It is appearing to us that Belize has slid downwards into a state of affairs we would refer to as “recolonialism.” For sure, the trappings and symbols of independence are in place, and in a couple months’ time we will be watching all the September pomp and ceremony to celebrate 1798 and 1981. On the daily ground, however, we are again a subject people, and our new colonial masters are the international bankers. The Belizean nation owes a ton of money, is involved in dangerously expensive litigations on many fronts, and Belizeans, as a people, have become addicted to living above our means.
The generation of 1950 which condemned British colonialism and struck out for the shores of independence, was a brave and visionary generation of Belizeans. Some of that generation were skeptical, believed the concept of self-rule to be chimerical, and they began to migrate to the United States. Many Belizeans, nevertheless, stayed the course, and they were rewarded with self-government in 1964.
There was a process which began in 1950s Belize after the first wave of our migrants settled in New York City and New Orleans, then Chicago and afterwards Los Angeles. That process was the process of acquiring American tastes. At home in Belize, we began to judge everything by the standards of the United States, which was undergoing their own American process – the process of becoming the richest and most powerful nation on planet earth. The boxes and barrels our loving relatives were sending us from America infected us with a high-minded virus: all things Belizean slowly lost their ability to satisfy us; everything had to be American.
When television arrived in 1982, it sealed the deal. Our Belizean products, assets, and way of life became boring, disappointing. We learned about cocaine, and our young men became American-style gangsters. Our young ladies became hooked on fast money. The level of our Belizean sports could not compare with the quality of television sports. We abandoned our own boxing, football, and basketball. The change of the school holidays in 1964 had been undermining our culture from the year it was introduced. For decades now, we’ve been borrowing money to send our children to spend the school holidays in the American cities. Some of our teachers got there first, blowing their savings on American clothes, jewelry, shoes, etc. We’re keeping up with the Joneses.
There is an elite class of Belizeans who can afford to have American tastes in their homes, vehicles, clothing, vacations, and so on. These are business executives, highly qualified professionals, the top attorneys, ruling politicians and other Belizeans we may refer to as the “smart money.” Generally, the “smart money” sees the trappings and symbols of independence for the cosmetics that they are, and that Belizean “smart money” is living the life.
There is anger at the base of the Belizean pyramid. The anger is not a focused anger. The two-party parliamentary system is still doing a satisfactory job of providing Belizeans with what appears to be an alternative. The anger is not desperate; the anger is not yet rage. At the base, Belizeans hope to win the various lotteries. Belizeans dream of getting an American visa. Belizeans hope. Belizeans dream. Belizeans are living in a world of make-believe. Belizeans are in debt, individually and nationally. Belizeans have lost control of their destiny. The will of the people is disrespected repeatedly. This is recolonialism. Under colonialism, we did not have a national will. Now, we do, but the national will is not respected. What’s the difference?
The Rt. Hon. George Cadle Price is considered the “Father of the Belizean Nation,” because he got us there in 1981 with all our territory intact. These days in Belize, the issue has again become the Kek’chi Maya of the Sarstoon/Temash, and we wonder how Mr. Price would have dealt with the matter of U.S. Capital Energy vs SATIIM. This is a very, very important issue, because it has to do with Belize’s life vision and development philosophy.
At Kremandala, over the decades we never paid much attention to the Belizean diaspora in the United States, because we had experienced humiliation when we reached out to the New York City diaspora in January of 1972. That experience scarred us. But, life goes on, and things change. Kremandala has begun supporting various rights for diaspora Belizeans. As we write this editorial, we wonder how diaspora Belizeans view the dispute between the oil company and the Kek’chi Maya, with the Government of Belize openly taking the side of the oil company.
If Belize is to survive as a nation, we think our nationhood process has to be inclusive, especially with born Belizeans. We can’t be keeping Belizeans out: we have to bring them in. We suspect diaspora Belizeans know little about the faceoff between U.S. Capital Energy and SATIIM. It is important that Belizeans from New York to Los Angeles, and from Chicago to Houston and Miami, become informed and get involved in the matter. Suppose, for argument’s sake, a poll of diaspora Belizeans showed that they support U.S. Capital Energy over SATIIM. Such a poll would enlighten nationalistic Belizean thinkers. In our case, this newspaper supports SATIIM, and we also support diaspora rights. Suppose the Belizean diaspora does not support SATIIM: we would have to choose between the two.
The most important point to be made is that independence means we Belizeans have the right to decide our own destiny. This is what recolonialism seeks to subvert in our national will and national dignity. The time is past for Belizeans to grow up. This world is a vicious competitive one. There are no free lunches on planet earth in July 2013. Some of us Belizeans dream of the pie in the sky. We speak for those of us who want ours right down here on earth.
Power to the people. Power in the struggle.