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Saturday, September 19, 2020
Home Editorial The wasteland

The wasteland

Many Belizeans do not realize that the nation’s population center, Belize City, does not presently have a franchise in the semi-professional football league. In Belmopan, by contrast, the four-time area representative, Hon. John Saldivar, was controlling three semi-pro football franchises – Belmopan Bandits, Belize Defence Force (BDF), and Police (in his capacity as Minister of National Security where BDF and Police were concerned), until he lost the Police section of his Ministry after the William Danny Mason/Pastor Lue scandal last year. Today, Mr. Saldivar controls the Bandits and BDF franchises.

In a situation such as the one that has existed for more than a quarter century in the old capital, a situation akin to civil war among the youth from different neighborhoods in Belize City, one would have thought the politicians of the ruling United Democratic Party (UDP) would have ensured Belize City’s representation in the semi-pro football league. Remember now, the Southside of Belize City, where the UDP controls six of the seven political constituencies, is the ruling party’s stronghold.

A couple months ago the ruling party essentially dismantled a Southside truce apparatus when the Cabinet transferred Senior Superintendent Chester Williams from the streets of the Southside to a desk job in Belmopan. The murder statistics since Williams’ transfer have substantially confirmed what Belize City observers had predicted at the time of the transfer: the peace was broken and wanton bloodshed resumed in the socio-economic wasteland which Belize City has become.

The two phenomena – Williams’ sudden, dramatic transfer and the non-existence of a Belize City football franchise, are related, in our opinion. The two phenomena indicate that the core group of our population most negatively affected — urban, mostly black youth, is not a priority concern on the UDP’s agenda. And yet, election after election since 2006, the UDP polls many more votes on the Southside than the Opposition People’s United Party (PUP) does.

There are people who know about such matters who have said to us that there is a grand plan for Belize City which does not include the youth who are the descendants of the dominant Belize City population of colonial days. The grand plan calls for Belize City to become a giant tourism center which features the waterfront facing the Caribbean Sea. It being the case that the prevailing winds come from the east and southeast most of the year, areas such as the seafront we know as Yarborough (and since 1984 as Port Loyola) will come into major play, but the core population which now inhabit these areas needs to be relocated. The native population has to be relocated before they realize how valuable their properties are. Grand plan, big people.

The civil war on Belize City’s Southside is an ongoing human tragedy, but the grand plan of the venture capitalists explains why the emergency education, sports, and other government programs which should have been put in place for our young people, beginning in the early 1990s, have not been introduced and subsidized. It has taken a long, long time for Belizeans to realize that Belize City, which had been Great Britain’s colonial administrative center and had been the only place in British Honduras where some basic human services, such as secondary school education, hospital care, and banking services were being offered, was becoming a wasteland a quarter century ago. The socio-economics of Belize City had become such by the early 1990s that everyone who could move out, was doing so.

Few of us paid much attention to the fact that, simultaneously, immigrant investors were buying up all the strategic pieces of real estate which were becoming available in Belize City, and they were throwing up huge ferro-concrete buildings, a move which appeared paradoxical when you considered the increasingly negative socio-economics all around them. There is something going on here, but the natives don’t know what it is. Only the native politicians and attorneys understand the grand plan. The same people who were brought here in chains to build the settlement in forestry days, have now become dispensable, and even undesirable.

What has happened here is very sad, and it is even more sad that we roots people are the ones doing the damage to each other. Animals in the bush have now become more treasured than human beings on the Southside. At some point, our people have to cast aside our colonial mentality, the mentality that someone is responsible for us, that someone will take care of us. In retrospect, this was where independence failed us: our education system remained colonial and childish. Out here in the real world is a “big boys’ game,” to borrow the words of Zach Randolph once again. 2017 is no time to be singing nursery rhymes.

As we write, out there in the real, real world, angry men are threatening to destroy nations with nuclear weapons. The Donald Trump presidency has various implications for Belize, apart from nuclear Armaggedon. Belizean movement to the United States is being reversed. In Belize City, our community is already stressed out because of having to absorb all the single mothers and orphaned children who became indigents after all the murders and incarcerations. We have been absorbing deportees for years now. What happens when that number becomes a flood?

The leaders who moved out Chester and who are comfortable with Belize City not being represented in semi-pro football are not leaders who worry about single mothers and orphaned children and deportees. These are leaders who are so rich and selfish they only see as far as their credit cards and foreign bank accounts. Deep inside the wasteland, for such leaders this is just a case of it is what it is. It is they who said it themselves.

Power to the people.

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