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Dec 31, 1998

G. Michael Reid looks at the past year

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We end our last newscast of 1998 with the Last Word from G. Michael Reid. Tonight, like the rest of us, he looks back on a year that was filled with changes and tries to make some sense of it all.

“Well, the stage is set, the welcome mat is laid and we stand ready to greet the new annum. Happy New Year Belize, and may the dreams that have eluded you in the past, be yours to entertain in the near future. 1999 is here and from all indications, it should be a very interesting year. The year that was of course, was in itself, a very eventful one and while it was no El Niño, it produced a fair share of adulto drama.

The most prominent saga of course, would have to have been the Mitch scare. Pulling up at our doorsteps on October 27, this category five hurricane gnawed at our nerves for the better part of two days before circling us and leaving death and destruction in every neighboring country. It was the closest we have ever come to totally evacuating our city and poor Belmopan might still be reeling from the impact. Some have suggested that Mitch was in fact, a wake up call but whether that or not, it was certainly a close call. We can only imagine the kind of Christmas and New Year’s we would have had, had Mitch come, and with this in mind maybe we should take a minute before midnight to give thanks one more time.

One calamity that did occur in ’98 was the demolition of the institution known as the B.C.B. Radio Belize, the station which raised our nation, went off the year for good on November 30th, 1998 and poor Seferino Coleman must now be laying sideways in his grave. A new radio station has since come on line since then however, but the wave is not yet making waves.

What did make waves in ’98, was the arrival of a cruise ship called the Leeward. With a crew of 910 avowed homosexuals, the M.S. Leeward laid anchor in our harbor and raised quite a stir among our conservatives. They were going to contaminate the minds of our children suggested the puritans, but that very same week, as if in a display of blatant hypocrisy, a book for children was released at the Bliss Institute by a man who has made no qualms about his sexual preference. Fortunately however, the Leeward came and went and our people have shown no noticeable change in their sexual habits. Then of course, many are the closet doors that are closed from prying eyes.

1998 was also the two hundredth anniversary of the Battle of St. George’s Caye and as if in commemoration, armed Spaniards invaded for the first time since. A group of well armed bandidos laid siege to the Hummingbird Highway for almost two hours, relieving Belizeans of all their valuables and leaving behind, a dead Genaro Che. The culprits were never caught and the brazeness of it all, exposed a serious flaw in our security. Hopefully, we will not see another incident of that sort.

1998 saw the passing from our midst of a few distinguished Belizeans. Among them was the courageous and admirable soul of Juliet Soberanis. Mr. Neat and Clean must by now have heaven thoroughly spick and span and was this year, no doubt playing Santa. Famous pianist Helen Craig also went to join the heavenly choir and activist Julian Cho, who departed under quite mysterious circumstances, is now busy mobilizing the indigenous tribes of heaven.

In the U.S. of A., a few notables also checked out, including the man known to many as “ole blue eyes”. Frank Sinatra joined the rest of the rat pack and he, Dean Martin and Sammy Junior must now be making sweet music on the night shift. Both Gene Autrey and Roy Rodgers, two cowboys who were about as famous in Belize as they were in America, went on to ride the heavenly plains. And a man once hailed as a hero in Belize, Harry Caray, is now calling games for real saints and angels. Beautiful and talented track and field star Florence Joyner Kersey ran her last lap in ’98 as she succumbed to epileptic seizure. To those who have gone on, we bid adieu and at least one of the toast tonight will be for you.

1998 of course, also saw a change in political hue as the crimson tide was swept aside by a sea of blue. The P.U.P. won general elections by an overwhelming 26-3 majority and is now hovering near the realm of absolute power. There seems a little trouble getting their proverbial train started however, and let’s hope that ’99 will bring the right fuel.

In sports, while semi pro was mercifully taken off life support, basketball still had a banner year as our boys struck gold at CARICOM. Thousands of Belizeans stood proud and sung loud the words to our National Anthem and that one moment for me, was the highlight of 1998. Word is of course, that many of the financial commitments to those players and coaches were not honored and consequently, we might never again see that team in action. What a shame, for those boys sure could play ball.

Now 1999 will be of course, the eve of a brand new millennium and some have forewarned of trying times ahead. The Microsoft guys who control the computers which control the world, have been inkling of some impending doom bug known as Y2K. The artist formerly know as Prince, is singing about the party being over soon and even the mighty Nostradamus has pointed a finger at our era. The way I see it, however, if we could pray away Mitch, we can weather any other storm.

Happy New Year Belize and may ’99 be your most prosperous yet. 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.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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