The sensational incident involving the late Police Superintendent Henry Jemmott and Jasmine Hartin, Lord Michael Ashcroft’s daughter-in-law, has been dominating the news in Belize since last week Friday, but shortly after the Hartin-Jemmott news broke, controversy surfaced with respect to a video circulating on Belize’s social media which appeared to implicate Hon. Patrick Faber, the Leader of the United Democratic Party (UDP) Opposition, in an incident of domestic uproar. The incident was the result of a disagreement between Mr. Faber and the mother of one of his children, a two-year-old girl.
The situation is noteworthy because the UDP Opposition, led by Mr. Faber, has been very
weak since last November’s general election and this March’s municipal elections. It is generally accepted as a truism that a parliamentary democracy is only as strong as the Opposition which keeps the government on its toes.
In the relative absence of the UDP, we have seen the Belize National Teachers Union (BNTU) and the Public Service Union (PSU) step into the breach, so to speak, but the unions were not designed to play the role of the Opposition in the House of Representatives.
This column focuses on the Faber situation as a suggestion of the role denominational religion continues to play in Belize’s politics. Given that the very wealthy and powerful Gapi Vega hates Patrick Faber’s guts, and given the fact that the even more powerful retirees, former Prime Minister Dean Barrow and Housing Minister Michael Finnegan, have ceased to be Faber’s fans, my thesis is that Patrick Faber remains UDP Leader because he is a favorite of the Anglican Church, the Church of England, the Church of Buckingham Palace, Queen Elizabeth II’s Church. (Be reminded that the UDP was organized by an Anglican priest from Brooklyn in September of 1973.)
The relationship between myself and the Roman Catholic Church improved substantially when St. John’s College introduced African and Mayan history into their curriculum in 2013. It is eight years since then, and SJC has created a superb template to be emulated. but the Anglican schools have simply and casually continued to ignore the history of our African and Mayan ancestors.
During my time as leader of a black conscious movement in Belize in the early 1970s, I realized how powerful the Anglican Church is in Belize. They do not have to make any noise, because they are the official church of Mother England. And in England, the state and the church are as one. The Queen, the head of state, is the head of the Church.
From the educational standpoint, I think the church-state system has failed in Belize. The evidence is what has been transpiring on the Southside of Belize City for the last thirty-plus years – civil war, genocide, black youth suicide, insanity, whatever. The fundamental problem is that most of the Southside youth born every year grow up to be uneducated and untrained. The education system in Belize, no matter how the politicians keep pouring money into it, is simply not doing its job.
Yes, an elite class has benefited. In my youth, perhaps I was a member of that elite class, because I did pretty well in the church-state system in the 1950s and 1960s.
But this is 2021. There is havoc around us. Don’t blame the pandemic. Don’t even blame the Queen. We and our ancestors were British subjects, British subjects because the Queen defended us from Guatemala after enslaving us centuries before. As late as 2021, it seems we are still unable to defend ourselves after declaring our independence in 1981. Think about what I’m trying to say to you.
We are living in serious times.