From a friend...

I found the flag narrative that Mr. Sanchez put forth rather amusing for several reasons. He addressed the concerns many Belizeans still have about the flag, but I got a sense that with the benefit of time and him being cognizant of such concerns he crafted a suitable story.

Mr. Sanchez mentioned that he and the late Everald Waight - two high ranking government officials with political connections - won an "open" competition to design the flag. In an Amandala editorial about Independence Day last year, the editor noted the refusal to introduce Belizean artists into the national symbols process. It is still hard for many Belizeans to believe that this was an open competition that two government bureaucrats (with perhaps little art background) won fare and square. And so from the onset the process for many seem to be rigged and the outcome preordained.

Then there is the issue of the two men on the coat of arms in the center of the flag. Mr. Sanchez expressed his concern that the brown man on the coat of arms had been replaced by a yellow man. The irony is not lost here, considering that some Belizeans still comment on the replacement of one of the two black men on the flag with a brown man. While Mr. Sanchez explained that this was done to reflect the more diverse country that Belize had become, those who oppose the change assert that this is not historically accurate. For them it's as if historical accuracy became a casualty of some political project (the desire to represent diversity). The changing of the coat of arms was always a concern of the late Ishmael Omar Shabazz, and he expressed this concern in writing.

(Most likely no black Belizean, PUP or UDP, were consulted when one of the two black men was removed from the flag. This is not a black nationalist comment.)

Lastly, there is the issue of adding the red to the flag. The Amandala editorial noted that: "Under the pressure, Mr. Price's PUP insisted, until the last few weeks, on the blue-and-white flag for independence. The strips of red above and below the core were a last minute concession. In its blue-and-white format, the national flag would have looked just like the PUP flag (and some Central American republic flags). At this newspaper, we felt then, and we feel now, that the design of a national flag should have been done through a competition amongst Belizean artists. It was still the PUP government which would have had the final say."

Mr. Sanchez discussed how they came up with a political compromise where the colors of the flag is concerned, but it should be noted that in the mid 1970s David Jenkins discussed in the Beacon newspaper his version of a compromise flag. That flag had a red cross bar with the blue background. It should also be noted that the late Emory King also claimed credit for the color compromise. In speaking of the compromise that was made, Mr. Sanchez suggested that the two red strips signified Belize being a two party democracy. Neat story, but one wonders to what extent the process of designing the flag reflected the kind of democracy in Belize leading up to independence.

(Once a thin strip on the top and bottom border of the flag, the red strip seem to have become a thicker strip, no longer relegated to the margins.)

Happy Independence Day Belize.