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#416683 - 09/20/11 03:01 PM Happy 30th Birthday Belize – quite a journey!
lorenzogonzalez Offline
September is always a huge month in Belize, with the Battle of St George’s Caye Day on September 10 leading up to the biggest holiday of the year – September 21, Belize Independence Day!
For many of us, it’s hard to believe that it’s been 30 years since that long awaited event, and each year the celebrations seem to get bigger as Belizeans from all over the country (and a fair few overseas) take the time out to acknowledge and vigorously celebrate just what a special, unique Caribbean paradise the Jewel has become.

The story of Belizean Independence is as colourful as the country itself, and it’s only fitting this time of year that we briefly recount the many steps leading up to Belize taking her place among the sovereign, independent nations of the world.

It all begins, of course, with the Maya, who today make up some 10% of the population, and began settling in present day Belize sometime around 1800 BC. And no wonder… stunningly beautiful with a wealth of natural resources, fertile soil, navigable rivers and a coastline teeming with marine life, – not much different to the Belize of today – it must have seemed a perfect place to start one of the most advanced civilisations the world has ever seen.

At the height of the Maya Empire, they had established huge cities with over 100,000 inhabitants and beautifully constructed, towering pyramid temples (the tallest buildings in Belize to this day are the Maya temples of Caracol and Xunantunich).
The Maya independently invented the concept of zero, and their mathematical equations continue to amaze scholars. Among the world’s very first paper makers, the Maya developed a system of writing that expressed complex ideas and concepts, and their astrological calculations and predictions still impress scientists and scholars worldwide.

However, and perhaps with lessons for us today, the Maya civilisation went into decline around 900 AD, and the arrival of the Spanish Conquistadors in the early 1500s effectively closed the last chapters of this rich, enigmatic civilisation.

With Spain’s interests more concentrated in the north and south, and the Great Belize Barrier Reefpresenting a real hazard to navigation, Belize was relatively ignored by European powers.

However, there were some sailors to whom the dangerous coral reefs were an advantage – the real, pre-Johnny Depp Pirates of the Caribbean, who plied their trade from the US mainland to South America and found the Belize barrier reef and coastline to be convenient hiding out and replenishing spots. In fact, the name buccaneer comes from the Arawak word buccan, which was a method of smoking meat. The word evolved into the French word boucane and then the name boucanier.
Smoked meat was a staple for pirates throughout the Caribbean, and the plentiful game in Belizean rainforests supplied the crews of those vessels brave or desperate enough to navigate through the tricky passes of the massive reef. Belizean buccaneers were apparently a well fed lot.

Once the reef passes were identified, other vessels followed to exploit the exotic hardwoods then plentiful in Belize for boat repair and boatbuilding. However, the timber that gained the greatest commercial interest was logwood, from which a highly prized blue dye was extracted for use in England’s burgeoning textile industry.

The logging industry spawned the famous Baymen who, along with African slaves made up the first non-indigenous populations of Belize. The early days (1650’s) of the colony of British Honduras, as it came to be known, is a riotous and colourful history that provides hours of interesting reading. Suffice to say here that there is some truth to the saying that Belize City was literally built on empty rum bottles, and the complexion and culture of modern day Creoles attests to the close relationship between Baymen and slaves, who coexisted in an environment where the main tools of the woodcutting trade could easily become weapons.
England was reluctant to establish a formal colony and antagonise Spain, but the Baymen developed a common law system of their own, finally codified as Burnaby’s Code around 1765. England and Spain signed the Convention of London in 1786, which allowed the Baymen to cut and export timber from the Rio Hondo River in the north to the Sibun River to the south, but banned any fortifications or any form of government, thus allowing Spain to maintain sovereignty over the area.
However, relations between the Baymen and the Spanish colonists were always tense, culminating in the Battle of St George’s Caye, when slaves fought alongside Baymen to defeat a Spanish invasion from Mexico. The battle was the culmination of a series of engagements from 3 September to 10 September 1798, ending in victory when the outnumbered and outgunned Baymen defeated the Spanish after an intense two and a half hour battle. This defining moment in British Honduran history is widely considered to be the birth of Belizean nationalism.

Once again, the Battle of St George’s Caye and the nascent days of the colony of British Honduras makes for fascinating reading, but it’s enough for our purposes here to explain why September 10, 1798 is such a pivotal date and so widely celebrated. Slavery itself was finally abolished in 1833, another important step in the formation of modern day Belize.

Another significant date celebrated in Belize, Garifuna Settlement Day on November 19th commemorates the arrival of the Garifuna in 1832. Descents of escaped African slaves and the Arawak people of St Vincent’s Island who were exiled to the Central American mainland by the British, the Garifuna have their own distinctive language, history and culture, and are a vital part of Belize’s multicultural society.

Although England had an official presence in Belize by the time of the Battle of St George’s Caye, it wasn’t until 1840 that the country was referred to as the Colony of British Honduras, finally becoming an official crown colony in 1862.
As the colony developed, an oligarchy became more firmly established and controlled the economy and politics in British Honduras, setting prices and electing magistrates of their own choosing. This system persisted for years, passed down through families and marriage.

Workers, however, continued to agitate for better conditions, and the 1930s saw increased protests, strikes and further industrial actions leading to the formation of the Labourers and Unemployed Association (LUA) and eventually to the legalisation of trade unions in 1941. The General Workers Union (GWU) grew in leaps and bounds, leading to the formation of the People’s United party (PUP) in 1950, and, in 1954, universal suffrage for all literate adults.

Modern day Belize was born.

But there were still birth pains. England opposed self-rule until the 1960s, and Guatemala’s longstanding claim to Belize escalated in the lead up to independence. The history of the Guatemalan claim to Belize harks back to the 1700s and would easily fill a book. It remained a thorn in Britain’s side, with diplomatic relations between the two countries becoming increasingly strained in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Through these difficulties, Belizeans pressed on toward independence, led by the indefatigable George Price, and in 1973 the name of British Honduras was formally changed to Belize. England still controlled defence, foreign affairs and internal and external security, but Belize was moving inexorably towards an independent future.

After intense diplomatic manoeuvring and worldwide lobbying, and following riots in both Guatemala and Belize over a proposed Heads of Agreement, leading to a declared state of emergency in Belize, the UN passed a resolution in November 1980 demanding the independence of Belize, and the “little country that could” never looked back.
Amid joyous celebrations, Belize became fully independent on September 21, 1981.

Since then, Belize has continued to develop into a harmonious, multicultural society. More recently, the country has moved from an agricultural based economy to a focus on tourism.

With a very low population density, an abundance of pristine natural resources and a varied landscape of stunning beauty, the Belizean people and government place a high priority on preserving the environment through conservation and a growing awareness of responsible tourism.

<a href=http://www.chaacreek.com>The Lodge at Chaa Creek</a> became Belize’s first eco resort in 1981, opening in the same month that Belize achieved independence. Since that time, Chaa Creek has worked in partnership with the government, NGOs and community organisations to promote responsible tourism and environmental awareness.

As Belize matures and environmental and social awareness grows, it is becoming a model for sustainable tourism development providing positive social benefits and increased standards of living for all Belizeans, while giving people from around the world an opportunity to explore the ancient Maya civilisation, the world’s second largest barrier reef and pristine Caribbean sea, pristine rainforests and a wealth of exotic flora and fauna.

It’s been a lot of history for such a small nation, and September 21 will see another exuberant celebration that reflects the pride, determination and aspirations that made Belize what it is today.

Happy Birthday Belize and Belizeans everywhere!

- Message from Chaa Creek!

#416697 - 09/20/11 06:08 PM Happy 30th BIrthday Belize!!!!! Sept 21, 2011
Marty Offline
from a friend.....

I got to watch Love Fm with Belize Watch an interview last night repeated of an interview last night with Rene Villanueva and Mr. Price showed them the little table and it was remunerated more than once that (4 men, Richardson, Smith, Pollard and Price sat at his old house on 3 Pickstock Street on the night Belize Dollar was devalued and it was so wonderful to hear Mr. Price in his own words talk about these men. The curator for the George Price Center up in Belmopan was interviewed and lots were shown and again Rene said there is so much work to be done to preserve this history………….

#416699 - 09/20/11 06:19 PM Re: Happy 30th BIrthday Belize!!!!! Sept 21, 2011 [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Love this website. Its Josie's pa.....

#416712 - 09/20/11 10:15 PM Re: Happy 30th Birthday Belize – quite a journey! [Re: lorenzogonzalez]
Marty Offline

Sep 20, 2011

On the eve of Belize’s thirtieth anniversary of Independence, the
Organization of American States today featured an interview with Belize’s
permanent representative to the organization on its radio network. The
fifteen minute interview was conducted by Kerne Stanley from OAS Radio, and
he asked Ambassador Nestor Mendez for his thoughts on three decades of
independence for Belize. Ambassador Mendez said that it’s a significant
milestone in history of Belize. He said that Belize has come of age and he
said that the theme is appropriate for this year’s celebration, which is:
“Honoring our History, Celebrating our Culture, Uniting for Peace.”

Ambassador Nestor Mendez
“Each of these concepts, history, cultures and peace resonate profound
deeply with Belize and Belizeans. At this moment Belize is celebrating a
very important milestone in its history as a nation. We are very proud of
the diversity of cultures, the richness of our society. The diversity
brings so many attributes that make Belize as special as it is. We are a
Caribbean country in Central America, we are at the crossroads of these two
very important cultures and also the uniting for peace is very important
because like many other countries in the Americas, large and small, Belize
is being challenged by a number of very difficult situations especially
having to do with crime, with the need to decrease, and to fight poverty,
with the need to empower our people and create better opportunities for
them. So the uniting for peace speaks to these aspirations of the
Belizean people to be able to move forward in peace and united and
especially to be free from violence and to eventually have a much better
life as Belizeans.”

Belize became a full member of the Organization of American States two
decades ago, and Ambassador Mendez says the country has played its role in
the regional organization.

Ambassador Nestor Mendez
“Since Belize joined the Organization of American States, the OAS has
consistently been a very important partner for Belize in its development.
Over the last decades the OAS has been an important source of development
assistance to Belize, the implementation of a number of projects in Belize,
also the provision of many scholarships. But beyond that the OAS also
plays a key and a very important role in the ongoing process with Belize
and Guatemala through which we are striving to resolve Guatemala’s claim to
Belize, to a part of our territory. So clearly the OAS has a very
important place in our region and it has a very important role in Belize.”

Ambassador Mendez says that going forward Belize will continue to play an
important role as a member of the Organization of American States.

Ambassador Nestor Mendez
“Within the Organization of American States Belize has a very unique and a
very specific role to play. We are the only country that belongs to two sub
regional groups, we are fully a part of the Caribbean and fully a part of
Central America and we give equal attention and equal importance to both of
these two families. Going forward Belize sees that it is extremely
important that the OAS remains strong and viable and credible because it is
the only place in the Americas where all countries sit at the table where
all countries are able to come together and to try and resolve any problems
that are outstanding and to find ways in which we can work better together.
I think the OAS is at a unique moment in which it is facing many of the
challenges; everybody is aware of the very difficult financial situation
that is confronting the Organization of American States but I do believe
that with an effort the countries will be able to arrive at solutions to
make sure that the organization remains viable. The organization provides
an invaluable service especially to the smaller countries, like most of the
countries in the Caribbean and many of the countries in Central America and
some countries in South America. We think that the OAS needs to remain
strong, it needs to survive, it needs to thrive. We think that the focus it
has on areas such as development, in areas such as democracy, human rights
or security, those are areas that are crucial to all of our countries and
the work that the OAS does in all of these areas is something that cannot
be done away with, and something that we absolutely need and we very much
want to strengthen.”

Story at http://www.lovefm.com/ndisplay.php?nid=14712

#416720 - 09/21/11 08:13 AM Re: Happy 30th Birthday Belize – quite a journey! [Re: lorenzogonzalez]
Marty Offline
For some photos, links, and textual information on Belizean Independence, CLICK HERE

#416726 - 09/21/11 08:47 AM Re: Happy 30th Birthday Belize – quite a journey! [Re: lorenzogonzalez]
Marty Offline

Schools Honour The 21st

The children's Rally was held last week Friday - but that's not the end - all of patriotic displays. All across Belize, students are finding their own ways to demonstrate the September spirit.

Today Monica Bodden visited two different city schools where the study of patriotism was on rich display - here's her report:

Monica Bodden Reporting:

The theme for the September celebrations is - honoring our history, celebrating our cultures, uniting for peace.

As Belize comes to celebrate its 30 years of independence, students across the country have been displaying their patriotism in the most creative ways you can imagine.

These students of James Garbutt Primary School, have spent the last 2 weeks decorating their classrooms - as their school held its first ever Class Patriotic competition - as a part of the September festivities.

Jerilyn Seguro - Acting Principal, James Garbutt Primary School
"It's a patriotic classroom competition. What we had were 3 classes representing the infant, the middle, and the lower divisions. Teachers and students got together, and they decided that they were going to work together as a team, and they were going to decorate the classrooms. So, the tour that you went on was actually the tour of the 3 classrooms representing these divisions."

Monica Bodden
"Is this a first?"

Jerilyn Seguro
"Yes, for the school, it's a first. So, it's something that we're learning now, as we go along, we know that we really need to get into this thing, and show that we have a love for God and country."

It is a first for the students of James Garbutt School to compete in a class patriotic competition. The acting principal told us why they decided to decorate inside instead of outside.

Jerilyn Seguro
"Actually, we have been decorating our schools prior to this, but what happened was that over weekends, people would come and destroy everything that we did. So one of the teachers said, 'You know, let's decorate the class, not just regularly how we would decorate, but let's add something more. Let's be more patriotic.' So instead of the classroom's outside, we left that a bit; we down-played that, and we decorated each division. We had certain criteria that they were supposed to be following."

And after going from classroom to classroom to check out the work of the students, they all assembled outside to be entertained by a group of students who are called Pathfinders.

In the end the lower division of the school was named the first place winners for the patriotic class competition. They got to enjoy cupcakes covered in red white and blue.

And then it was off to Saint Catherine's Academy - where the girls took part in what they called a Belizean Cake Boss Competition - beautiful cakes on display - all decorated in red, white and blue… which tell the story of this 30 year old nation.

Kerry Ann Mason - Head of the Social Studies Department, SCA
"As part of the celebrations, we decided to engaged the students in a number of activities. And one of them was the Belizean Cake Boss Competition. So each form was supposed to present a cake that reflects the theme of the celebrations this year. They were not limited in terms of their creativity. We just expected a beautiful cake that would say Belize. And they did well; we've had a lot of support. They've been very excited about it, and so we decided that we would love to share it with the rest of Belize."

Monica Bodden
"So far, has a winner been chosen?"

Kerry Ann Mason - Head of the Social Studies Department, SCA
"The judges are still making their decision; we've not decided on a winner just yet. Taste is a part of if too, because you make a cake, you want it to look good, but you want it to be edible also. So we are yet to taste the cakes."

Student #1
"Our class, 4 Science, did the cake. It was 15 of us. We put the theme which is honoring our history, celebrating our cultures, uniting for peace. We decided to put the blue, white and red that represents Belize."

Student #2
"If you notice, we have cookies - these are cookies with fondant over them. Each and every single one was hand painted by someone in our group. Each represents parts of Belize. Back here we have a little toucan, there is an orchid, a tapir, and many little flowers, and a little Maya woman - representing or culture, along with the peace sign here representing peace."

Student #3
"Our cake, on the top we have the Belizean flag, and then, on top of that, we have George Cadle Price - because without him, we wouldn't have independence or anything like that. Then, on the second piece of the cake, we have Belize at 30, and then we have the theme for Belize this year."

Student #4
"Honoring our history, celebrating our culture, united for peace."

Student #3
"We also have Saint George's Caye."

Student #4
"And the men of the coat of arms."

Student #3
We have the men, and then the Belize map to the back here. Then, on the sides, you have the Belizean flags, and to the front, you have the theme for Belize."

Student #5
"This first we have the theme which is honoring our history, celebrating our cultures, uniting for peace. The second layer has different patterns of the coat of arms, and the 3rd basically represents an assembly area, where each and everyone of us unites as one Belize together to sing the national anthem."

Student #6
"We wanted to show our theme for this year, which is honoring our history, celebrating our cultures, uniting for peace, and we wanted to celebrate that we're celebrating the 30th anniversary of Belize. We did here like a flag; it's all the colors of the Belizean flag. We have here the coat of arms, but we did a little twist. Inside, we put a bird which is like dove which represents peace. Everything is just about celebrating Belize."

Channel 7

Editorial from The Reporter

The heady days of Belizean Independence are over and gone, and today, 30 years later, sitting down to reflect, it as a sober moment for our Prime Ministers past and present.

The early blush of enthusiasm is no longer present. A sober sense of realism has replaced it. We’re battered and bruised from our encounter with the real world, but we have survived! That’s reason enough to celebrate!

We have had six peaceful changes of government. We have seen phenomenal growth of 8 percent GDP, and we have seen times so lean that we barely had sufficient foreign reserves to cover 30 days of spending. We have seen so much poverty and unemployment that many of our young, marginalized people have become despondent and are in open revolt.

But Belize’s democracy is stronger than ever. Belizeans now have unprecedented opportunity at free expression, and in the furnace of distress, the national character of Belize is being forged. Some will run. Others will walk. And some, with less mobility will have to be carried!

But Belize is not leaving any our sons and daughters behind! With a supreme effort we are putting all the resources at our disposal into education, and this sacrifice of today is bound to bear fruit tomorrow.

What we need now is a revival of our spirit; a nation-wide resolve not to give in to feelings of pessimism and discouragement. Let’s not start bemoaning our plight; counting our lost enterprises or opportunities.

But let us be thankful that we have survived the world-wide recession; that we have been able to live with $10.00 a gallon gasoline; that we have been able to stand up to people who want to further exploit our weaknesses for their own ends.

This 30th. anniversary of independence is a time for thanksgiving, it is a time for renewal.

Let us renew our spirit, thanking God for His love and special blessings. And let us draw strength from the example of our ancestors, from the knowledge that others facing bigger problems have persevered and gone on to great success, and from the sure knowledge that if we try hard enough, God will give us the energy to go the rest of the way.

Happy Independence Day, Belize!

#416728 - 09/21/11 08:50 AM Re: Happy 30th Birthday Belize – quite a journey! [Re: lorenzogonzalez]
Marty Offline
Belize Independence Day

Press Statement by Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State, Washington, DC
September 20, 2011

On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I am delighted to congratulate the people of Belize as you celebrate your 30th Independence Day this September 21.

This is an opportunity to honor your country’s robust democracy, vibrant diversity and rich culture. The United States is committed to cooperating with you on some of the most important regional and global challenges we face. We look forward to strengthening our partnership with the Government of Belize in its efforts to improve citizen safety and security under the Central America Security Partnership. Through the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), we will continue to support initiatives that increase the reach and effectiveness of health and education services for all Belizeans.

As people from all over Belize gather together to enjoy the September festivities -- including this year’s Prime Ministers Forum -- know that the United States is a partner and friend. Congratulations and best wishes for a year of peace and prosperity.

#416730 - 09/21/11 08:55 AM Re: Happy 30th Birthday Belize – quite a journey! [Re: lorenzogonzalez]
Marty Offline

In A "Frankie" Version

And as we close on this independence eve - we do so as we have traditionally - with Frankie Reneau's epic version of the national anthem.

It is lush, sprawling and celebratory - though, we note, it never was a favourite of George Price, who - we are told - found it too fussy, he always preferred the anthem as a fast paced, straightforward marching or working tune.

But tonight, at midnight, the flag will fly at full mast and Belizeans will celebrate - as surely Mr. Price would have wished them to.

As we said, you can see it live on channel 7 - and you can also see the official ceremonies live from Belmopan on channel 7 tomorrow morning.

Tune in for that.

And as we close on this independence eve - we do so as we have traditionally - with Frankie Reneau's epic version of the national anthem - this one form his 2011 concert.

It is lush, sprawling and celebratory - though, we note, it never was a favourite of George Price, who - we are told - found it too fussy, he always preferred the anthem as a fast paced, marching tune.

But tonight, at midnight, the flag will fly at full mast and Belizeans will celebrate - as surely Mr. Price would have wished them to.

As we said, you can see it live on channel 7 starting at eight - and you can also see the official ceremonies live from Belmopan on channel 7 tomorrow morning at ten.

Tune in for those events, and enjoy Frankie's anthem on the eve of the 21st.

We leave you with that - have a happy and safe independence and join us back here on Thursday night...

Channel 7

#416741 - 09/21/11 09:19 AM Re: Happy 30th Birthday Belize – quite a journey! [Re: lorenzogonzalez]
Marty Offline

Activities Planned to Bring In Independence

On the eve of Belize's big 3-0, all of the fine tuning and last minute preparations are taking place up to the minute this evening, to ring in one the country's thirtieth anniversary!!

NICH has been at the forefront of planning the big bash that will commemorate this important event.

Communications Officer, Shari Williams says, tonight's spectacle at the Memorial Park is guaranteed to lift the spirits of everyone during this very celebration shadowed by the passing of the National Hero - who brought Belize to Independence:

Shari Williams - Communications Officer, NICH
"Well tonight, 20th night - of course we're celebrating the incoming of our 30th year of Independence. 20th Night - Memorial Park - we have a fantastic array of cultural presentations all lined for the general public. We're inviting everybody to come out. It begins at 8 p.m. We are inviting people to come out early; at 9 p.m., we have a very special presentation called the September Spectacle. It's a musical that NICH, along with some well-known artists, have been working on for quite some months now. So tonight, they'll be debuting the September Spectacle. It has a cast of very talented artists. It's written and directed by Kim Vasquez. It includes musicals from the Belize Dance Company and - like I said - some very famous artists. We're inviting people to come out; bring your entire family. Sit back, relax, and enjoy; it promises to be really good. After which, of course, starts off with the protocol section of the 20th night where the dignitaries start arriving. At 12 midnight, of course, fireworks - the September Celebrations would not be the same without the expected fireworks. Tomorrow, the activities start at 10 a.m.; of course, there will be two different ceremonies: one in Belize City - a smaller one in Belize City, along with the official ceremony that's going to take place in Independence Plaza, In Belmopan. It's a very straight-forward ceremony; several speeches from the Leader of Opposition, the Mayor of Belmopan, Minister Hon. Heredia, as well an address from the Prime Minister. Very straight-forward ceremony, we invite everybody again to come out tomorrow to share in the ceremony, and of course, if you aren't able to make it live in Belmopan, it's going to be covered live on several TV stations."

And if you can't make it to the Memorial Park, Channel 7 will be airing it all live...

Channel 7


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