Dia de San Pedro receives showers of blessings

by Lydia Chuc and Dorian Nuñez

On Friday, June 27, at 7:30 p.m., Dia de San Pedro celebrations commenced with a lecture by Professor Ligia Sierra from the University of Quintana Roo. She spoke about the Guerra de las Castes and the resulting founding of San Pedro. At about 9:00 p.m. at the old football field, despite the rain, people gathered under the Belikin tent to witness the opening ceremonies. The high school band and Mundo Divididos, a band from Mexico, entertained the crowd after.

On Saturday, June 28th, at about 9:00 p.m. Angel Nuñez, Master of Ceremonies, introduced the Belize Dance Company who performed their latest dances under the theme "Black rhythms of Belize." Their dances were well received. Music was provided by a turtle shell and Garifuna drums band and Mr. Peters and his Boom and Chime band. The dances performed depicted events in Belizean History such as the enslavement of African ancestors. Cultural and day to day events in the life of the Creole and Garifuna people were also presented in the form of dance.

The San Pedro High School band performed after the Belize Dance Company and were followed by the Mexican band Mundo Divididos. During intermissions Ozzy the clown entertained the crowd with jokes and a juggling act.

At around 4:00 a.m. the following morning, the fire truck wailed its sirens as it passed through the main streets of San Pedro. The church bells promptly rang announcing the start of the traditional mass held for the men of San Pedro. People gathered after the mass at the Lion's Den for breakfast where hot coffee, coco and powder buns were served. Immediately following breakfast the crowd dispersed to their skiffs to participate in the traditional skiff procession and blessing. But due to the rain the procession was poorly attended and only about 15 skiffs were blessed at the Texaco gas station at the fishing cooperative.

The festivities ended on Sunday night at the old football field where Mundo Divididos and the New Combination Band entertained the crowd.

Professor talks about San Pedro history

In spite of the unpredictable weather on Friday night, the Ambergris Historical Society's first public lecture was attended by an enthusiastic audience. Professor Ligia Sierra from the University of Quintana Roo spoke about the Caste War and the resulting foundation of San Pedro on June 27, at the Lion's Den as part of the Dia de San Pedro celebrations.

The Caste War started around 1847 with Spanish intervention in the lifestyles of the Maya Indians in the Yucatan Peninsula. The Spaniard manipulation of the land's resources, tax implementation and manipulation of their lifestyles caused the Mayan revolt. The number of Maya decreased due to massive killing in vast number of revolts against the Spaniards. The Maya's only intention was to gain recognition as a people and a life without constant manipulation by the Spaniard hierarchy. The Yucatan Maya had to change their mode of production and constantly fight for their land that was unlawfully taken away from them. They made countless pleas to the Spaniards which were ignored and thus the Caste Wars broke out in the major cities of the Yucatan Peninsula. Yucatecan Maya involvement with Belize started when they started to flee from Yucatan and began working with the logging and chicle industry. This brought about the founding of the Corozal and Orange Walk Districts. The end of the Caste War was declared officially over in 1904 and this month of July marks the 150th year of the beginning of the war and the ideology of the Mayan struggle.

Sierra's presentation was very educational and some interesting issues about the Caste War and its effects on the settlement of Belize were raised by the audience.

The Board of the Historical Society would like to thank the San Pedro Town Board, the Mexican Cultural Institute, the Mayan Princess, the San Pedro Lions, Hol Chan Marine Reserve and Prof. Ligia Sierra for their support in making the evening a success.

San Pedro Sun

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