Faithful readers will note that I missed my last two column commitments, in part, I think, because of the Chrislyn Gladden and Jawmaine murders. Chrislyn was the daughter of one of Raiders’ friendly rivals from semi-pro basketball days, Stadium’s Byron “Scott” Samuels, a really nice brother. And the accused murderer was Jawmaine’s 17-year-old daughter with his common-law wife, Marinette Flowers. I can imagine Byron’s brutal trauma, my maximum sympathies, and then the cruel pain experienced by Jawmaine and Marinette. A week later, Jawmaine himself was shot and killed. These two murders devastated our community.
I had a friendly relationship with Jawmaine’s late dad, Ernest “Presley” Meighan, a unique and controversial brother who died in the mid-1990s. When we began UBAD in 1969, Presley was one of C. L. B. Rogers’ “soldiers,” or became one around that time. So, we were serious street opponents.
In 1975, however, under crushing pressure from the surging UDP, I met several times with the aforementioned Mr. Rogers, then the PUP Deputy Premier, and we made a working alliance. At that point, then, Presley and I were on the same side. The friendship we forged lasted through my breakup with the PUP in late 1980/early 1981. (Incidentally, Presley was a professional painter.)
The morning when Presley died in the Belize City Hospital was a Friday morning, when I was under newspaper distribution pressure. Jawmaine came to the newspaper office early that morning to tell me that his dad was not doing well and wanted to see me. I made the decision to continue with my work until 10 a.m. By that time, Presley had passed.
I will always regret not having seen him before he died. Presley was a child of the streets, and definitely a sinner. But, we were friends. Presley adored Mr. Price, and he held Mr. Rogers in awe. He was 100 percent PUP.
To see his teenaged granddaughter charged for murder and his superstar son murdered within days was a lot to accept. A lot.
The heated discourse going on between Major Lloyd Jones (retired) and members of the Belizean community in the United States (Nigeria, too) is of great importance for those of us who are Belizean nationalists. The individual Belizeans who are participating in the discourse must understand that they are speaking for thousands and thousands of us when they marshal their arguments in print, on electronic media, or in the social media.
This may intimidate some of those participants, but I am sure Washington is watching these exchanges closely, because the Diaspora Belizeans have the power to change the way the socio-political game is being played in and with respect to Belize. London is also watching the exchanges keenly, as are Guatemala City, Mexico City, Havana, and Kingston, perhaps even San Salvador and Tegucigalpa.
Our demographic paradigm began to change in a radical way after Hurricane Hattie in 1961, and the changes in Belize’s population structure were precipitated by Washington because of the United States’ foreign policy insistence on protecting Guatemala’s eastern flank and supporting Guatemala’s claim to Belize. The demographic change is now a fact: it has been a reality for more than three decades.
Washington (and “friends”) will do whatever they can to prevent any kind of reversal of that population change, because it was a change Washington desired and one which Washington promoted and facilitated. The Belizeans at home and abroad who are participating in the present debate do not realize how big the game is that is being played. Anywhere there is oil abundant, nowadays there also is conflict abundant. Consider Iraq, 2014.
The United States, after their “shock and awe” invasion of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq in 2003 and later a much publicized withdrawal from same a couple years ago, have recently been drawn right back into the sectarian violence of oil-rich Iraq. Barack Obama must feel like Michael Corleone: just when he thought he had gotten out, he is drawn right back in.
The craziness of the situation in Iraq has to do with the fact that the Shi’ite al-Maliki government was being supported by both the United States and Shi’ite Iran, who have been sworn enemies since the Khomeini revolution of 1979. The Islamic State rebels who recently took Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, and are threatening the capital, Baghdad, are Sunni Muslims who are being financed by Saudi Arabia, Washington’s strongest and most important ally in the Middle East. Obama was in the contradictory position, as long as he was supporting al-Maliki, of siding with Iran’s allies against Saudi Arabia’s allies. So now we see the Americans trying to push out al-Maliki. Complicating the situation in Iraq are the Kurds, who are an ethnic minority sitting on rich oil fields who have ties to the Kurdish population in neighboring Turkey.
The violence and stress we have been experiencing in Belize are nowhere near the violence and stress today in Iraq, Syria, and in the Gaza. But Belize’s level of violence and stress is new and frightening to my pre-television generations of Belizeans. Because of the oil fields in Belize and their strategic importance to Washington, violence and stress in Belize will probably get worse before there is any reduction in same. Unfortunately, my job is not to tell you what you want to hear: I’m here to tell you what you need to know.
Power to the people.