The first taxi between San Ignacio and Benque Viejo
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January 11, 2021

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Hector Silva
I have served my country in all elected capacities. Mayor, Legislator, Minister of government and Senator. I was born a villager of Carmelita, todays Santa Familia. My hobby all my life has been to research and research in order to find the truth.
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The first taxi between San Ignacio and Benque Viejo

This was the first taxi between San Ignacio and Benque Viejo, owned by Mr Chomon Guerra. The last time I saw it was in a yard in Benque Viejo, many years ago. This is where I first entered in a car in my life.

The second taxi was Mr. Denton Coleman and thereafter others followed. The first car to reach Benque Viejo was a Model T Ford owned by Mr Peter Moguel.

Denton Coleman and Cyril Simmons owned the first Cargo / Passenger Trucks. In those early days, there was no road to Bullet Tree yet.The first vehicle to reach Benque Viejo was Peter Moguel, on a Model T Ford. It is said that when people heard the horn of the car, they shouted. " PITO POLICE VAPOR DE TIERRA." Tono Awe was later, in fact one of the first private cars was owned by Mr. Luis Espat. During horse races Don Luis used to go up the Branch Mouth road to see the horses start and he would speed back into the savanah blowing the car horn, that the horses were coming - IT WAS FUN.


In the late 1800's, mostly immigrants and authoctonous Mayas began to settle in this Old Logging Camp, just as they did in Old San Ignacio.

The original English name of this area was OLD BANK. ( Benque Viejo )

There was an adjoining area,still in existence, which was named, LA BACADILLA, (or the Bacadier, where were dumped, before the floods took them down to the BOOM.

Around 1910, during the severe Bloody Revolutions in Mexico, many Mexican Families migrated to El Peten and British Honduras. Among them my Grand Parents, Casiano Silva and those of his older Brother Benigno Silva, now numbering HUNDREDS of Silvas, including me, your humble servant.

During the booming Chicle Industry, many other families made Benque Viejo their home, including many Arab Merchants and other Nationals.

All these past years I have been asking many persons from Benque, if they know, why so many homes were built with corrugated Zinc Roofing and Siding ?

No definate answer did I receive. - UNTIL I ASKED A VERY OLD RESIDENT.

His answer was simple. Lumber was scarce. It had to be imported from the United States, through John Harley. Long sheets could not be transported by mules. -SO MY PUZZLE WAS SOLVED and I got my answer. ( History sake )

This is the Town where my Parents and Grand parents settled. The appearance of the Town hid the bustling economy, where the currency was SOLID GOLD COINS, called SOLS, worth $5.00 ( Five B.H. dollar, ) and a SOLID SILVER COIN, called REALES, worth 12 1/2 cents B.H.

Tribute to Our Builders

Don Hernan Ochaeta shares a timely reminder on the historic transition of Belize's westernmost municipalities. Benque Viejo del Carmen and San Ignacio and Santa Elena attained township status on the same date.

On October 19, the municipalities of Benque Viejo del Carmen and San Ignacio celebrate their birthday, the day in 1904 when they achieved town status.

Residents of our communities in 1904, if they could be transferred in time, would find it difficult or impossible to recognize where they may find themselves today just as we, especially the young people, can only attempt to imagine what our communities were like more than a century ago.

The community each of us calls home didnít just happen and grow and develop with the stroke of a pen granting it village, town or city status.

Our communities were built and developed by our arrieros, muleteers, chicleros and timber workers who spent virtually the entire year away from their homes;

by our fishermen and farmers;
by our masons, blacksmiths and carpenters;
by our seamstresses, tailors and shoemakers;
by our mechanics and truck drivers;
by our jornaleros and woodcutters;
by our boatmen, dorey-men and dorey-women and water carriers;
by exemplary police officers and dedicated public servants;
by sanitation workers and road gangs;
by health and classroom workers;
by missionaries who left home and often country;
by our own parents and grandparents, and by their parents before them.

The remains of thousands of our communitiesí giant builders rest at the hallowed grounds of our countryís cemeteries.

To their everlasting memory, may we continue the great work they began.

Photographs and text courtesy Hector Silva

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