“I will always be grateful to Dr. Aranda for being my ally” – Evan X Hyde
by Khaila Gentle
BELIZE CITY, Mon. July 11, 2022
Dr. Theodore Aranda wore many hats throughout his adult life—UDP leader, Garifuna activist, PUP parliamentarian, academic, and most importantly, a prominent figure in the shaping of our nation, and we at AMANDALA are saddened to learn of his passing this week.
Dr. Theodore—affectionately known as “Ted”—transitioned on Sunday, after a recent decline in health. Many knew him as a politician and scholar; even more persons knew him as an advocate for the Garifuna people. But to the AMANDALA publisher, Evan X Hyde, Dr. Aranda was an ally, as admirable as he was enigmatic. In an interview with KREM News and AMANDALA, Hyde reminisced on the days when he first got to know of the local politician: “I had never heard of Dr. Aranda until he returned to Belize. And he returned to Belize as a high official of—you said on the radio the Peace Corps. I have always been confused, thinking it was CARE; there was an American organization called CARE. but probably Peace Corps. I don’t know—I was in the midst of a lot of turmoil with UBAD because UBAD began in February of ’69 and it was a time of the Vietnam War…,” Hyde said.
Dr. Aranda obtained a Ph.D. in Education from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in 1971. Three years later, he would join the newly formed United Democratic Party and quickly rise up its ranks. He also worked with the Peace Corps in the country and served as its director.
In an interview series titled “Lions of the South”, aired in June 2014, Dr. Aranda told Leonides Sanchez about his foray into the world of politics, which occurred while Belize was approaching independence:
“Since I didn’t see any serious effort by the Opposition—that was the UDP at that time—and by the leading brains of Belize to sort of fight for the welfare of the country and the survival of the country, I started writing articles about it, then eventually the UDPs came to me and asked me to work with them and run with them, and I was more than happy to,” he said.
“I think Dr. Aranda probably joined the UDP pretty soon. He didn’t run in ’74. In ’74 Mr. Paul Guerrero ran for that Dangriga seat for the UDP—he was one of 6 UDP winners,” noted Hyde.
While he did not run in the 1974 elections, Dr. Aranda served as the representative for the Dangriga constituency after it was handed over to him by Paul Guerrero. He would later become one of five UDPs to win their seats in 1979 for the constituency, and would soon after go on to serve as UDP leader from 1979-1983, later being succeeded by Rt. Hon. Dr. Manuel Esquivel.
“He won it [his constituency] in ’79, which is when three district representatives chose him as the UDP leader, because only two city UDPs had won—Mr. Goldson and Curl Thompson,” said Hyde.
While he was known to have lived a private life, Dr. Aranda is recognized for his significant contributions to the development of the nation. Born and raised in Dangriga, he helped to improve his hometown’s drainage system, as well as develop its commercial center, and improve health services in Belize. He was also an advocate for the Garifuna people during a time when the Garinagu and other Afro-Belizeans were subject to extreme racism and discrimination as a result of Belize’s colonial past.
“He had so many outstanding credentials—he wasn’t a carouser. The thing, of course, was this ethnic prejudice in Belize, right? And the racism in Belize has—I’m not talking about just the ethnic part having to do with the Garifuna. It’s very entrenched and can be subtle, and very, very painful; you know how the racism works in Belize. But Belize she, ‘well we nuh have no race problem;’ that’s what they’re always saying—‘oh you bring that from America!’. Well, the British had their own way how they created that racism,” remarked Hyde.
Dr. Aranda’s days as UDP leader have been described as tumultuous, and the terms of his exit from the party in late 1982 have often been debated, but according to AMANDALA’s publisher, the Dangriga area representative had resigned:
“Now he has said to me—Dr. Aranda has said to me—because my impression as publisher/editor of AMANDALA in late 1982 was that they had pushed him out, whereupon they held a leadership convention in early 1983 involving Esquivel, Lindo, and Goldson…But Dr. Aranda has said to me personally that he resigned,” Hyde said.
Aranda later joined the PUP and would regain the Dangriga seat from 1989 to 1993. But before that, Dr. Aranda formed his own party, the short-lived Christian Democratic Party. Years later, he would play another pivotal role in Belize’s history—the planning of the Belize Black Summit alongside Hyde himself.
“Now, I would like to say this before we end, and before I forget, and like I said, I hope nobody takes it disrespectfully: I think Dr. Aranda started as a UDP, became a PUP, and ended up UBAD,” joked Hyde. “Because without him there would not have been a Black Summit.”
Hyde became working allies with Dr. Aranda sometime around the time of the 2003 General Elections. The duo—Hyde’s United Black Association for Development (UBAD) alongside Dr. Aranda’s World Garifuna Organization, which he founded in 2000—began working on the historical Black Summit set to take place in September of that year.
“The World Garifuna Organization travelled to Belize City, I can’t say on how many occasions, but I know we in UBAD also traveled to Dangriga. We held months of meetings to put that Black Summit together, and it was a bone in my throat for many years, and so I will always be grateful to Dr. Aranda for being my ally,” said the AMANDALA publisher.
“A remarkable man, a unique man. He maintained his dignity and privacy, and of course, his people always had that affection and respect for him to the nth degree,” he added.
AMANDALA sends our condolences to the family of Dr. Theodore “Ted” Aranda as well as to his friends and the Garifuna community.