth in the early UBAD were from PUP families, to my mind, whereas UBAD experienced an influx of NIP youth after Norman Fairweather returned from New York to join us in early 1971.
The man Nuri Muhammad in his KREM Radio talk show last week touched briefly on the division inside the PUP in the middle 1950s, a division which culminated with the replacement of Leigh Richardson as PUP leader with Rt. Hon. George Price. Ethnicity played a major role in internal PUP upheaval, because of the controversy surrounding the proposal for West Indian Federation put forward by the British. This is a delicate subject.
But, I will leave you with this. Ethnicity was probably the major issue in the Guatemalan civil war just west and south of The Jewel between 1960 and 1996. A quarter million Guatemalans died, and very, very few Belizeans knew what the hell was going on next door. They say that ignorance is bliss. This is for you to decide, beloved.