By Wellington C. Ramos
I read an article written by the owner and publisher of the Amandala, Evan X Hyde, several times and I disagree with him that the Creoles have collapsed. It is more accurate to say that they are losing power. The Creoles are in the position that they are in due to the ethnic, economic, historical and political transformation that has been taking place in our country over the years.
Born in Dangriga Town, the cultural capital of Belize, Wellington Ramos has BAs in Political Science and History from Hunter College, NY, and an MA in Urban Studies from Long Island University. He is an Adjunct Professor of Political Science and History
The indigenous people of our country are the Mayas and they were there for centuries before the Spanish and the British came to this part of the world. Both the Spanish and the British governments implemented many inhumane policies to deprive these people of their native land and eradicate their culture but failed. In the neighboring countries of Mexico, Guatemala and other countries in Central America, the native Mayas are still treated as third class citizens.
The people who are of pure European blood or mixed with Europeans, known as Mestizos, control these countries economically and politically.
In Belize, the British brought African slaves into our country and brainwashed many of them to look at the native Mayas and other ethnic groups as people who are inferior to them. Like the Mestizos, many of these slaves had children for their white slave masters through duress and other means and the label "Creole" was used to identify them, which is not their true African identity of origin. This was a part of the British plan to continue brainwashing these African people to make them submissive and embrace British culture over their own.
As Belize started to develop into a colony, the Creoles were always alongside the British, with the Mayas and the Garifuna people at a distance, in all their curfew and isolationist segregated laws. It was as if they never existed and were living in a different country. Belize needs to enact laws to provide equal opportunity to all citizens and end all forms of racism.
The Maya people fought against both the Spanish and the British to try and end their atrocities but they were unsuccessful. The Garifuna people also fought against these Europeans in their native homeland Saint Vincent ("Yuremei"), namely, the Spanish, French and British until they lost the war in 1796 and then were forcefully removed to Roatan in 1797. From there they migrated to Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala and Belize, where they currently live.
The British did not allow any physical relationship between the Creoles and the Garifuna people for many years in Belize despite the fact that they both share a common African ancestry. While most Creoles live in Belize City up to this day, the Mestizos are scattered all over the country of Belize and have the largest population. They have contacts with all the various ethnic groups.
The Garifuna people share ethnic roots with both the Creoles and the Mestizos but have better relationship with the Mayas and the Mestizos due to their geographic location in the southern part of Belize. Also they were teachers in most of the villages throughout the history of Belize and developed trust and a long working relationship with them during those times. Since 1981, when Britain granted independence to Belize, George Price with his economic policies diverted most of our nation's wealth to the Corozal and Orange Walk Districts. This is despite the fact that Stann Creek and other districts’ contribution to the GDP has always been substantial.
Politically, electoral districts were made also to increase the amount of seats in those districts and Cayo, while the seats in the south remain the same. These hard facts are before the eyes of all, yet it is still business as usual with us.
Belize is lucky to have the passive Garifuna people of today, who are the ancestors of warriors that have lost their lives to make them exist. How long will this continue to remain the way it is, no one knows. The Creoles and the Garifuna people must unite together to advocate as Belizeans who are deserving of their universal rights in our country of Belize.
It is not about political control but economic control. Economically, the Mestizos are better off than the Creoles and the Garifuna people today. They are asserting themselves and taking the initiatives to prepare for their people and we must do the same.
Our people still have some chances to assert ourselves and achieve economic security. Many of our people still own land that they can use to cultivate their own food instead of just selling it for mere pittance. God gave us a mind to think and become innovative and find ways to uplift ourselves out of long term poverty. People from all over the world are becoming Belizean citizens and are trying to get a piece of Belize. In the end, it is not only about the Creoles losing or gaining power but the government of Belize providing for all Belizeans in a just and equitable way. We do not want a Belize where one group has all the power and the other groups become powerless, because that will lead to racial tensions.
Currently, the distribution of our nation's wealth is unequal. Poverty exists mostly among black people and there is no program to eradicate it. We cannot only depend on the government but must come together and confront this monster.
This topic is difficult for me to write about while I think about and witness my people’s struggle daily to provide for themselves and their children. Where is the economic plan for the southern districts of Belize to make the citizens wage earners? For years now we have been changing representatives and political parties, with no significant development taking place. It is like when we keep shuffling the cards to play poker and we can't find the "jokers".
I am getting older and I have lost faith in false promises because they have now become comfort for fools indeed, if they are believed. We tell our people to attend schools and, after they have graduated and incurred huge debts, they cannot find employment to pay for their education.
Belize will have to come up with a plan to maximize our nation's natural resources to economically develop our country and end all human suffering. My motivation for making my comments is because, as a Garifuna person who has children that are mixed with Creoles, who knows and has travelled my country of Belize extensively, intermingled with people from various ethnic groups and is against all forms of racism, I see things from a different perspective.
This was an important article written by the publisher and I think more people should state their opinions on it and don't engage in whisper campaigns. This is the only way we will be able to heal our racial wounds and build our nationalism.