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Political murder?

The President’s Intelligence Oversight Board (IOB) conducted a year-long review and concluded that, … several CIA assets were credibly alleged to have ordered, planned, or participated in serious human rights violations such as assassination, extrajudicial execution, torture, or kidnapping while they were assets – and that the CIA’s Directorate of Operations (DO) headquarters was aware of at the time of the allegations.

The report also concluded that, Out of a general concern for the protection of its sources, out of neglect, or for other reasons, the CIA informed neither State Department officials, at the embassy or in Washington, nor National Security Council officials of alleged abuses by assets until late 1994 and early 1995. The “good news” of the IOB report was its conclusion that CIA’s local employees had killed no U.S. citizens, “only” Guatemalans.

– pgs. xxiv, xxv, Foreword by Richard A. Nuccio to the 1999 Edition of BITTER FRUIT: The Story of the American Coup in Guatemala, by Stephen Schlesinger and Stephen Kinzer, Harvard University

There are people close to Kremandala who immediately began to consider the Kareem Clarke murder of early Monday morning, July 6, as an attack on the media institution, a message to Partridge Street. At this newspaper, we were hesitant to take this position; as the police investigation began to unfold later Monday morning, it proceeded along a personal line, rather than a political one. By Tuesday evening, however, when Kremandala journalists aired a surveillance tape of the murder, we had no choice but to consider the politics of our and Kareem Clarke’s situation.

Politics is the biggest business in our little country. Apart from controlling our billion dollar national budget, and the various grants and gifts from interested individuals, groups, and countries, the politicians in power control the illegal drugs in Belize and the illegal drugs moving through Belize. By that we mean that the law enforcement agencies in Belize operate under Cabinet Ministries, and so those Ministries have influence on law enforcement personnel. Since the moneys involved with illegal drugs in Belize and moving through Belize would be at least hundreds of millions of dollars annually, drug moneys routinely corrupt law enforcement personnel on the individual level. But, these moneys also corrupt ruling politicians. Apart from drugs, there are other scams which fill the pockets of ruling politicians and their connected bureaucrats, such as the hustles in passports and visas, human trafficking, rosewood, Maya artifacts, land scams, and so on.

Over the last 12 years, Belize has witnessed the dramatic fall from political power of the People’s United Party (PUP), which won a huge second-term victory in the March 2003 general election, but which has not won any kind of election since then. The United Democratic Party (UDP), which was weak and shaky as late as early 2004, won national municipal elections in 2006 and then crushed the PUP in the general election of 2008.

The UDP called the 2012 general election a year early, and while the predictions were all for a UDP second term, the PUP actually came within 75 votes of winning a 16-15 victory. Apart from the 2012 general election, however, the UDP have easily defeated the PUP in every election since that general election of 2003. The ruling faction of the PUP, focusing on their surprisingly splendid 2012 general election performance, have expressly high hopes for victory in the upcoming general election, expected to be called in 2016.

When the uproar about financial scandals in the then ruling PUP began in July of 2004, it was the workers’ unions, civil society, the churches, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and media houses who first led the charge. The UDP then took over leadership of the popular rebellion against the PUP administration, because the UDP were the “government-in-waiting,” the organized, constitutional political option to the incumbent PUP.

There have been various corruption scandals in the present UDP government, but the Opposition PUP have been unable to galvanize and mobilize the masses of the Belizean people. It is true that there has not been a spontaneous, widespread rebellion of the Belizean people, as there was in late 2004, but the age-old question arises: which comes first, the chicken or the egg? Who should be taking the lead, the Opposition PUP or the people of Belize?

The reality is that the PUP has not done a very good job of bringing pressure on the UDP government, so that some ruling politicians have turned to focusing on individual critics, such as Audrey Matura-Shepherd, a fearless attorney who also writes a weekly column in this newspaper. In their frustration, PUP spokesmen have been lamenting for years that the media is not doing enough to challenge the UDP administration, even though there are individual journalists and commentators at Kremandala, for instance, who have been drawing the ire of the ruling party, if we are to judge from the vituperative comments on the UDP radio/television and in their weekly newspaper.

At this time, it is important for the people of Belize to understand that this game is bigger, much bigger than just a Belizean game. There are wealthy, sophisticated foreign intelligence agencies, with Belizean assets, both official and unofficial, on their payrolls, and they make life dangerous for us at Kremandala. In February of 1998, for example, there was a frightening attempt to take down the KREM Radio broadcast tower, which was then 190 feet high and located in a residential area of the Southside. The nature of the conspiracy was, to use that word again, “sophisticated.” Kremandala was in conflict with the ruling UDP at the time, but the level of the conspiracy was so elevated that we ended up concluding that there must have been foreign involvement.

The Belizean people have historically resisted serious foreign initiatives, such as the Guatemalan claim, the Seventeen Proposals, the Heads of Agreement, and so on. Today, the proposal for Belize to accept a ruling by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on the Guatemalan claim has sparked controversy amongst Belizeans. Where the plans of the rulers of this region are concerned, it is necessary for the resistance of the Belizean people to be restrained. Kremandala has been a historical source of popular resistance in Belize, and we are therefore viewed with hostility by some powerful, interested, foreign parties.

We do not consider the cold-blooded execution of Kareem Clarke to be a simple, straightforward Southside murder. There are things which trouble us here. Perhaps this was the intention of the sacrifice. The struggle goes on.

Power to the people.

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