Man of the year 2011


Wil MaheiaBritish Honduras Gazette December 24, 1971

No. 1535, Ministry of Local Government and Social Development, Belmopan, 16th December, 1971.

BELIZE CITY COUNCIL ELECTIONS 1971. The results of the elections held on the 8th December, 1971, for members of the Belize City Council are published for general information.

Names of Candidates No. of Votes
DAKERS, George Oscar Osborne (PUP) 4,499
COFFIN, William Elijah (PUP) 4,425
LIZARRAGA, Adolfo (PUP) 4, 396
PRINCE, Doyle Andy Ewell (PUP) 4,292
ROGERS, James Leopold (PUP) 4,291
CHAVANNES, Brian Norris (PUP) 4,236
THOMAS, Peter Alexander (PUP) 4,151
USHER, Michael Ashton (PUP) 4,150
GULLAP, Iris (PUP) 4,134
HYDE, Evan Anthony (UBAD) 2,953
BERRY, Rita (NIP) 2,564
BURGESS, Melbourne Elwin (NIP) 2,562
BELISLE, Benzie W. (NIP) 2,551
SHABAZZ, Ismail Omar (UBAD) 2,549
LESLIE, Clifford Liston (UBAD) 2,513
GARDINER, Walter Hubert (NIP) 2,499
ABRAHAM, Thomas (NIP) 2,443



At Amandala, our Man of The Year 2011 is Toledo’s Wil Maheia. We honor Wil Maheia because of his continuing efforts to preserve Belize’s territorial integrity, his crusade to protect the cleanliness of the land, sea and air in the south of our nation, and his innovative campaigns to educate the people of Toledo where sustainable development and intelligent economic choices are concerned.

Wil Maheia is also the Leader of a Toledo-based political party (PNP), which has recently become more closely involved with the Belmopan-based Vision Inspired by the People (VIP). At Kremandala, our policy has been to have our communications facilities open and available for the PNP and the VIP so that they can reach the Belizean people. These organizations are considered “third parties,” and because of Belize’s so-called first-past-the-post electoral system, leaders and supporters of the two dominant political parties, the UDP and the PUP, have traditionally been in a position to treat third party campaigning and candidacies with skepticism, even disrespect.

This is so simply because of the fact that our political system is first-past-the-post. Were our political system to become proportional representation, then the two major parties would have to solicit the support of the smaller parties when they tried to form a government. In Great Britain last year, you saw that the Conservative Party had to forge a coalition with a “third party” – the Liberals, in order to form a government, because, even though the British system is not considered one of classic proportional representation, as is the case in Italy and Israel, for example, still there is a minimum amount of Parliamentary seats a party must have in order to form the British government, which is why the Conservatives had to make a deal with the Liberals.

Proportional representation is a more pure form of democracy, in that more citizens are actually, directly involved in the electoral process, and minority viewpoints have importance. In first-past-the-post, what you will see is that special agenda minorities, such as the Oceana/environmental protection lobby, can find themselves being drawn under the umbrella of one of the major parties, where their views will be ignored once the major party forms the government. We saw an example of that in 1993, when the “third party” NABR helped the UDP to form the government, but the UDP ignored NABR after forming the government and reneged on its pre-election promise to NABR to revoke the Maritime Areas Act.

We are explaining all this so that you understand that we are not honoring Wil Maheia because we are involved with his electoral politics. Wil’s electoral politics constitute an uphill battle because of the first-past-the-post system. At Kremandala, we have personal experience with Belize’s political system, because the UBAD Party (1970-1974), on the foundation of which Kremandala was constructed, was a “third party” which participated in two elections – the 1971 Belize City Council elections, in which the UBAD Party was a junior partner in coalition with the NIP, and the 1974 general elections, in which the UBAD Party offered a single candidate, Evan X Hyde, in the Collet constituency, one of 18 electoral divisions.

Leaders and supporters of the UDP and the PUP still seek to portray the UBAD movement as irrelevant, but the reality of the Guatemalan claim to Belize remains, and it was the ethnic underpinnings of that claim which made UBAD relevant in its time. Today, those ethnic underpinnings of the Guatemalan claim are not as big an issue, but the fact that Guatemala is 40 times larger and more powerful than Belize, remains a real issue. In 1969, when the UBAD movement was born, Belize was about 65 percent black. These were the descendants of slaves who had been forcibly brought here from West Africa by British slavemasters to work in the forests of the Belize settlement. By 1969, the Belize forests had been depleted, and the British wanted to give up responsibility for Belize. The majority black population of Belize was fearful for their future in a scenario where Belize would be dominated by Guatemala. This was the reason for the uprisings in 1966 and 1968 in Belize, and, ultimately, the reason for the birth of UBAD in 1969.

Today, the majority population of Belize is Mestizo. But Mestizo Belizeans seemingly have not been the majority long enough where they are comfortable with asserting themselves, so that the population/culture flavor of Belize has become a cosmopolitan one. Belize is now Mestizo, Creole, Garifuna, Maya, Chinese, Arab, Indian, American, German Mennonite, etc. etc. You can see where special interest groups, like the Mennonites and the Chinese, have recently sought a defined place in the major political parties. But, what about the environmentalists, the various cultural nationalists, the trade unions, and other special interest groups in Belize? As it stands, and as it has stood for decades, they are subsumed under the heading of the two-headed monster – the PUDP.

In frustration, the people of Belize began to change political parties after independence. Every general election, they would put the Opposition party in power. The big, big issue back then was the selling of passports. Every Opposition party promised to stop the sale of passports, and every time the Opposition became the government, passport sales continued.

Finally, the people gave the PUP two consecutive terms, from 1998 to 2008. That did not work very well, so the people voted out the PUP in 2008. The point is that while the first-past-the-post system puts strong, almost impregnable governments in power for five-year terms, there is an almost guaranteed dissatisfaction built into the system. The time has come for proportional representation.

One of the reasons that time has come is Wil Maheia. We can no longer keep Wil Maheia out of the mainstream of Belizean public affairs. Toledo is now our most important district. The stone which the builders rejected, has become the cornerstone. The PUDP will ignore the call for proportional representation. Fine, but because of Wil Maheia and others like him, we can assume that whichever major party is elected in 2012 or 2013, there will continue to be serious agitation in the nation. We Belizeans are seeking to protect our patrimony, and Wil Maheia is one of our leaders.

Happy New Year. Power to the people.

Article courtesy Amandala

About KREM
The idea for the KREM Radio station originated in early 1979 while Rufus X and I were visiting New Orleans. There was a New Orleans deejay I liked, by the name of Sister Love, and one day Rufus and his cousin, Sam Wiley, who was our host, showed me the building where the radio station which featured Sister Love was located. It was quite a modest, one flat structure, much smaller than the three story Albert Cattouse Building from where the Belize government monopoly station – Radio Belize – was broadcasting.

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