“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. – That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. – That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. – Such has been the patient suffering of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.”
– Excerpted from “The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America …” – July 4, 1776
The Mexican dictator, Porfirio Diaz, who ran Mexico from the late nineteenth century until the early twentieth, once famously pitied Mexico for being “so far from God and so close to the United States.” Belize is pretty close to the United States, the greatest economy in the world since World War II, and the vast majority of us Belizeans have always looked at our proximity to the United States as a blessing rather than a curse.
The late Venezuelan leader, Hugo Chavez, following in the historic footsteps of his own country’s Simón Bolivár and Cuba’s José Martí, believed in a future for the Americas (Central and South) and the Caribbean where the United States was not the bully boy on the block, and where the nations of the Americas and the Caribbean could work together towards a future where they decided their own destiny and were able to resist being dictated to by Washington.
In line with his vision, Chavez began to use some of Venezuela’s oil revenues to assist the smaller economies of the Americas and the Caribbean. It appears to be the case today that Venezuela is a much more substantial benefactor of Belize’s than is the United States. I’m talking about direct economic assistance. If one factors in the indirect economic opportunities in the Untied States which are available to Belizeans because of our aforementioned proximity, then the balance sheet changes.
But, even though Venezuela has been giving Belize more assistance than the United States for several years, the masses of Belizeans are more pro-American than they are pro-Venezuelan. This is because of history, language, culture, and proximity. In protecting our sovereignty, however, I think that we Belizeans need to be less embracing and more critical of American foreign policy.
An emergent anti-UNIBAM element in Belize has come out with virulent condemnation of American liberalism with respect to homosexual rights, same sex marriage, and the so-called LGBT agenda, and they have condemned Washington’s efforts in pressuring countries like Belize to support said homosexual rights, same sex marriage, and the LGBT agenda.
I had never heard any criticism of American policies from these people before. The Seventeen Proposals of 1968 were sufficient proof for me that the United States was more in support of the Guatemalan claim than they were in support of Belizean sovereignty. In addition, I could not understand how Belizeans could accept being drafted and sent to fight in the Vietnam War without exploring the option of returning home. Even though I was on an American government scholarship between 1965 and 1968, I had become a total Belizean nationalist. I had also become a disciple of the black power movement.
The United States is a great country. Apart from its economic and military strength, the U.S. tolerates much more dissent than Russia and China, its chief rivals, and is a much more open society than they are. American foreign policy, nevertheless, has been abusive in our region. American foreign policy has only focused hitherto on ensuring that we lesser countries are safe for American citizens to travel and live and that we are profitable sites for American corporations to invest. The recent push to have our countries liberalize our sexual morality complicates matters somewhat.
The American people traditionally know little about countries like Belize, and they care less. America’s elected politicians concentrate on Washington’s strategic interests, which are military and anti-narcotics in nature, and on suitable investment climates for their corporations. America’s political leaders do not care about human beings in countries like Belize, and neither do American voters.
With respect to Belize’s relationship with the United States, it is clear to me that the law of diminishing returns has kicked in for Belizeans. I can’t declare definitively that we’ve lost our country, but I can say for sure that it’s not looking good. After Hurricane Hattie, it was a case where we felt that we could have our cake and eat it too: we could move to America and make money, and still maintain our home base in Belize. A lot of us got lost in America. A lot of us. When we come home, it’s when we’re deported. And home don’t look like home no more. We got what we wanted, but we lost what we had.
To be truthful, I often wonder whether this was ever really “our” country. Looking back, I would say that there was this kind of golden period between the late 1950s and the late 1960s when we had fought off British colonialism and we were going to be sovereign and independent. But remember now, before self-government we were mere “British subjects”: the country belonged to Buckingham Palace, not to us.
So then, who owns Belize now? It ain’t us. The little land that we owned, we sold it to people from abroad who treasured it more than we did. Being a kind of colony of the United States was never something that worried Belizeans. When we were fighting British colonialism, we were waving the American stars and stripes. We were pretty cool, you know. We were Brer Anansi, smarter than Massa from sunrise to sunset. Today, we’re paying our dues. Life is tough.
Overall, our parents gave us a fighting chance in The Jewel. I hope that we have given our children and grandchildren the same. Back then, we had a bad crush on America. Today, Belizeans know that we have to think for ourselves. I don’t think this liberalized sex morality issue is as important as some people are making it out to be. That’s because I know Belize to be a sinful place. And I know Belize to be a hypocritical place. If the only thing you find wrong with America is same sex marriage, and if you believe Pat Robertson can lead us to nirvana, I think you need to be educated about the nature of imperialism and Belize’s history of resistance.
Power to the people.