REPORT #648 June 2003

Produced by the Belize Development Trust

Last week Evan Hyde famous black power leader in Belize our port town, went on regarding his black culture in his newspaper. I explored the changing demographics in recent posts between Belize's black and new immigrant mestizo populations.

But yesterday in talking over black culture of Belize with immigrants to Florida from Peru, Ecuador, Colombia and Venezuela; they said the black experience in Belize is not colonial and it is not remnants from slavery. It does however, seem unique to the black culture, or racial in origin. Each of the people from their countries said the same thing. It is EXACTLY the same in their countries and coastal commmunites of black people, as it is in Belize around the Caribbean.

The mestizo's grow their own food, live well and in ten years build up there personal wealth and real estate ownership steadily, while the black people of each of their countries remain marginalized, not through lack of opportunity, but from a cultural trait that abhors chopping bush, and the hard work involved with clearing land, the sweat and planting and taking care of ground food. The common refrain was that there were snakes, to many bugs, the work was too hard and didn't pay and so forth. All their black people ( there are minority exceptions of course ) want clerical jobs. They want a white shirt, a desk and to push a pen and paper for a government salary.

Considering the conference here in Hialeah, Florida yesterday on the subject, it would seem that Evan Hyde and his black power movement is way off the mark in the port of Belize City? He is trying to make a mountain out of an ant hill. He is seeing shadows of colonialism and ancient slavery where none exist.

The facts are; since colonial times, any Belize citizen can get 20 acres of land ( location ticket lease ) to start off with and put in their sweat equity and build themselves a home, earn dollars saved by growing their own food, sell their surplus, buy more land, take odd jobs for cash flow and become wealthy as the mestizo's from the Salvador UN immigration project have done. Many mestizos are now quite wealthy worth a half million or more in asset value these days, fifteen years later. Have refrigerators, cell phones and still feed their families from the land. A dollar saved is a dollar earned! While their children have acquired an education and now in their teens and early twenties are competing for salaried jobs in the commercial establishments with blacks.

According to my conference friends from Peru, Ecuador, Colombia and Venezuela, the fault is with the black community. Their culture does not wish hard physical labor. Nor the dirt, the sweat and blisters that go with it. Belizean governments for many decades have provided land ownership opportunities and they in Belize city the port have not risen to the challenge and opportunity.

I'll leave it to the anthropological experts to argue about coastal black culture around the Caribbean, but the port city blacks of Belize are NOT unique. They are not disenfranchised. To a layman, they simply will not assume to grab the opportunities. You don't get rich on a salary. You don't increase your wealth much on a salary. You do leave yourself open to disaster on a salary when the economy fluctuates. Nope! The crying and wailing of Evan Hyde, famous Belizean black leader; the excuses and rationalizations have something to do with preferences of culture. What exactly, maybe he should explore that and compare to these coastal black communities in other Caribbean countries?

To think that penniless mestizos came from Salvador during their war years and are now all comfortable and moderately wealthy with oodles of land all over the place and that their children in turn now provide increased cash flow, is a testament to the opportunities to be found in Belize. And it all started because our changing government's gave them a piece of land, the root and basis of all wealth accumulation.

The same can be said in Canada. I watched the same phenomena of penniless European white war refugees flood Canada and within ten to fifteen years become wealthy, to the chagrin, jealousy and envy of third generation lazy no-risk union members of Canadian birth descent, who insisted on salaried jobs with perks.

Evan Hyde is way off the mark in his commentaries and explorations of why the port city black population are the way they are. And it has NOTHING to do with slavery of 150 years ago, or colonialism. It has everything to do with laziness and comfort is my thought.

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