Commentary: September 10 should have been Belize's Independence Day instead of September 21

By Wellington C. Ramos

Born in Dangriga Town, the cultural capital of Belize, Wellington Ramos has BAs in Political Science and History from Hunter College, NY, and an MA in Urban Studies from Long Island University. He is an Adjunct Professor of Political Science and History

Most Belizeans who were born and raised in Belize prior to the year 1981 celebrated 10 September yearly and it was known as the Battle of Saint Georges Cay Day. This date commemorated the day when the British settlers, along with their slaves, on 10 September 1798 defeated the Spaniards, who were trying to remove them from the country of Belize. After this battle, the Spanish crown did not launch another major attack against the British and their slaves.

Born in Dangriga Town, the cultural capital of Belize, Wellington Ramos has BAs in Political Science and History from Hunter College, NY, and an MA in Urban Studies from Long Island University. He is an Adjunct Professor of Political Science and History I remember when I was a little child growing up in Dangriga Town the men use to dress up like Baymen with poko no boy sticks and paintings on their faces during the parade. Most Belizeans looked forward to this parade every year in the month of September. This parade played a major role in instilling nationalism and pride among Belizeans.

The Guatemalan claim to Belize is hindering many Belizeans from becoming nationalistic. In some discussions I have had with a few Belizeans, they agree that Belize belongs to Guatemala. I am one of those Belizeans who totally disagree with this concept.

Spain and the other European countries had no right to come to Belize or any other foreign country to slaughter the native Maya Indians and other indigenous people, who have been living in their countries for centuries and take their land and then claim it as theirs.

This is how Spain claimed the right to Belize and all the territories in the Caribbean and the Americas after they signed the Treaty of Tordesillas in 1494 that was mediated by the Catholic Pope Alexander the V1. In fact, it is a violation of international law for any country through aggression to invade another country for no justifiable reason and then claim the country as theirs.

I was told by the late Santiago Perdomo, who died recently, when he visited New York City in 1984 as a part of a UDP delegation, that when he was a member of the Peopleís United Party they all agreed that Belize Independence Day would be celebrated on September 10. They were on a visit then to seek the support of New Yorkers to defeat the Peopleís United Party in the upcoming general elections that were scheduled for that year.

In 1981, the then prime minister of Belize Honourable George Cadle Price, took a delegation to London to discuss the independence of Belize. When he returned from London, he held a meeting with his cabinet and he told them that the independence of Belize will be granted on September 21 of that year. Most people in the room were shocked when he announced this new date and were surprised by the drastic change in plan.

This date has no significance to anything in Belize history, like 10 September does. Now, Belizeans for no good reason are celebrating two national holidays, which are only ten days apart from each other.

George Price, Said Musa and Assad Showman, who were the major players, are still living and they should explain to the Belizean people why they chose September 21 over September 10 for our independence day. If they cannot give us a good explanation, I would strongly be in favour of a referendum to be held to change Independence Day to 10 September, which was our National Day prior to independence.

Having two major national holidays for a small country like Belize; is senseless, inconvenient and costly. I now call on all Belizeans to start debating the reason why September 21 was chosen for our Independence Day over September 10.

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