In 2013 Belize, the Americans are doing a pretty good job of controlling their profile, though not nearly as smooth a job as the British did in Belize between self-government in 1964 and independence in 1981.
I remark on this because I’ve always wondered if there were areas where the British were enjoying the discomfiture which UBAD caused the ruling PUP, most dramatically in 1972. I think the intelligence information which the British would have enjoyed at any specific time during self-government would have in many cases been superior to that of Belize government intelligence, as has been the case with American intelligence here after independence, that is, its often being superior to Belize government intelligence.
In the absence of evidence to the contrary, my feeling is that it was the Americans who tipped off the recently elected Esquivel government in July of 1993 that PUP operatives were trying to buy off San Ignacio’s Salvador Fernandez and Dangriga’s Chiste Garcia. In 1993, no law existed to prevent a UDP area representative from crossing over to the PUP side of the House, and in 1993 if Salva and Chiste had walked, the seat numbers would have changed from 16-13 UDP to 15-14 PUP!
We know that the Americans have been recording all international telephone calls which involve specific Belizeans from four decades and more ago. This is how the Belizean businessman Dickie Gardiner ended up serving a second term in American prison: the Americans taped his international phone calls and used them to convict him of conspiracy.
So my guess is that in July of 1993 the Americans were listening to the conversations of PUP cronies in whom they had interest, and they overheard chatter about Fernandez/Garcia. It could have been the British, of course, but they are always so low-key.
When an attempt was made to take down the KREM Radio Belize City broadcast tower in February of 1998, our knee-jerk reaction on Partridge should have been to blame the ruling UDP. All the political evidence pointed their way. But the sabotage was so sophisticated in its planning and execution, I began to think it was the work of First World operatives. This is not to say that those First World operatives could not have been in the employ of the ruling UDP, or were enjoying friendly relationships with same.
Insofar as the May 29, 1972 UBAD riot/uprising, here’s what intrigues me. A police jeep in which an Inspector Allen rode, led that UBAD parade all the way down Albert Street and then all the way up Regent Street. During the course of that section of the parade, at which point night had fallen, every single glass display window on Albert and Regent was smashed. But, there was no alarm given to police headquarters on Queen Street or the paramilitary barracks at Ladyville.
How do I know this? About two hours after the first glass smashing began in the parade, I was on a bicycle coming from the King’s Park area of the city. I stopped in at the home of a UBAD officer at the corner of Castle and Lancaster Streets, whereupon I was informed that the glass smashing had turned into something more serious. I realized then that, on sight, I would be grabbed for “conspiracy,” so I decided to disappear.
I headed for North Front Street and began riding down North Front towards Mapp Street, with the intention of crossing the Belcan Bridge into the Southside. Around the time I was passing the Cardinal Hotel (this is like opposite to where the Mennonites have their businesses between Mapp and Douglas Jones) I heard vehicles come screaming around the curve from Mapp Street into North Front. With my bicycle, I dove into the tall grass on the hotel’s side of North Front. From that prone position, peering through the grass, I saw several paramilitary vehicles with armed personnel, some of whom were not fully clothed, driving at high speed towards the center of the city.
Look, the ruling PUP and UBAD were in a state of war in May of 1972. If UBAD was marching, as it was on May 29, and night fell, as it did, then the security forces should have been in a high and heightened state of alert. What happened? Let’s say the Belizean security forces were asleep, as it seems the paramilitary were, you can’t tell me the British at Airport Camp, charged as they were with protecting British property and British lives, and mindful of July 1919, didn’t know the center of Belize City was blowing up. As a friend of mine has a habit of saying, “There’s a wheel within a wheel …”
In the United States, they declassify most secret documents after a forty- year period. I don’t know about the United Kingdom. No matter, I would like Mr. Englishman to tell me what he knew and when did he know it. That’s only a wish, of course, and wishes ain’t horses.