Leroy was an extraordinary man, a man of great depth and complexity, but the bottom line was that he stood for the people. In that stand, he had come to believe that organized religion in Belize, his native land, had become part of the problem where Belizean liberation and development were concerned, instead of being a part of the solution. Dr. Taegar decided that his death should not become part of a process wherein the inadequate status quo would be confirmed and glorified.
Of all things, Leroy Taegar detested ignorance. He fought against ignorance, because he believed it was the greatest tool of our oppressors. In Belize, the system of education is dominated by denominational religions. In the twelve or so years Dr. Taegar spent in Milwaukee, Chicago, Jamaica and Trinidad doing studies at the tertiary level which culminated with his becoming a physician, he became convinced that the people had to be educated in order to be liberated. The fact of the matter, however, was that the churches which controlled Belize’s education had faith as a priority, and sometimes education can become a threat to faith. In Belize, faith rules. Straight like that.
We admire Leroy Taegar for his brains and for his bravery. There are Belizeans, before him and after him, who have challenged how the system operates in Belize, but it is seldom that they sustain this challenge to the end. Leroy was the real deal.
We understand from people older than we that Leroy Taegar became an ardent supporter of the young People’s United Party (PUP) while he was still a teenager attending St. John’s College in the 1950′s. The son of a waterfront worker, Leroy Taegar grew up experiencing the hardships of life in colonial British Honduras, and he saw the philosophy of the early PUP as anti-colonial and progressive. He embraced that philosophy.
When Leroy Taegar returned to self-governing Belize after all the aforementioned years of tertiary study, the PUP he met in 1971, 1972, was not the PUP of 1954 and 1955. His decision to seek to become the PUP Albert Division standard bearer was a decision which was undermined by the PUP leadership. The PUP leaders wanted Leroy Taegar to be an educated factor in the party, but their actions indicated that they wanted the late attorney Joseph Grey to remain in charge in Albert. There are those who believe it that the PUP thought it was convenient for Mr. Goldson to hold his seat in Albert.
We mention the incident of Leroy’s betrayal by the PUP leadership, which took place in 1975 or 1976, for the historical record. He continued to work with the party, and was appointed an executive official (Youth Organizer) and then chosen as a PUP candidate for the December 1977 Belize City Council elections.
After those elections, however, Leroy went on to become an inspirational guru for many of us who were grappling with the problems in Belize. Had he been successful in his Albert bid, we wonder how life would have been different for Leroy. Those of us who learned so much from him, prefer things to have worked out the way they did. Leroy Taegar was victimized, but there were those of us who benefited from his heroism. Leroy was the real deal. We celebrate his life and mourn his death. We honor him, totally.
Article courtesy Amndala