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Jan 23, 1998

G. Michael Reid on politics

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When News Five’s crew of reporters and cameramen headed off to Belmopan this morning the passenger list also included the name of G. Michael Reid. Although Reid’s essay for tonight had already been written, the commentator discovered that his words were still applicable to the situation at hand.

“This is the story of a nation which stands as a lone English speaking country in a region where just about everyone else speak Spanish. Seventy-five percent of this country is forested. Yet the majority of the inhabitants live on a relatively un-forested ten percent near the sea. Land of the free is their decree and they even boast of being gem-like. In the early 1950′s politics was introduced to this former British colony and two native sons arose as prominent leaders. For a while they were aligned but with different ideologies. They drifted apart and soon after wound up heading separate political parties. We shall hereafter refer to these two P’s as party number one and party number two. Party number one proved without doubt to be the more dominant of the two and upon being elected into office governed the tiny nation for the better part of three decades. During it’s long tenure in office party number one did a decent job of holding things together and was even able to secure independence along the way. Party number two, who all the while had to settle for being just that, number two, after a persistent and insistent twenty eight years in opposition was finally able to get elected.

Now having been in power for the past five years it is time for an election, but then a strange thing happens. The leader of party number two, now the number one party in the land and who incidentally or should we say coincidentally is married to a white woman born in a foreign land is stricken by a fatal heart attack.

Now before anyone gets nervous or celebrate as the case may be let me assure you that as far as I know our honorable prime minister is in good health. This is not a criticism of his choice for a wife, for I consider Mrs. Esquivel to be a fine first lady. It is not a prediction; it is not a revelation of something hidden. It is not even about BELIZE! Though except for the very last part about the heart attack it very well could be. Yet, our parallelism with Guyana is so uncanny that we cannot afford to not pay close attention to the events that are unfurling in what has been declared our sister nation.

On the 15th December, Guyana held national elections and Janet Jagan, widow of the late Chedi Jagan who died in office last year was elected president. A difference that should be noted here is that while Janet Jagan has been active in Guyaneese politics since 1953 our very own first lady has not revealed aspirations toward that end. Another difference is that while our political parties are separated based on the color of a flag or rag if you will. The spilt in Guyana is based on the color of skin. Not black and white but dark and darker. Fifty-five percent of Guyana is East Indian while forty percent is black and as a rule never the twain shall mingle. In Guyana a black man can be shot dead for marrying an East Indian woman and although the prejudice is not as intense vice versa. It is quite bad and getting worse.

Here I believe we can thank God that except for a few who would promote racism. Our biggest problem in this area is in deciding whether or not to let a gay ship dock. As far as our political makeup however BELIZE and Guyana might be as alike as peas in a pod. Consider this in 1959 the PNC which is one of Guyana’s two main political bodies merged with a smaller party called the United Democratic party or U.D.P. While Guyana’s history is marred by political unrest however, BELIZE has remained relatively tranquil. Yet the atmosphere in this country has grown increasingly tense over the past few decades and what with re-registration and the recent halabaloo in the House of Representatives and all no telling what lurks ahead. An election date will be set for sometime this year and once agreed upon we will have to invite nonpartisan observers to oversee the process. Once the votes are counted and the voice of the people heard all must heed. Whichever side loses will have to accept and respect the decision instead of embarking on the usual smear campaign. We should thereafter join hands toward the goal of making BELIZE a better place for our children. The proponents of violence in our country have loud voices, but for our own good we must not allow them to instigate us into destroying our sweet little BELIZE. We cannot allow their selfish egos to be fed with innocent blood.

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. 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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