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October 05
13:05 2018

“Military invasions are gross violations of international law and for our senior officials to be rolling that out as if it is a legitimate option for Guatemala is a good indication of why we are in this mess. No leadership, no vision, no courage!” –

Major Lloyd Jones, Facebook post, September 27, 2018

All of Belize became alarmed, and rightly so, when on Monday 24th September, the Minister of National Security sent the Chiefs of our security forces to shamelessly push the Yes-to-the-ICJ agenda. Many people were horrified that the Commander of the BDF and the Commandant of the Coast Guard allowed themselves to be placed in such an unholy position.

Few people were shocked at the zest with which DCP Chester Williams undertook his political assignment because the Belizean people have long suspected that politics has permeated the upper echelons of the Police Department. It is an open secret in the BPD that politics is the locomotive to which one must hitch one’s career if it is that one wishes to become Commissioner. It was that very political infestation that led the now disgraced former head of the GSU, Inspector Mark Flowers (as he was then), to attack a sitting Member of Parliament in September of 2014 without consequences. In fact he was promoted shortly thereafter to Assistant Superintendent.

The Belizean people have always respected, admired and trusted the BDF. The Belize Coast Guard since its formation has enjoyed the same level of respect, admiration and trust as the BDF has. This is so because both the BDF and the Coast Guard have always insulated themselves against politics and for the most part they have been able to remain well above the political fray. It is precisely because they have remained professional that the people of Belize believed them to be in their service and not in the service of the politicians. Again, the Police do not enjoy this same level of respect, admiration and trust. They have squandered it because some in their so-called high command are more concerned with personal advancement than about serving the Belizean people.

So why would the Commander of the BDF and the Commandant of the Coast Guard gamble with the good name and reputation of their respective departments by doing the political work of the Minister of National Security? The CEO and DCP Williams went to great lengths to tell us that this is not a political issue and that we should not be deceived into thinking that it is. They did this because they very well know that politics is the province of politicians and not that of professional military men. So they tried to convince us that this is not political. Of course it is political! The Belizean people are being asked to make a political decision on how to deal with Guatemala’s unfounded claim. Somewhere along the line the Minister of National Security decided to use the Chiefs of our security forces to frighten the Belizean people in to a particular outcome. How can that not be political?

The much talked about “education” campaign has now been exposed to be nothing more than a propaganda campaign designed to lead us to the ICJ; its skewed design is at once deliberate and political. If the “education” campaign is being led by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs what business does the Ministry of National Security have in this if not to unduly frighten the Belizean people into a Yes vote?

In our democracy the BDF and the Coast Guard are subject to the authority of the civilian leadership. It is that very civilian leadership that ordered them to stand down along our borders leading to the annexation of the Sarstoon and continued rape of the Chiquibul. If they can be ordered to not defend our territorial integrity and they obey, how are we to believe that it is not the selfsame political leadership that ordered them to the media to push the Yes vote?
The BDF since 1978 has been building its credibility and reputation with the Belizean people; the Coast Guard has been doing so since 2005. How then can the Minister of National Security decide that he will spend some of the hard earned currency of trust that the security forces have earned from the Belizean people? And how could the Commander of the BDF and the Commandant of the Coast Guard let him?

It is deeply troubling that DCP Williams, in the presence of the military chiefs, kept echoing the earlier pronouncement of Sedi that it is either the ICJ or war! On the several occasions that DCP Williams did that neither the Commander of the BDF nor the Commandant of the Coast Guard disassociated themselves from such an incendiary and reckless position. Sedi was being Sedi when he made that pronouncement earlier and he was excoriated by the Belizean people for it, but his pronouncements never scared the Belizean people. Somebody therefore made the decision that a pronouncement from the Chiefs would be sufficient to scare the Belizean people. If the people who are responsible to defend Belize are so scared of war that they rather chose the ICJ and risk losing territory, then surely that should scare the rest of us. Once more John Saldivar has misjudged the Belizean people. The Belizean people were brave in September of 1981 and they will be brave in April of 2019.

We all know that John Saldivar wishes to be the next Prime Minister; but he knows very well that the majority of the Belizean people are not in support of the ICJ so he wishes to cowardly hide behind the Chiefs of the security forces in order to push his ICJ agenda. The other two men who wish to be the next Prime Minister both support going to the ICJ but they have been more measured in their zeal.

It is doubtful that DPM Patrick Faber will get his senior people in the Ministry of Education to go on a media blitz pushing the “Ministry’s position” and it appears that John Briceno’s PUP won’t be doing the same either. So that leaves big bad John all by his lonesome: history will either hail him a man of vision or a traitor. For now many people are betting on the latter.
Some people say that certainly as citizens the Chiefs are entitled, just like the rest of us, to their opinion on how to vote. They are right but it must be pointed out that the Chiefs were not on the media sharing their personal views. They were on the media pushing the position of the Ministry and to repeat that position is a political one.

It is clear that the Chiefs don’t understand how much they disappointed the vast majority of the Belizean people. Whereas the military is subject to the instructions of the civilian leadership they should never allow themselves to be used as stooges. Every right-thinking Belizean knows that if John Saldivar was on record as supporting the NO vote there is no way the Chiefs would have been on the media pushing a YES vote. They were either instructed to do the media rounds or they were currying favors. Therefore they are either cowards or stooges!

In the intensifying war of words both sides have accused each other of fear mongering. Those advocating for the NO vote have properly warned that there is a risk that we might lose territory if we go to the ICJ under the current circumstances. The Yes supporters call that fear mongering! That is hogwash of course because the Belizean people have made it abundantly clear that whereas they wish to settle this matter, the loss of territory is not an option. So if the Belizean people are fearful of going to the ICJ it is because those leading this process have not assured us by reasoned presentations that we will not lose territory. At the last town hall meeting Sedi was forced to acknowledge that there are litigation risks and if those risks play out some of us could become refugees. What’s not to fear about that?

To counter the NO camp Sedi and now Chester have begun to tell our people that it is either the ICJ or war; talk about fear mongering! How can you compare fear of losing territory before a court with the fear of an arm invasion? Sedi was wrong to have presented such stark choices to the Belizean people but John Saldivar (by way of Chester) borders on treason for offering war to the Belizean people. War is not a legitimate choice to settle Guatemala’s unfounded claim and for our high level officials to be saying to the Belizean people that it is, makes me wonder exactly in whose service are they?
Ask yourself this, Belize. If our own government has given us a choice; ICJ or war and we reject the ICJ, would that be sufficient pretext for Guatemala to invade us? Will Guatemala view the Ministry of National Security’s position delivered by Chester Williams on September 24th, as an invitation to invade us? Guatemala is obviously playing a chess game and we are obviously playing checkers! You have eyes, beloved, please see!

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