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The only established National Park on a Belizean island

2011 Marco Gonzalez earned the distinction of being the first Maya Site National Park to be established on a Belizean island. Sadly, due to a lack of funding from the Government of Belize, the Marco Gonzalez Board of Directors were forced to close the site on July 1, 2019. According to Jan Brown, who serves as the site manager, a meeting with the Government of Belize’s (GOB) Institute of Archaeology (IoA) in late June promised that they would finally include Marco Gonzalez in their national budget. A tour through the site with the IoA Director, Parks Manager and President of National Institute of Culture and History (NICH) followed on July 3rd. Brown was assured that IoA would find a solution. Six months later, with no reply to countless phone calls, texts and emails appealing for an update, the Board of Directors had no choice but to close the site due to lack of funding.

“During the past ten years, the Marco Gonzalez Archaeological Site hosted 4,448 visitors, 277 educational visitors, two Spring Equinox and two Summer Solstice celebrations, three International Archaeological Day events for the school children (over 1,100 attending), three international field schools/excavations, two public exhibitions, a six-month exhibit at San Pedro House of Culture and a three-year grant program of ‘Ambassadors to the Past’ offering classroom education and local school field trips to Marco. There have been guests from National Geographic and Belize TV stations, as well as celebrities on private tours,” explained a heartbroken Brown. “Land was purchased through private funds where the construction of a Visitors Center/Educational Center would showcase items found at the site and an education space for local children to learn about their Maya history. To the side of that was planned a “Maya Village” with huts for the local Maya to show and sell their wares. A new two-block road to the sea and a pier would have allowed Tour Guides to bring in tons of visitors. Land was to be donated for the Tour Guide Association to build a palapa for guests to rest and eat before continuing their tours and for the guides to bring people in for beach BBQ’s. An “eco-lodge” was even thought about by a developer. I personally donated the large building behind the office to house equipment and hold educational events. Without funding from the Government of Belize, IoA and the National Institute of Culture and History, the site will sit dormant, returning to the jungle it was when I first saw it in 2008. Unthinking people will again thief the Maya heritage there and the boardwalk will become unsafe to walk on.”

Those who would like to see the site reopened and want to appeal to the GOB for funding, please contact Dr. John Morris, NICH Director at [email protected], George Thompson, Parks Manager at [email protected] and Sapna Budhrani, NICH President at [email protected]

Click here to read the rest of the article in the San Pedro Sun