There are natural explanations for almost all earthly phenomena, but very many Belizeans prefer supernatural explanations. What we see on the Southside of Belize City is a once vibrant community which has become self-destructive where a significant proportion of our young people are concerned. The unraveling of the Southside human fabric does not have anything to do with God or supernatural forces, in this newspaper’s opinion. And the partial solution which was offered a few months ago, a partial solution which was working quite well, did not have anything to do with God or supernatural forces.
At the same time, it is a frequent sociological development among populations which experience traumatic reverses of various kinds, for those populations to become more deeply immersed in religious activities. In the Yucatan in the second half of the nineteenth century, this is what happened to the fierce Santa Cruz Maya after their Caste War opponents began to gain the upper hand. The Santa Cruz Maya then developed the religious cult of the Talking Cross, which apparently assisted their community in the continuation of their resistance to oppression. In the case of the African American slave populations in the Southern United States, they relied on various Christian faiths for strength during their slavery and post-slavery travails, so much so that it was from these Christian faiths that the early leaders of the post-1955 black civil rights struggle emerged.
In 2017, our explanation for the murderous civil war now going on amongst Southside youth is basically a Marxist-Leninist one. Immorality and sin are not the reasons for this internecine violence. The problem is Southside youth who are growing up without relevant education or productive skills, and who do not have the ability or possibility of becoming gainfully employed. Not only do these young people face the crisis of finding sustenance each day, but they also experience healthy hormonal urges, become sexually active, and begin young families, thus increasing their economic responsibilities.
Let’s stop here and go over what we are saying. These youth are human beings, made in the image and likeness of God, as we would say. They are born into an independent nation-state called Belize, and in the case of many Southside neighborhoods, things begin to go wrong at an early age. In many Southside neighborhoods, the children begin to fall behind early where relevant education and skills training are concerned. Whose fault is that? Self-righteous Belizeans blame the parents of these children. But, in secular, modern consciousness, it is the state which is held responsible for the education, training, and well-being of its citizens. A nation’s political leadership is, ultimately, those who are empowered to find the solutions to the problems.
In a previous paragraph, we categorically describe the explanation for our Southside violence as Marxist-Leninist. There was a time in the settlement of Belize when the captains of industry in the forestry sector, the Baymen then, could not find enough workers to fall logwood trees, later mahogany trees, and to perform relevant tasks. So, these Baymen industrialists bought African slaves who had been captured, chained, and transported to the Caribbean from West Africa. By the time of the Battle of St. George’s Caye in 1798, the majority of the population in Belize was comprised of the African slaves. The Baymen represented capital, and the slaves provided free labor.
The slaves were freed in 1838, and forced to scuffle for themselves. In 1862, Belize became a British colony, a status which the native Belizean people began to resist and reject in an organized fashion in 1950. After more than thirty years of agitation, Belize became an independent nation-state in 1981 with all our territory intact.
Now, how did the people of the Southside survive after slavery and during colonialism? Well, forestry remained the primary industry in Belize until the early 1960s, when forestry was essentially replaced by the sugar industry. The Southside had been gainfully employed in forestry-related activity, such as the Belize Estate sawmill on Mapp Street and the waterfront at the old Customs buildings at the Fort. The Southside produced self-employed tailors, seamstresses, machinists, tinsmiths, bakers, butchers, fishermen, small business people, and so on. There were even special individuals who opened private, non-denominational primary schools and music schools.
The bottom began falling rapidly out of Belize’s forestry industry in the 1960s, and a large Southside migration to the United States began. Families were divided and fractured by the migration, and after independence came in 1981, the Belizean system of law and order began to deteriorate. A big problem was increasing political interference in the judiciary, and growing corruption and incompetence in the judiciary. The introduction of crack cocaine in the mid-1980s soon led to the formation of gangs originally patterned along the lines of the Crips and Bloods in Los Angeles.
On the Southside of Belize City in 2017, unemployed, uneducated youth are fighting for food and survival, and the high-profile growth industry is drugs, and activities related to drugs. It is surely a terrible sin to kill your brother man, but how about when he is trying to kill you? It is universally agreed that self-preservation is the most powerful instinct in human nature. Our youth are killing each other because they want to survive. How were the conditions created which led to this bloody urban civil war?
There are people who will want to tell you about God and Satan now. But, the fact of the matter is that it was international white supremacy which brought our ancestors in chains to these shores. And, it was international white supremacy which abandoned us here. What do you think BEC, Coca Cola, and Lord Michael Ashcroft represent? And when we were abandoned, we had political leaders who emerged and sold us out. That is why, to a man and to a woman, our political leaders are rich, and the masses of our people are poor.
We have not sufficiently explained to you our understanding of Marxist-Leninist analysis. The Marxist-Leninist believes that the two most important realities in modern socio-economics are capital and labor. In the beginning, to repeat, the Baymen were the capital and our ancestors provided free labor. In capitalist societies, such as Belize is, the labor goes to wherever the capital is. In capitalism, capital rules. Those elements of labor which have remained in the Southside have found that there is no capital in the Southside. The economy is dominated by merchants, and they do not offer any employment. Thus, labor, in desperation, has turned against itself on the Southside.
Now, it is for sure Satan can lead you into sin, and just as for sure that God can comfort you when you are in distress. But when it comes to the daily Southside crises of hungry people, the solutions are not supernatural. As forestry declined, Southside workers went more and more to the sea, but tourism has cluttered the fishing sea lanes near to the old capital. Deep sea fishing should have been a government-subsidized solution, because tourism is capital-intensive: not only does labor not have the accumulated capital to invest in tourism, but tourism does not offer a dignified solution for labor.
You and I know that the Southside should have also gone to the land when we were going to the sea. Do you know that in the United States and Europe, governments are still subsidizing their farmers in various ways? The Southside’s political leaders, heavily influenced by the merchants, never committed to agriculture as a solution because the Southside population was historically hesitant to go rural. But, that was before the coming of Rasta. Southside youth have been changing their thinking about the land. Before the foreign immigrants buy out all of Belize’s land, the Southside’s political leadership must consider the land as an urgent solution for the murder crisis on the Southside. Yes, political leaders before you have ignored such a solution. But, murder is murder, blood is blood: this is the most serious emergency of our time.
You will note that we have not explored the wonderful Williams/Finnegan/Muhammad peace initiative on the Southside earlier this year. Our political leaders pulled the rug from under that initiative: they are yet to tell the Belizean people, why. But, that is what political leaders do in Belize: they betray us, especially on the Southside. In Belize, political leaders give, and political leaders take away. Blessed be the name of our political leaders.
Power to the people.