Old Pirate Wallace Just Another Fiction??

Posted By: Marty

Old Pirate Wallace Just Another Fiction?? - 01/10/12 02:23 PM

If you've learned even a little bit of history in school, you know the story of old Captain Peter Wallace.

An old Buccaneer, he's supposedly the namesake of Belize - because - the story goes - his name was corrupted to Ballis by the Spanish - and that eventually became the name of the Belize River.

The rest, as they say is history...

But is it? Or is it just a story? Historian Barbara Bulmer Thomas has scoured the historical record for this elusive Captain Wallace…and guess what she found? A big fat zero! That's the subject of a lecture she will deliver tomorrow night at the house of culture in Belize City. She told us about it:..

Jules Vasquez
"What is the truth about Peter Wallace?"

Barbara Bulmer Thomas, "Peter Wallace: Fact or Fiction"
"Well, the truth about Peter Wallace, as I should be demonstrating tomorrow evening is there is no good historical evidence for his existence."

Jules Vasquez
"What is it that forces this myth into creations, because many times social circumstances conspire to bring a myth into creation, intime they call for a making of a certain myth."

Barbara Bulmer Thomas, "Peter Wallace: Fact or Fiction"
"Well yes you put your finger on the point of it. I mean the myth can be trace back to 1827. It was a time when Belize was thinking of becoming a British Colony and of course as we all about Belize, we don't know how it started as a settlement, unlike all the other Caribbean countries or the Latin American countries for that matter."

Jules Vasquez
"So then where does the name come from?"

Barbara Bulmer Thomas, "Peter Wallace: Fact or Fiction"
"Oh no, no, no, you have to leave me something for my audience tomorrow."

Jules Vasquez
"Fair enough."

Prof. Victor Bulmer - Thomas "Belize Economy Since Independence"
"If we go to that period of the 1820's as you mention when the Wallace myth was created, this was a period of extraordinary prosperity in what was then the settlement of Belize, and on becoming a colony, the colony of British Honduras the economy went into decline and ultimately into a fall. Since the independence in 1981 that fall has been reverse but only partially and so the Belize economy is still a relatively a poor one in relation to the rest of the Caribbean."

"On balance the independence has been a very good thing for Belize in economic terms there is no questions about that. If independence had come a little bit earlier, 20, 30, 40 years earlier, it's difficult to say, but I think the performance of the Belize economy would have improved."

"One of the fundamentally weaknesses in Belize since independence is been the problems of fiscal concessions. Too many concessions to too many big companies, rich individuals and so on, and we've done some statistical work on this and it does look as if compared with other countries in the region Belize is under taxed and that may seem very strange to the average Belizean who thinks, but I am paying too much tax, but those thing are perfectly compatibly because if you are offering fiscal concessions to the rich and the powerful inevitable those that remain would have to pay more."

Professor Victor Bulmer Thomas lecture on the Belize economy since Independence will be delivered on Wednesday night at the George Price Center in Belmopan.

Both events start at 7:00 pm and run for two hours.

Channel 7

Posted By: Marty

Re: Old Pirate Wallace Just Another Fiction?? - 01/10/12 02:26 PM

Lecture on Belize and the history of its economics

The history of Belize, from settlement to nationhood, has been written by renowned authors from just about every perspective conceivable. Throughout the years scholars have studied and published accounts of the Jewel’s colonial, political and cultural past with little to no emphasis placed on the economics that drive its people. Barbara Bulmer-Thomas and her husband Victor have since taken on the challenge of carefully researching and documenting the financial affairs of British Honduras, now Belize, since it was first settled by the Baymen in the seventeenth century. Their work spans a period of forty-five years and they are setting out to dispute a myth that has been around for long; and that is that Peter Wallace, who it is claimed the country was named after, was only a figment of Belizean history. Prior to launching their much anticipated book the husband and wife team is currently in town promoting a two-day lecture series which begins on Tuesday at the House of Culture in Belize City.

Barbara Bulmer-Thomas, Author

“I’ll be speaking tomorrow evening at the House of Culture and I’ll be talking about Peter Wallace who forms a section of our book. Now many Belizeans are really not particularly interested in Peter Wallace. They either take him as, you know, something that’s there and some Belizeans are even embarrassed about it but I believe that we have new information we can show [and] demonstrate why Peter Wallace was a myth. We can date it and we can show how the story grew as a ‘yeriso’ story.”

Victor Bulmer-Thomas, Author

“It’s been a long time in the making because my wife and I have been talking and thinking about Belizean issues for forty-five years and finally we’ve been able to crystallize some of these ideas into a book which we think is long overdue and we’ve used primary sources in many different sources both in Belize but also in London, Spain, in North America, in Guatemala, in Mexico and Jamaica. So there’s a lot of countries that go to make up the economic history of Belize and we think that we’ve been able to track virtually all of them down.”

Barbara Bulmer-Thomas

“The first chapter sets the historical context and then we trace the economic growth of the country from the earliest times, logwood trade and how that turned into the mahogany [trade] and all the subsidiary things Belizeans were doing from the earliest times but it brings it right up to today and it‘s all versed in academic sources. So the point about the Peter Wallace theme is that we can demonstrate from historical sources that there was no such person.”

Victor Bulmer-Thomas

“We tell a story which has many positive but also many negative elements and we think that it’s important for understanding current Belize [in order] to have a proper grasp of the past and in the conclusions we emphasize both the positives and the negatives and clearly one hopes that the new generation of Belizeans will manage to avoid the negatives going forward.”

The lecture series are a joint effort with the University of the West Indies. The book An Economic History of Belize will be published by Cubola Productions and will be released in April.

Channel 5

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