Have you heard the ads for Belize real estate on the radio? They tout the country’s stable political system, proximity to the United State, native English language, clement weather and relatively cheap land prices. Paradise on earth? Not if you violate the country’s gun laws. Last week, a Belizean judge sent a mother and her two-month-old baby to jail after police found a single bullet in her home. How politically stable can a country be with this sort of draconian gun control regime? Stable, perhaps, but not free. As the following editorial (republished with permission) from the publisher of amadala.com.bz proves . . .
Every now and then, I have a hard time producing a column. One of the reasons for this is that I am not a machine. A second reason is that there are times I have to swallow things I’d really want to say.
I saw a story some days ago where a nursing mother with a two-month-old baby got remanded to prison because the police found a bullet in her home. The whole family was taken away to jail. I really thought we had found a way to take the fangs out of our stupid gun laws, but the vicious predator, made in the U.S.A., is still with us.
In these modern, urbanized societies, we live in large groups of human beings. We have laws and regulations which guide and govern our individual conduct, and these laws and regulations exist so as to reduce the amount of friction among us; laws and regulations are supposed to facilitate us in our daily interactions with each other.
Some of these laws and regulations are relics from the time when Belize was British Honduras, which is to say, a colony of Great Britain. Other laws and regulations were products of our government’s need to cater to the priorities of the mighty United States of America, our new bosses. Belize’s police department is absolutely “gung-ho” about chasing down weed and weed smokers. Even our army is enlisted in this “anti-herbs” campaign. The Belize war against weed is in fulfillment of an agenda made in Washington, D. C.
The gun and ammunition laws were passed, our legislators said, to make it difficult for our gangs to obtain the guns and bullets they need to rob law-abiding citizens and to murder each other. These laws were first introduced about twenty years ago, and I think they have been amended once or twice. Today, all of us Belizeans know that these are laws which are abysmal failures, if we are to judge failure or success on the basis of the original intent of the laws.
What the guns laws have succeeded in doing is to intimidate and victimize innocent citizens who live in certain targeted neighborhoods. The laws are draconian, and they have contributed to the ever-growing sense in the Belizean people that we are not in control of our own destiny.
How free are we, Belizeans? How much power do we have to run this Belizean show we call our own? To what extent does the superpower United States of America interfere in our reality? These are relevant questions, and they are serious questions. How can these questions be any more relevant and any more serious than when they address a situation where a two-month-old baby is deprived of its mother’s breast milk because a bullet was found in a dwelling in which she resides?
The frigging bottom line of the gun and ammunition laws is that the magistrate has to send you to jail because this legislation reverses everything we know about British common law and considers you guilty until you can prove your innocence. Why the hell shouldn’t you be allowed to get bail if a single bullet is found in an abode where other people live with you?
I hold Ya Ya Marin Coleman in high esteem because she has the courage of her convictions, as it is said. Ya Ya has been putting in work, for real. Single-woman protest, however, will not accomplish anything. Belize is ruled by party politics, under the umbrella of the invisible power structure, and party politics is all about human numbers.
In early 1970, the UBAD organization, which I led, came into direct conflict with the ruling People’s United Party (PUP). In UBAD, we said we were revolutionary, but there is no doubt that the PUP at foundation in 1950, just twenty years earlier, had been a truly revolutionary movement. Inside the PUP the people of Belize stood up against the great United Kingdom.
The people of Belize supported their leaders in the fight for self-rule. In the first seven years of the PUP’s existence, incidentally and lost in history, its base strength came from the General Workers Union (GWU), a trade union which had been established in the 1940s.
The people of Belize apparently believed that we accomplished something of permanent upliftment when we became politically independent in September of 1981. In the 33 years since then, there is only once when I have seen the people of Belize rise up en masse in the population center to make a point on a national issue. This was late in 2004, when there were financial scandals in the Social Security Board (SSB) and the Development Finance Corporation (DFC). The popular uprising of late 2004, however, was quickly taken over by the Opposition United Democratic Party (UDP).
It seems to me that when any of the two major political parties takes over anything, that is the end of it, because the two major political parties are the instruments through which the invisible power structure of Belize, in collusion with the forces of imperialism and neocolonialism, controls the will of the Belizean people. The two political parties are “responsible” organizations. But would you say that the gun law is a “responsible” piece of legislation? Personally, I would say that both the weed law and the gun law serve the interests of Buckingham Palace and Washington, D. C. So now, what is it that we are independent of, Belizeans?
There is a need for the people of Belize to be educated politically beyond the colors, slogans, and flags of party politics. It is said that the price of freedom is eternal vigilance. But the weed law and the gun law in independent Belize suggest to me that we are not free. Before we can be vigilant, we have to be educated about the nature of freedom.
Remember, there was a time when we were enslaved, and for sure we knew we were not free. The white supremacists, in their calculated brilliance, then introduced a disguised form of slavery to us, and they called it colonialism. When we got hip to how degrading colonialism really was, the white supremacists, in a burst of renewed calculated brilliance, said, listen up, we’ll give you independence.
Okay now, can’t you see, Belizean people, that this game is bogus? The evidence is the weed law and the evidence is the gun law. These are not Belizean laws. These are oppressive laws. The PUDP are in bed with white supremacy. Power to the people. This is a must.