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Home Editorial Mr. Goldson and the Maritime Areas Act

Mr. Goldson and the Maritime Areas Act

BELIZE CITY, Mon. Dec. 4 (2017)– “Information gleaned from a document ‘Released under the John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992,’ suggest that the challenge to Hon. Philip Goldson’s leadership of the National Independence Party (NIP), by the attorney Dean Lindo in 1969, might have been orchestrated by Washington and Whitehall because of FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) intelligence which showed that Goldson had gotten too close to Fidel Castro and communist Cuba.”

“The revelations are astounding for political historians because Mr. Goldson was surrounded in the late 1960s by people who were pro-British, pro-American, Christian, and definitely anti-communist. It is true that Mr. Goldson was so intense where the Guatemalan claim to Belize was concerned, that he might have thrown caution to the winds, so to speak. But it would be safe to say that most of Mr. Goldson’s supporters would have been alarmed by a Cuban connection.

( – from the headline story in AMANDALA no. 3137, of Tuesday, December 5, 2017)

The ruling United Democratic Party (UDP) has essentially gotten away with ignoring the fact that our national hero, Hon. Philip Goldson, defected from the UDP and formed his own National Alliance for Belizean Rights (NABR) in 1991 because of the Maritime Areas Act. The UDP’s leadership has gotten away with glossing over the fact that when Mr. Goldson agreed to a NABR coalition with the UDP just weeks before the June 30, 1993 general election, the concession made by the UDP was that, if the UDP/NABR coalition won, then the new government would immediately repeal the Maritime Areas Act. The UDP/NABR coalition did win, but the UDP Leader/Prime Minister, Dr. Manuel Esquivel, supported by his Deputy, Hon. Dean Barrow, refused to repeal. So that, when Mr. Goldson died in 2001, he had been betrayed and had never returned to the UDP. Mr. Goldson remained NABR until his death.

UDP spokesmen who are in favor of taking the Guatemalan claim to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) have been arguing that Mr. Goldson wanted to take the Guatemalan claim to the ICJ in 1967. Things have changed dramatically since 1967, however, in that Belize, a self-governing British colony in 1967, became a sovereign, independent nation with all our territory intact in 1981. In addition, the 2008 Special Agreement terms under which Belizeans are being asked to vote to go to the ICJ in April next year, open up “any and all legal claims” by Guatemala to ICJ arbitration, in addition to granting the ICJ the power to define what are Belize’s borders. The Philip Goldson Belizeans knew, would have refused the 2008 Special Agreement outright.

The Philip Goldson Belizeans knew, risked jail to reveal the Thirteen Proposals in 1966. This was an act of singular, unprecedented personal courage in the annals of Belize’s modern political history. When Bethuel Webster’s Seventeen Proposals were formally released in 1968, the text of Webster’s Proposals read almost exactly the same as Goldson’s Thirteen Proposals. The Thirteen Proposals represented evidence of phenomenal retentive memory on Mr. Philip’s part. The Thirteen and Seventeen Proposals provided the first documented proof that the United States of America was insisting that Belize must be subordinate to, and a satellite state of, the republic of Guatemala.

Remember now, that when Mr. Goldson exposed the Thirteen Proposals in 1966, and when he is said to have espoused the ICJ option in 1967 as a court of arbitration for the Guatemalan claim, he was the Leader of the National Independence Party (NIP), which was Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition. Between 1965 and 1969, the NIP held two seats in the 18-seat House of Representatives. (The ruling People’s United Party (PUP) controlled sixteen seats in the House.)

The very last election in which the NIP participated was the Belize City Council election of December 1971. The NIP was the senior partner in a coalition with the young UBAD Party, that election being the UBAD’s first electoral exercise. At that time, Mr. Goldson held the only Opposition seat in the House, so that his NIP remained Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition. The NIP had run the December 1969 general election in a hasty coalition with Dean Lindo’s People’s Development Movement (PDM). The NIPDM coalition broke up immediately after the 1969 general election.

When the UDP absorbed the NIP in September of 1973, Mr. Goldson was studying law in London. One Leonard Brackett, a UDP insider from that era, recently claimed that until the UDP held a biennial conference in 1976 and chose the attorney Dean Lindo as Party Leader, the UDP had actually been led, from foundation in September 1973, by the Rev. Gerald Fairweather, a Brooklyn-based Anglican priest. The fact of the matter which has never been disputed is that Dean Lindo was not named UDP Leader at the UDP’s foundation because, we submit, everyone in Belize knew that Philip Goldson was the Opposition Leader in whom the Opposition rank-and-file had the most confidence.

We have been setting the stage in this essay for Mr. Goldson’s walking away from the UDP in 1991. The two most powerful UDP leaders at the time, Dr. Manuel Esquivel and Hon. Dean Barrow, had agreed with the then ruling PUP to support the Maritime Areas Act. When Mr. Goldson rebelled and organized NABR, Esquivel and Barrow were forced to withdraw their support for the Maritime Areas Act. The heat from the UDP base was too much, because that base still believed in Mr. Philip.

The 2008 Special Agreement has the potential to be much more dangerous for Belize than the Maritime Areas Act. This is how the situation appears to us presently. Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow, who in 1991 first supported the Maritime Areas Act and then changed his mind, is leading the charge for Belizeans to say yes to the ICJ referendum. Mr. Barrow must be considered the leader of the yes charge because he is the Leader of the ruling UDP and the Prime Minister of Belize. For years, Mr. Barrow pretended to be lukewarm, even peripheral, in his support for ICJ arbitration. Invariably, the opprobrium of the Belizean people, with respect to the Special Agreement and the yes vote, had to be directed towards Foreign Minister Wilfred Elrington, who appeared to be leading the ICJ charge. Well, in his press conference on Monday morning, October 29, 2018, Mr. Barrow explicitly took over the ICJ reins.

Let us be clear, Belizeans. The two most powerful domestic organizations in Belize are the UDP and the PUP. The UDP and the PUP control the vast majority of adult voting Belizeans at any given time and on any given issue. Any foreign entity, such as the United States of America, which wishes to influence the outcome of such a vote as the ICJ referendum vote next April, will focus on the leadership of the UDP and the leadership of the PUP.

The only electoral politician who ever successfully defied the UDP and the PUP was the Hon. Philip Goldson. More than that, in 1966 Mr. Goldson defied the United States and the United Kingdom when he exposed the Thirteen Proposals. If the present leadership of the UDP held Mr. Goldson in such esteem as they pretend to do from time to time, the leadership of the UDP would never have ignored so completely last year’s revelations in declassified FBI documents. The present leadership of the UDP ignored those declassified revelations because the revelations explain why Mr. Goldson had to be replaced as Opposition Leader. It was to appease the United States of America, which feared that Mr. Goldson was so patriotic a Belizean as to forge links with the Cuban nation.

At this newspaper, which was the media organ of the UBAD Party in 1971, we have always, with respect, viewed Mr. Goldson’s electoral alliance with us in December of 1971 as an act of political desperation on his part. We never had any evidence to suggest that Mr. Goldson’s alliance with UBAD was any more than that. All we had to go on were the events which transpired in 1972 and 1973, which is to say, Mr. Goldson’s leaving Belize to study law in London in January of 1972 and the subsequent absorption of his NIP by the UDP in September of 1973.

Last year, the FBI’s declassified documents fleshed out the portion of Mr. Goldson’s history between 1968 and 1973 for us. These documents indicate that, in defence of Belize’s rights to self-determination, territorial integrity, and national dignity, Mr. Goldson had opened a conversation with Cuba. Such a man would not have accepted the 2008 Special Agreement.

Power to the people.

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