Publisher — 01 December 2018
From The Publisher

Brutus, and Caesar. What should be in that Caesar?
Why should that name be sounded more than yours?
Write them together, yours is as fair a name,
Sound them, it doth become the mouth as well.
( – JULIUS CAESAR, Act I, scene ii, lines 142-145)

There were some extraordinary minutes on PLUS TV on Tuesday morning when Don Hector Silva and Ms. Sandra Coye kept calling the station, one after the other, the other after the one, one after the other … The hosts, Pastor Louis Wade and Mr. Carlos Santos, sat back and graciously allowed the two senior citizens to flow, interact, and, dare I say “preach”?

Belize is a tiny society. Apart from going to university for three years in New Hampshire, a state in the United States, I’ve never lived anywhere else. For the life of me, I cannot imagine how anywhere else in the world could be as provoking as Belize where pressuring people of quality to compete against each other is concerned. Belizeans love to promote duels and contests between top ranking individuals.

Well, to be sure, this is how promoters make money in sports all over the world. We human beings want to match superb individuals or teams against each other to see who will win. Many of you will remember all the hype surrounding Mayweather and Pacquaio. Apart from the fact that fans will spend big money to be present in person at such events, people bet crazy money on the outcomes. When the opponents have reputations which are big enough, most human beings are willing to put their money where their mouth is, to gamble on their opinion.

Now, Don Hector and Ms. Sandra were not in competition Tuesday morning. They are riding the same horse. Both passionately reject the idea that Belize should submit her borders to International Court of Justice (ICJ) arbitration.

When I began to conceptualize this particular column on Tuesday evening, I was focusing on Don Hector and Sandra in their realities as elders. Sandra is a year younger than I, while Don Hector is maybe 12 or 15 years older than I. As a matter of fact, I remember watching Don Hector play football when I was a child. It would have been at the old Edwards Park. Don Hector was a wing. He was small and lightning fast. He was rated very highly indeed. It appears that he entered Cayo and national politics as a very young man. In fact, I have heard Don Hector claim that he was one of the founders, or original figures, in the People’s United Party (PUP), which was organized in 1950.

In my column last Friday, I explained that I had not been writing for a few weeks because of different reasons. I did not specify all the reasons. One of the reasons, perhaps the most important one, was that I was going through a contemplative period where I could see clearly how significant the leadership roles of my two older sons had become, one in politics and the other in media and union activities. At the same time, it seemed to me that in 2018 their generations have become more immediately relevant than mine.

Listen here, I’m not playing around with false modesty or anything like that. The younger generations are the majority: they are the ones who will decide April 10, 2019. The fact that they are not as informed about the Guatemala issue as Don Hector, Sandra, and myself, for instance, will be neither here nor there at ICJ referendum time. What is here, is who the hell is to blame for the fact that the strategically vital younger generations are not as informed on the Guatemala issue as we geriatric Belizeans are, we who are the products of the education system in the colonial era? What went wrong with the independence militancy anyway?

There were Ministers in the independence Cabinet of 1981 who saw Belize’s political sovereignty as a personally transformative process which moved them from the status of being mere mortals to the level of divinities. I do not include Mr. Price in that number. For Mr. Price, whatever his faults, independence represented a long delayed dream: a seminarian who had returned to secular life, Mr. Price always saw himself as a shepherd of the Belizean flock. He did not indulge in consumerism, carnality, or materialism. I do not include Assad and Said in that number. After 1981, they were still youthful, revolutionary nationalists. Things fell apart in the 1983 chairmanship convention, when the new divinities, crazed in their greed and arrogance, triumphed, and destroyed the socialist agenda.

The chances are that Don Hector, a wunderkind in the 1950s and 1960s, would have been a member of the divinities but for his missteps in the later 1960s and early 1970s. I have heard it said that Don Hector had begun to drink: an apologist would argue that perhaps he had no more worlds to conquer. Whatever the case, in the 1969 general election when the incumbent PUP won a landslide 17 out of 18 seats in the House of Representatives, Don Hector barely defended his Cayo North seat: he defeated the NIPDM’s Joe Andrews by a single vote.

So it was that coming into the October 1974 general election campaign, Mr. Price sent Assad Shoman to take over Cayo North. Don Hector entered a place previously unknown to him – the place of nonentity. He ran in the 1984 general election as an independent Cayo North candidate, probably contributing to the PUP incumbent Assad Shoman’s loss to the United Democratic Party’s (UDP) Dito Juan.

It may have been that the years in the shadows were good for Don Hector. His energy, memory and analytical prowess are phenomenal for his age. He is a walking masterpiece of Belizean political history. A promoter would see all kinds of fascinating possibilities for hype if one were marketing a public faceoff between Assad, arguably the leading, certainly the most flamboyant, advocate for going to the ICJ, and the great Don Hector, who is “no” to the bone on the ICJ. As it is, however, with absolutely no disrespect to the Don, the dream matchup for promoters and fans would be Assad versus Sandra. Straight like that.

It will never happen. We, the Belizean masses, would pay any money to witness such a duel. That is because this is what we love as Belizeans: watching the putative best in public confrontation. We want to crown a winner,but if we are to go by our behavior at beauty pageants, we are often more interested in the discomfiture of the defeated.

The thing is, diamonds are created by pressure. The discourse to decide if Belize goes to the ICJ or not, will reach its most scintillating if we can get the big people to stare down each other. And, if that sounds frivolous to you, here is my riposte: what could ever be more frivolous than the fact that when Guatemalan children were being taught “Belice e snuestro,” Belizean children were being taught British nursery rhymes? Talk to me.

Power to the people.

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Deshawn Swasey

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