Dr. Joseph Palacio
Andy Palacio, Belize’s Musical Ambassador (deceased), epitomized the concept of globalization and Central American integration in his music. This was focal message of Andy’s uncle, Dr. Joseph Palacio, when he delivered the second annual Andy Palacio Lecture at the Image Factory on Wednesday, January 19th.

Dr. Palacio, an expert on Andy’s professional and life journeys, offered the lecture entitled: “Globalization and Central Americanization of the Garifuna People”, and focused on Andy’s early life experiences that propelled him to be the “globalized” individual that he was.

In his lecture, Dr.. Palacio said, “Globalization means taking our place as active players on the world stage; becoming the best that we can be; and proving to the whole world that we are the best...

Similarly, Central Americanization means showing to our neighbours that we have a commanding presence in this sub-region and that we are leaders in areas where we want to be.”

Dr.. Palacio unveiled the canvas of Andy’s early life; he pointed to those things that fashioned him into the ambassador, not just for music, but for the entire Garifuna Culture.

Referencing to his trans-boundary up bringing as a young man raised in Barranco who was heavily influenced by his fellow Garifuna people from Guatemala, and other Central American countries, Dr... Palacio said Andy transcended physical borders and saw the Garifuna people as one nation.

Dr. Palacio said that Andy “no longer saw Belize separate from Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. He saw them as all part of a globalized world. He drew his inspiration,... from Central America. But the exciting challenge for Andy was to massage the source of the inspiration, give it his own unique style and then project it on the world stage. It is the work of the consummate artist.”

Andy Palacio had the ability to take his roots, his culture and the inspiration that he had found in the various Garifuna communities in and outside Belize, and morph it into art. That was his talent; one that Dr... Palacio said was clearly reflected in his music.

“A brief overview of the work he did on his Watina CD will show his indebtedness to Central America. From the twelve songs on Watina at least three were based in Honduras,” Dr... Palacio said.

Everything Andy did was part of his career and life’s mission to preserve and promote the Garifuna language and culture on the world stage. Dr... Palacio pointed to one of the more—if not the most—significant experiences in Andy’s life that served as that epiphanic moment that inspired his mission.

“Everybody has heard the story that it was in Nicaragua that Andy first came face to face with the slow but surely reversible death of the Garifuna Language. I quote from writings on... the world acclaimed Watina CD. ‘...he travelled to Nicaragua and met an old man who was among the last in the country to still speak the Garifuna language. The elder couldn’t believe his ears when he heard the young Andy greet him in Garifuna... He could not imagine that someone so young could speak Garifuna, having thought that the language would perish with him,” Dr... Palacio shared.

Moved by the realization that his language, and equally his culture, was facing a slow “but reversible death” Andy pooled his experiences in Belize, Guatemala, Nicaragua and wherever else he had interacted with his kin folk and promulgated Garifuna.

“We can add that his success in Cancun, Yucatan also helped in pushing him toward taking his rightful place as a global musical icon. In the end, Andy P was an artist promoting his Garifuna culture whether it originated from Belize or other parts of Central America.”

Dr. Palacio summarized Andy’s work in his concluding statement: “His [Andy’s] aim was to start with concrete situations on the ground and to move them ever higher to reach a world appeal. He took his inspiration from his Garifuna culture based in Central America and moulded it to reach the highest level of excellence. And the world responded giving him the accolades that he truly deserved.”

The Reporter