REPORT #186 Feb 2000

Produced by the Belize Development Trust

In a February 3rd. 2000, Wednesday announcement, the following extract from Guatemala, published in the Miami Herald.


Guatemala City-
Guatemala said Wednesday it is seeking "the return" of 4,738 square miles from neighboring Belize -- more than half the tiny independent country, a member of the United Nations. Guatemala is prepared to argue it's case in international court.

The demand was first presented to Belize on Oct. 19th, 1999 and will be officially announced to diplomats next week, Deputy Foreign Minister Rafael Salazar was quoted as saying in the Siglio XXI daily.

Salazar said the government of Prime Minister Said Musa and the PUP party controlling the nation of Belize had responded in early January, and foreign ministers of the two countries had agreed to meet February 24th., 2000.

Anyone, including Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Kenya, Sierra Leone can make claims against the territory of the country of Belize. The world of course is a free place, to do what you want.

The facts are; that any Guatemalan government, be it ancient Mayan, Colonial Spanish, or current modern Guatemala has never ever owned any of Belize, occupied any of Belize, governed any of Belize, or ever been in Belize in the last known 3000 years.

1,938 years ago, the Maya of Belize abandoned the Mayan city state system, which eventually spread to the Yucatan and what is now the Peten section of Guatemalan and later became known as the Classical Period in Mayan history. This first city state, was at Cerros in the north of Belize and is now a tourist archeological pyramid ruin site. The inhabitants of the time copied the central Mexican Aztec Empire city state governing model for their experiment. The inhabitants of Cerros, later abandoned this type of King and City State type of government around 1940 years ago.

376 AD, Lord Smoking Frog managed to conquer the city states in the central Peten, of which is now Guatemala, and the refugees fled into Belize to what was then the Belizean capital at Caracol. This also is now an archeological set of pyramid ruins.

During the wars of the Central Peten city state Mayan kingdoms, Lord Waters of Caracol, the capital of Belize at that time, invaded what is now Guatemala and the department of the Peten; but did not conquer the kingdoms. He returned in another invasion to the fractious warring city states in the Peten ( which is now Guatemala) in 562 A.D. and this time conquered Tikal and the armies of the surrounding subject kingdoms in the Peten. For the next eight generations, this Belizean King "Lord Waters" brought relative peace to the City State Mayan Empire. Belize ruled all the Peten ( which is now part of Guatemala, but rightfully belongs to Belize ). For the next few centuries there was trade and Belize was not involved in any wars for territory.

The population of Belize in 850 A.D. is estimated at 300,000 and the country thrived. Trade and economics was paramount. Highway systems stretched to the Pacific Ocean and Central Mexico in a magnificent web of roads, that has not been duplicated again to this very day.

In 1528, Francisco de Montejo, the Adelanto arrives in the north of Belize at Chetumal Bay and what is now known as Corozal, on an exploring spying trip for subsequent invasion and conquest.

By 1542, the official invasion of Central America and conquest occurs and Spanish troops and invading forces do battle with City States in the Yucatan. Refugees flee to Belize.

By 1544, the first invasion of Belize occurs from the Yucatan, sponsored by the conquering invading government of Spain located in Merida. The capital of Belize was then known as Tipu in the Cayo District of today. It was occupied.

The Spanish Europeans for purposes of invasion and conquest had drawn on their maps, a division of territory. The Guatemala section in the western highlands covered up to, around the Monkey River area. The Spanish in Guatemala never actually got around to invading Belize in this area. Indeed, the only invasions and wars of expulsion of the Spanish occupying forces were with Spanish forces coming down from the north from the Yucatan. These sort of stopped around the Sibun River and did several times go into the Chiquibul Forest area, near the ruins of Caracol and concentrated on the northern section of Belize, then known as Dzuluinicob and the capital of Belize, Tipu; that provided trade routes to the Peten Mayan kingdoms. Because of the much earlier conquests and occupation of the Western Highlands of Mexico and Central America by Spanish foreign forces and the better living conditions, the road systems to Belize and through the intervening territories collapsed and became overgrown by jungle, due to lack of economic trade activity caused by the Western highland wars.

By 1546, a regrouping and organization of resistance to the Spanish invasion of the capital of Belize and northern Belize territories was accomplished and the Spanish coming down from the Yucatan were thrown out. This was a massive uprising and counter-attack by the Maya in Belize from all over the country of that time.

The problem facing the Maya was that the Spanish European invaders had technical superior armaments, military experience in laying waste public cities and homes, torture and wholesale murder. The whole concept of European style warfare was foreign to the Maya. To the Maya, it was the leaders and in particular the War Chief that died in city state wars. Not wiping out vast populations. It was a cultural clash in which technology and brutal no-holds barred slash and burn of civilian populations was culturally incomprehensible.

In 1547, the Pecheco cousins up in Bacalar, organize another invasion of Belize under a Spanish grant. They killed, burned , tortured and laid waste villages, towns and plantations. The Pecheco cousins and invaders failed and were repulsed by Belizeans, retreating up into the Yucatan.

In 1562, the infamous Catholic Bishop Landa instigated the destruction of everything Mayan that gave them an identity and culture through the Yucatan. The intent was to make them slaves and serfs in the Spanish system of organized concentrated tribute towns. As late as the 1960's the Jesuits carried on this policy of destroying Belizean/Mayan culture throughout rural Belize, with a blind eye from the British colonial service.

In 1571, the first black of African descent is recorded in the area of Belize.

In 1608, another invasion and Tipu is once again occupied from the north. By this time, the war was taking a toll on the Belizean population and the population levels were drastically becoming reduced by imported European diseases and brutal murders by invading Spanish forces. The invasion did not take hold very well and what Belizeans were left, forced the Spanish out once again. By now the numbers of both invaders and Belizeans were much reduced.

In 1615, the Spanish from the Yucatan invaded again and occupied the capital of Belize at Tipu, once more.

In 1627 to 1630 devastation in the form of natural disasters created havoc in Belize and the Yucatan. Tens of thousands of Maya died from famine, plagues and locusts. They literally starved to death. It was three years of hell!

What Belizean Maya were left, fled towns and retreated to the bush, to form isolated small family plots and villages. By 1637 the population of Belize was near extinction from starvation and sickness, due to the previous three years of natural disasters.

By 1638, the Maya started a new political movement based on isolated villages and communities and very small towns in Belize. Foreign pirates started to raid along the Belizean coast. Mostly seeking Spanish wealth and Mayan women. In 1639, there was not much Belizean population to resist excursions from the Yucatan by Spanish conquistadors. Nor was there sufficient population to make it worthwhile for colonial Spanish reductions of forced religious towns and slave serf labor sponsored by the Catholic church. This year of 1639 saw three famous Belizean Independence leaders taken to Merida in chains for eventual death by torture. These were Belizean resistance leaders, Gaspar Puc the alcalde of Lamanai, Don Luis Kinil the cacique of Pacha and Andres Uxul.

By 1642, the Spanish invaders are kicked out of Belize once again. This time with soldier aid from Mayan Itza towns in the Peten, which is now Guatemala.

By 1695, the Belizean Maya are weak and disorganized. Pirate raids increase from the coast and rivers. Bacalar is sacked by pirates in the Yucatan in 1643 and again in 1648.

In 1654, Captain Francisco Perez in the Yucatan tries another invasion of Belize, but fails.

In 1678 through 1680, the Catholic Franciscans from the Yucatan return with a military force for invasion. In 1677, a small invasion by this force attempts to get tribute and slaves from the Toledo District, but fails. The priest is killed along with two religious. The rest of the Spanish invaders hide in the jungle and eventually make their way back up north to the Yucatan. This was called the Paliac affair. You notice how technically, the Merida Spanish were invading the map territory supposedly for Guatemala.

In 1697, the capital of Belize at Tipus is occupied from the Yucatan once more.

In 1708 there is a civil war in the western districts of Belize instigated by Spanish from the Yucatan. The Mozul-Maya of what is the Chiqibul Forest Reserve and Caracol area are wiped out and exterminated.

By 1809, logwood was becoming a rich business. African slaves, black regiments from Jamaica and Scottish and British overlords were establishing a commercial business. Belizeans were being befriended, killed and their women taken. The Mayan Belizeans of the time invaded the logwood camps from time to time. But the population of Belize was very small now, and after two hundred and fifty years of unrelenting war with the Spanish forces from the Yucatan, there were few left to fight Africans and a few Europeans with modern technologically superior weapons.

Eventually, the new logwood invaders decided to stay. These were mostly ex-slaves from Jamaica and their descendants. They concentrated around the port town now called Belize City. They and their white bosses decided to take possession of the territory and got Britain to call it a colony. The invasion was basically low key and successful, due to what was now a thorougly decimated sparse Mayan/Belizean population.

During the colonial years of British declared ownership, British Honduras as it was called as a colony, got into various European arguments for territories in the Spanish territories of Central America. Because of a number of European wars between Spain and England, each claimed the territory. In Spanish eyes, the maps of ancient division, showed the northern part of Belize as being under Merida. The southern section of Belize being under Guatemala City. The Spanish of Merida and the Yucatan did indeed invade and were repulsed many times as Belizean history shows. But at no time was there ever a Guatemalan invasion, occupation, or any battles from what is now Guatemala.

You can see this history in the history section of the Belize Electronic Resource and Development Library at: The book is on-line.

Later both Mexico and Guatemala went independent from Spain and claimed what was on these old maps as their territory. To mollify such claims, the colonial office of British Honduras and the Spanish governments came to different agreements, of which forms the legal basis for the current Guatemalan interest. Mexico gave up her claims, but both Honduras and Guatemala resurrect different claims for the territory of Belize from time to time. The interesting thing about Honduran and Guatemalan claims, is that at no time in history have the claims been anything other than pieces of paper, agreed to by European powers in various wars and treaties over in Europe. Other than paper, there has never been any occupation, or government EVER from either Honduras or Guatemala on the ground of Belize, or the earlier British colonial times.

Belize is now an independent country and a member of the United Nations. Guatemala has no claims of any validity by possession, invasion, conquest, or previous governance at any time in history. European pieces of paper from treaties and wars in Europe conducted on a world wide basis notwithstanding.

My advice to Prime Minister Musa is to just ignore Guatemala. They are a bunch of mafioso. As a Guatemalan Defense Minister explained to me one time in Guatemala City. If you understand the Mafia families of New York from literature and how they operate, you understand Guatemalan politics. Except, the New York mafia familes are an underground government of criminal intent. They kill people who refuse to be extorted, or fight them back. The Spanish did the same in the Americas and as the Defense Minister in Guatemala told me, the only difference in Guatemala, is that the mafia families are a legal government and the Dons and Capos are military officers with civilian fronts when necessary. They still kill people who refuse to give them money, their business, or wives and daughters. Extortion is their business and killing is their enforcement.

If there is money to be made from threatening to invade Belize, or actually invade Belize they might do it. In which case, preparing for the next hundred years, probably makes sense to form District Militias described in the Belize Reform Party Manifesto on the library Development Issues in Report #87. The mafia only respect greater organized force.

Back to Main Belize Development Trust Page

Maintained by Ray Auxillou, Silvia Pinzon, MLS, and Marty Casado. Please email with suggestions or additions for this Electronic Library of Belize.