Monday, December 10, 2012

To John Mcafee

Dear John

We’ve been worried about you, and are happy to hear that you’re safe in the hands of the Guatemalan authorities. We are worried about your health, physical and otherwise, but it sounds like you’re in good hands and presumably receiving the best treatment money can buy across the border.

It’s also good to hear that the jails are so much better there, and the “excellent” coffee must be an added bonus. At least it will keep you going until you’re back home and near a local Starbucks.

Now that you are safe and sound and have some time to relax and reflect, we wonder if you can answer a few questions I and my fellow Belizeans have. We appreciate that blogging is keeping you very busy, so we’ll keep them short.

First of all, what kept you on the run? OK, we get it that you were frightened. Having a neighbour gunned down in cold blood would disorient anyone, and spending the night buried in sand watching the police go in and out of his house, if that’s indeed true, couldn’t have been fun.

But given the fact that Mr Faull was a neighbour that you were not on good terms with, your being well known as a guns enthusiast and, let’s be honest here, the reputation you’ve made for yourself in our otherwise peaceful little country, it seems reasonable that the police would at least want to speak with you.

OK, you have had you own problems with the police and feared that you wouldn’t be treated fairly and impartially.

But really, once you made such an international uproar and very cleverly drew so much attention to your case, did you really think even the most malicious cop would be stupid enough to see any harm come to you while in custody? Come on. You’ve lived in Belize. We’re not that stupid.

Which leads me to the next point. You keep saying that you love Belize. It’s your home and you want to stay here. But everything you have said about Belize and Belizeans paints a pretty horrific picture. “Corrupt officials.” “Pirates.” “All gringos look alike to the average Creole” And so much more.

Boy, I’d hate to see how you describe a place and people you don’t like. I mean, who would want to live in the sort of hellhole you describe? And what contempt you must have for the people who live under such a yoke of oppression. Your attraction to young Belizean girls and affiliation with gang members is well documented, but what about the rest of us? Are we all corrupt, or stupid or cowardly?

Maybe you’ve just been hanging out with the wrong people. Most visitors here seem to really like Belize and Belizeans. Then again, maybe, just maybe, you have an ulterior motive…

You’re entitled to your views, which you have so rigorously and very cleverly shared with the rest of the world, but allow me to disagree. Perhaps I’m still aglow with patriotism after celebrating our 31st anniversary of independence, but bear with me.

John, I love Belize. I don’t have millions of dollars, waterfront mansions and a lot of physical comforts, but I’ll tell you what I do have. A country that has been blessed with such beauty that people travel the world over just to see it. Warm, friendly intelligent people I’m proud to call my fellow Belizeans. A participatory, Westminster style democracy we inherited from Great Britain that is the envy of the region. A well trained police force that upholds clearly defined laws with checks and balances built into the system to ensure that it works.

I’m not saying it’s perfect, and I’m not saying that corruption doesn’t exist. Just like in your own country, there are bad apples, opportunists and career scumbags. We face the challenges any developing country in this global economic climate does. We try to get by.

But to smear the name of the entire country and all of us the way you have is unconscious able. How can you say “I love Belize” and in the next breath, for your own means, very deliberately paint an ugly picture that you know is untrue?

You know that since independence we have depended on tourism to uplift ourselves, send our kids to school and put food on the table. And then you take the one thing that is so important to us, our image and international reputation, and trash it for your own selfish ends.
Why would anyone reading your lies and distortions want to come here? And for every potential visitor you helped turn back, that’s one less dollar some hardworking cook, tour guide, driver, cleaner or other person will make this Christmas.

And now, of course, it sounds as if you might be sent back here. John, what were you thinking? You’re educated enough to know that countries don’t grant political asylum to people who are free to return to their own country. You are a US citizen and free to return there. Why did you choose to seek asylum with our neighbour while continuing to badmouth Belize?

It fits the picture you are painting, doesn’t it? Bolsters the fantasy you are trying to sell to the world at the expense of the people who welcomed you here.

John, I think I speak for many Belizeans in asking that you show a bit more sensitivity when speaking about people who have always welcomed you. Remember, you came and stayed here on you own free will. To be honest, you haven’t been the best of guests, but in the interests of compassion and fair play we’re willing to hear your side of the story and let an educated public weigh up the facts before making any judgements about you and your involvement in this tragedy. I mean, a man’s been killed and left a grieving family that is looking for justice and closure- that’s what’s really at stake here.

So enjoy the coffee and you last days in Guatemala and please give a thought to the people of Belize and the family of Mr Faull when you return. You could help the police bring an end to this tragedy.

Yours truly,

Lucius Blackstone

John, I just received an update that now you want to return home to the US. Wow, what a turn-around. It makes sense though – the magazine, book, television and film rights to the story you so artfully constructed are going to be another money-spinner for you. You are a very, very clever man and obviously have a knack for making money. That’s OK. Most of us in Belize have a very different set of values to yours, and I believe that the poorest Belizean working hard to support the family he loves is infinitely richer than you will ever be. And for that, you truly have our sympathy.
Merry Christmas