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Jul 24, 1998

G. Michael Reid on politics and the 10th

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The next two big events on many people’s calendars are the general elections on August twenty seventh and the two hundredth anniversary of the Battle of St. George’s Caye exactly two weeks later. In tonight’s commentary, News Five’s G. Michael Reid manages to look at both.

“Politics, as it has for the past half century or so, predominates life in BELIZE and more particularly so, around the time of general elections. Inevitably as we close in on August 27th, the political atmosphere has become increasingly tense and just about all else in the jewel at this time, sits virtually suspended in a languorous state of limbo. The outcome of general elections after all, determines not only which party will rule BELIZE, but which portion of our people will prosper and even vho will have jobs and who on the other hand, will have to bide their time for the next five years or so.

If in fact, should there be a change of government as some people suggest that there might be, then make no mistake some heads will roll, for sad to say and regardless of what they claim, an integral part of both party’s political agenda is victimization. Yet, while some of those affected might indeed be just political cronies who were granted jobs in return for party allegiance, there is a dangerous domino effect and invariably, it is not only the lame ducks who go but we also lose the valuable services of many competent individuals. Some of these will begrudgingly tighten their belts and adjust to a life of ketch and kill, while others still, will pack their bags and emigrate to await the other party’s return to power. As a result of this process after the last three elections, regardless of which party has won, we as a country have lost and hopefully one day, our governments will be hiring and firing based on what an individuals knows or can do as opposed to whether he has voted red or blue.

Now lost in the midst of all the hoopla of this election year is the fact that 1998 marks a very significant milestone in the history of our nation. It happens to be the two hundredth anniversary of the battle of St George’s Caye and had this been any other country but BELIZE, and maybe even any year other than an election year, then this event might have been awarded the homage and distinction that it deserves. History after all, provides sufficient data to validate this brave and noble tale and in fact, until the widening gap between generations truncated communications, it was a story that was handed down via word of mouth from one generation to the other.

It was in 1898 and actually a hundred years after the fact that a group of citizens decided to get together and start celebrating the memory of this momentous event. They succeeded in having the day declared a public holiday and for ten years or so thereafter, the celebrations went well, until interest began to dwindle. It was at that time that Simon Lamb, a humble tradesman but staunch nationalist, stepped forward and decided to take it upon himself, to keep the spirit alive. He succeeded in rekindling the flame and as a result, not even the calamity of 1931, a hurricane, which struck in the middle of the celebrations and caused two thousand fatalities, were BELIZEANS thereafter, dissuaded from celebrating what had become their day.

While since and even before that time politics has been injected into the historical arguments, I for one believe that what happened 200 years is worth remembering and celebrating. Whether by the descendants of the Baymen, the slaves or even just by anyone who claims to be a Belizean.

With the Last Word, G. Michael Reid.”

The opinions expressed on the Last Word are those of G. Michael Reid and not necessarily those of Channel Five. Viewer comments are welcome.

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