The broad masses of us Belizeans now know, beyond a doubt, that something has gone seriously wrong in Belize, at least for us native Belizeans, since independence. The stark evidence of our socio-judicial collapse is the fact that our young men have been murdering each other, with basic impunity and seemingly indiscriminately, for more than the last quarter century.
The irony of our present situation is that the class of Belizeans (non-working class) who argued most vehemently against independence for Belize may have been the ones amongst us who benefited most, who have climbed, in fact, to an elite financial status where they live apart from the chaos on the ground and do not appear all that troubled by it.
What happened, you see, was that those who had been arguing against independence since 1950 finally came to power in 1984, just three years after Belizeans took full control of Belize’s reins of government with sovereign independence.
This newspaper supported the United Democratic Party (UDP) in its 1984 campaign for power 100 percent. I would say both Rufus X and I risked our lives in that campaign. Personally, I had no idea how pro-American the UDP leadership was, in the first instance, and I had no idea how much they would completely embrace sovereign independence primarily because it facilitated the fabulous enrichment of a section of Belizeans who had been in the political wilderness for decades.
No one in Belize ever talks or writes about this, but it is critical, in the search for an understanding of The Jewel’s post-independence era, to investigate a dramatic phenomenon which began to take place just a few years before independence. That phenomenon was a bridging of the political separation between the high-ranking attorneys of the then ruling People’s United Party (PUP) and the then Opposition UDP. You can’t understand what happened after 1981 and 1984 if you don’t appreciate that The Jewel became a case of rule of lawyers. During the process of attorney empowerment here, Belize lost the rule of law which had characterized British Honduras. The PUDP lawyers subverted our legal system: they polluted the purity of the law. (My personal theory is that the pioneer law firm in the new PUDP paradigm, circa 1978, was the Staine and Barrow law firm. In addition, it is our belief that the PUP Deputy Premier/Minister of Home Affairs, C. L. B. Rogers, had initiated talks with the UDP law firm of Pitts & Elrington a couple years before that, at the time of the Silky Stewart shooting case in 1975.)
Am I saying that colonial law was pure? Well, it was certainly disguised as such, but the foundation of the colonial law was white supremacy and England uberalles. But, insofar as the relations amongst natives were concerned, British Honduras’ colonial law dispensed justice for Belizeans. And that’s all I will say on that for now.
The schools in Belize remain a farce where colonial truth is concerned, because the schools are controlled by the clergy, and the clergy are in the service of Europe and England. If the schools in Belize had been seriously interested in the truth, then the study of the first half of the twentieth century would have been focused intently on Isaiah Morter and Robert Sydney Turton. These were the two natives who beat the colonial system of impoverishment. They were, in effect, our greatest anti-colonialists. Morter was a black Belizean, Turton a mulatto one.
The sense I have is that Isaiah Morter became a financial force in British Honduras mostly by following the guidance of his African elders – roots rock reggay. Morter’s was not a story of a native following the precepts of primitive, colonial, church education. Turton was a primary school dropout. He had almost no formal education.
Where am I going with this? In the early 1920s, Morter tried to bequeath his wealth to Marcus Garvey’s cause of black consciousness (“African redemption”), both in Belize and internationally, but his intent was frustrated by specific circumstances surrounding Garvey and by the colonial judicial system. In the 1940s, Turton was the driving force behind Belize’s crusade for self-rule, the same crusade which finally reached fruition with sovereign independence in 1981. Isaiah Morter and Bob Turton were marketplace entrepreneurs: bottom line, they created jobs for Belizeans. How many jobs have these flashy, multimillionaire PUDP attorneys created?
Presently and personally, the discourse with respect to the April 10, 2019 International Court of Justice (ICJ) referendum has been a source of cruel stress for me. I have family members who are very close to me who are on opposite sides of the discourse. One is my younger brother and one is my eldest son. I’m not sure where this drama is headed. I feel overwhelmed by the size of the issue. If this is a sign of old age, I plead guilty, absolutely.
I had a laugh reading Major Lloyd Jones’ Reporter column this week where he referred to the pro-ICJ five Foreign Ministers as the “Peten Five.” These were five attorneys (Barrow, Musa, two Shomans, and one Smith) – one the UDP Prime Minister, another the previous PUP Prime Minister, and three former PUP-appointed Foreign Ministers. I like Major Jones because he shoots from the hip. I give respect to you, Major.
Do you know that four of those five Foreign Ministers have defended this newspaper in the Supreme Court over the decades? The sedition and libel cases they pleaded were done pro bono by the four. The reason for their “kindness” was because those of you Belizeans who have supported this newspaper over almost five decades have been very important in the calculations of these specific attorneys on those particular occasions.
If you want your child to be comfortable financially, we all know the law would be a good career choice. But attorneys do not create wealth in the society. It is our humble farmers and ranchers and fishermen and workers who create wealth. More than that, it is not Belize’s working people who are responsible for the collapse of discipline in Belize. Belizeans live in fear in January of 2019 because the PUDP attorneys, who have, visibly and invisibly, assumed real power in Belize since independence, have watched, apparently with no pressing concern, as The Jewel’s law and order have gone to the dogs. I will await a reply.
Power to the people.