COINTELPRO was a secret and illegal FBI project that from 1956 until its public exposure in 1971 targeted left-leaning activists and organizations. The program first pursued groups that Director J. Edgar Hoover considered political enemies, like the Communist Party and civil rights organizations. It was under this program that Martin Luther King, Jr., was harassed and his phone illegally tapped. In response to the student protests at Columbia University (1968), COINTELPRO initiated a new project to target the New Left and worked to discredit, infiltrate, and disrupt black liberation and antiwar groups, as well as veteran, student, GI, feminist, gay, and environmental groups. COINTELPRO also targeted food co-ops, health clinics, underground newspapers, bookstores, street theaters, communes, community centers, and rock groups. Counterintelligence tactics included spreading lies and disinformation, and encouraging violent, self-destructive behavior through the use of infiltrators and provocateurs.
– pg. 65, WITNESS TO THE REVOLUTION: Radicals, Resisters, Vets, Hippies, and the Year America Lost Its Mind and Found Its Soul, by Clara Bingham, Random House, 2016
You’ve got to also remember that one of McNamara’s great sins was Project 100,000. Project 100,000* began in the mid-sixties when the government could not get the number of people they needed. So one way to simply get one hundred thousand soldiers in the war ASAP was to lower the intelligence standards and physical qualifications that ordinarily would have kept people out of the military.
*Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara described Project 100,000 which drafted thousands of men who had failed the Armed Forces Qualifications Test, as a liberal extension of Johnson’s Great Society. “The poor of America have not had the opportunity to earn their fair share of the wealth of this nation’s abundance, but they can be given an opportunity to serve in their country’s defense and they can be given an opportunity to return to civilian life with skills and aptitudes which, for them, and their families, will reverse the downward spiral of human decay.”
– pg. 209, ibid.
To my mind, Washington did not throw open the doors of the United States of America to Belizeans after Hurricane Hattie with anything else in mind but permanent displacement of our native population. Belize, as we knew it, has been massively destabilized. Someone at State had a plan. (Sometimes, brothers and sisters, and more and more it has become the case, you have to read between my lines. Washington is nothing to play with, as we would say.)
Belizeans in the United States today are scattered, and they are not materially linked and united. But, after the Guatemalan President, Jimmy Morales, made military threats against Belize in the afternoon of Thursday, April 21, of this year, there was nowhere we Belizeans at home could turn except to Belizeans in the diaspora. Los Angeles Belizeans made a stand, New York Belizeans followed, but there was nothing coming out of Chicago. (The New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago communities are the three largest in the Belizean diaspora.) Today, almost four months after that dramatic and scary Thursday afternoon in April, things have gone quiet on the Sarstoon and in the Chiquibul, although the systematic pillaging of Belizean resources by Guatemalans continues unabated.
Chicago Belizeans, it appears, were more interested in partying than in mobilizing for national defence. The news that a Chicago “Belize Day” of partying had been broken up on Sunday evening by gunshots was almost quaint. There had been no statement coming out of any organized group of Chicago Belizeans during all the crises on the Sarstoon and in the Chiquibul, but now Chicago Belizeans had made the news because of a summer street party which had turned violent.
About two months ago, a small group of black-conscious Belizeans gathered in a Belize City home and spent three hours in discussion. That group of seven included Nuri Muhammad and myself. At that time, the Guatemalan issue had not been superseded, as it subsequently has been, by the BTL arbitration tribunal disaster and the William Danny Mason uproar.
In the tiny black-conscious circle which remains in Belize, the news last year that Nuri Muhammad, the first Imam of a properly organized Belizean Muslim community, was coming to work at Kremandala, caught most by surprise. This is because there had been a rift between Nuri and myself which dated back more than four decades. The story of how that rift was healed, is not my story today. I only note here that it has been healed.
On Thursday morning last week I stepped into the KREM Radio studio during the Wake Up Belize show being hosted, as it is on Thursdays and Fridays, by Mr. Muhammad. KREM Radio’s transmitter was being powered by generator. Almost the whole of Belize City was without power. The radio audience was therefore quite limited. This was only two or three hours after Earl had done his damage and gone on his way westwards. Besides the fact that the city was mostly in blackout mode, the technician on duty, Tony Grant, had informed the audience that only one of our station’s three telephone lines was functional.
I decided, on the spur of the moment, to go and sit with Nuri for a few minutes. He had worked through the night at KREM Television, he could not expect much audience interaction, and there was a lot of trauma in the city. This was the first time Nuri and I would converse on air in studio together. The conversation, which I had intended to last perhaps five or ten minutes, ended up lasting thirty or forty. Perhaps it was for the better that our audience was limited. This was a serious, sometimes intellectually explosive conversation.
Nuri and I were there in the early days of UBAD, in the summer of 1969. The United States of America had released the Seventeen Proposals prepared by Bethuel Webster, a New York City attorney, just a year before, in 1968. As we consider the socio-economics of Belize today, and as we examine the nature of the socio-economic realities in Guatemala and Honduras, the Central American republics immediately to the west and south of us, respectively, there is no way that any nationalistic Belizean thinker cannot be greatly concerned about The Jewel’s present and The Jewel’s future. The Jewel is becoming like Guatemala and Honduras. The Jewel is becoming an oligarchy. The Jewel is becoming a police state. The Jewel is becoming a playground of Wall Street and Wall Street-types.
At the apex of our political pyramid sits a Prime Minister with monarchical power. The Rt. Hon. George Price had similar powers, but his were administrations, by all accounts, of Cabinet consultation and Cabinet consensus. Mr. Price’s governments were not one-man operations. The grave problem Belize is facing today cannot be solved by a single brain. More and more, Mr. Barrow’s Cabinet Ministers have been compromised. This cannot be denied, even by his media attack dogs. The fact that the Prime Minister has had to turn to unelected personalities brought into the Cabinet through the Senate, tells the tale of a lack of Cabinet cohesion, a lack of Cabinet capacity, a lack of Cabinet reliability.
To make matters worse for Belize’s parliamentary democracy, the Opposition remains weak. The elected Cabinet Ministers do not feel threatened by the Opposition People’s United Party (PUP) in their respective constituencies. This is a reason why they behave recklessly and irresponsibly. There is no functional Integrity Commission. The Public Accounts Committee is not operational. Belize has not signed on to the Anti-Corruption regime of the United Nations. Our present reality is too much like a free-for-all, where the Prime Minister is king and colossus.
Kremandala is an important institution in this scenario, and Nuri Muhammad is an important man. Check stats.
Power to the people. Remember, remember Danny Conorquie – murdered at Caracol on September 25, 2014.