The Toledo Cacao Growers Festival was held over the long weekend in
and around Punta Gorda Town. As we’ve told you, the event is about the
cacao industry, but it’s more than just a trade show – it’s
a cultural event – where the cacao’s place in Maya history is brought
to the front and center of this revered culture. 7News was in Toledo and we’ll
have two stories about the festival, but first tonight, we look at one of the
centerpiece events, the Moori Dance.
Jules Vasquez Reporting,
This is the Mooro Dance, the ornate costumes make it look like colorful play
but it is in fact a centuries old dance depicting a mythical battle from a faraway
place. There are 12 dancers, 6 depict Spaniards who are Christians – that’s
the character on the right of your screen while the other 6 depict a group called
Mooros – that’s the character on the left. They look close in this
picture, but for the purpose of the dance, they are at war.
Justino Peck, Chairman – Toledo Cacao Growers Assoc.
“The Christians represent Christianity after they have found out that
there is Christianity in this world while the Mooro are people who used to live
under water. Their livelihood is underwater and what their occupations are underwater
is processing of silk cloths. They harvest that. However before pre-dawn period,
the Mooro and the Christians started a fight against each other. The reason
is because there are two kings; the King the Christian and the King of the Mooros.”
It’s a traditional dance that was recently brought to Belize by Mayans
from Guatemala for cultural preservation.
“Over the past few years we have losing our cultural dance activity.
So for that reason the Toledo Cacao Festival Committee decided that every year
we will try to demonstrate to the people who live here and to the people who
live in Belize but not only Belize but also international people who come to
this festivity to see what takes place here; how is the tradition, how is the
culture, how it is being performed here.”
Pedro Pop, Head of Dance Group
“Even though there are some of us who try to say we are promoting
our culture and traditions but yet we are not doing it but it is showing that
we are not only talking but also showing something that we have.”
And what does keeping this tradition alive have to do with cacao? Organizers
say everything because the cacao fruit is intrinsic to Mayan culture and tradition.
Armando Choco, TCGA
“That is one other thing that the Cacao Festival is trying to revive,
trying to promote, and trying to tell the people look, that cacao production
is part of the livelihood of the Mayan people in Toledo District. In fact in
the past our Mayan ancestors used coco beans as currency, they did a lot of
bartering. They exchanged goods with coco beans.”
Tomorrow, we’ll take you on the cacao trail – inside the
harvesting of one of this country’s most remarkable export crops.