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History of Belize

Feb 12 • Categorized as History of Belize

Belize MapFour Civilizations of Belize. The country of Belize was carved within that large area known as the MAYAN EMPIRE. The carving of this unique nation in the Western Hemisphere came by evolution and not by accident, design or by intention.

This area which comprises the territory of Belize is bordered on the North by a river (The Rio Hondo), on the South by another river (The Sartoon River) and the entire Eastern Coast by the Caribbean Sea. At a point on the MID WESTERN border passes the Mopan River. SO, even though situated on the mainland of Central America, it has a lot in common with the Caribbean Island countries.

FOUR CIVILIZATIONS

The country of Belize has sheltered four civilizations. The FIRST civilization one being, the Maya Civilization which flourished for many centuries even Before Christ and built an advanced civilization which surpassed that of Europe at that time. Their many abandoned Temples and structures dot the landscape of Belize.

This is a feature which attracts thousands of visitors every year from many parts of the world. It should be of interest to note, that despite what many writers say, the Maya People still inhabit many areas of Belize and are contributors to the building of this new nation of Belize.

The SECOND civilization which attempted to occupy this area were the SPANIARDS. By several means they made the attempt to conquer by evangelization and conquest, with the Spade and the Cross. After many attempts, destroying the writings and settlements of the Maya, they abandon their many attempts.

Of special interest to mention is the fact, that out of one of these casual encounters, a NEW ETHNIC Human Species was created, named “THE MESTIZOS”. (a mixture of European and Amerindian people).

HOW DID THIS HAPPEN ?

In 1511, A Spanish Galleon, passing near the sea coast of what is todays Belize and Yucatan, capsized on the Reef known as Los Alacranes. After many days floating, the sea currents drifted the Spanish Crew towards the coast of Quintana Roo.

The Maya captured them and took them prisoners to the Chiefdom of Chac-te-mal. Many of the crew were imprisoned except for two of them; Gonzalo Guerrero and Jeronimo de Aguilar, who were taken to the Chief Nachan Can. Gonzalo a military by profession was enrolled as the head of Chac temal Warriors and Jeronimo, a Friar, by some means joined the Spaniard Voyager, Hernan Cortez in Northern Yucatan.

By some act of Nature, Gonzalo fell in love with Chief Nachan Can’s daughter “Zazilha”. This marriage procreated three children, which are the FIRST MESTIZOS of the Americas. So BELIZE can be safely called the Cradle of the Meztizo, which today are the dominant people of Latin America.

The THIRD civilization was the British Pirate/Colonizers. CAPTAIN PETER WALLACE an English Buccaneer, landed on the coast of today’s Belize in 1638, seeking a shelter or cove for pireteering on Spanish galleons transporting Gold from South America. At the same time they found that Belize abounded with Logwood, which was in great demand for its dye in textile coloring.

This was considered to them no “NO MAN’S LAND” BUT, the Spaniards thought otherwise, claiming that a Papal Bull (order from the Pope) gave them all rights to those territories which they claimed by “DISCOVERY”. After many treaties between England and Spain, the British took possession of the land they eventually baptized as British Honduras(today the Nation Of Belize).

The British colonized this settlement creating a Crown Colony in 1862. The purpose was to extract the precious wood called mahogany.

THEN ENTER the FOURTH occupation. The settlers (sons and daughters of the soil). After enduring the hardships of being Colonial Subjects, the settlers began to demand their right to ownership of the land of their birth.

A First Test occurred, on June 1st, 1797, when it was decided to cast a vote, whether it was worth the while to remain in the settlement, which being harassed by the Spaniards. The voting was conducted by the magistrates of the Settlement. When the results were in, there was a tie. 51 to stay and defend and 51 to abandon an move to the bay Islands of Honduras. BUT there appeared 14 settlers, all FREE BLACK MEN from the Belize River Valley, who requested to cast their vote. The all voted to remain and defend the Home Land. Thus the tie was broken and the results gave a 65 to 51 in favor of staying.

On the 10th September 1798, Spain made its last attempt to occupy Belize, but were repelled by the Settlers in what is now called “The Battle of St. George’s Caye“. Thereafter, the settlement was considered, “territory held in undisturbed Possession“. This of course led to the aspiration to build a nation.

THE BUILDING OF A NATION

As the years ensued, the settlement, surrounded by developing and Independent Nations such as; Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras became aware that as a Colony, there was little hope of development, as a Colony serves the purpose of taking out of it that which is valuable, for the Colonizers.

BUT the awakening occurred on the 31st of December, 1950, when the national currency was devalued from that of being at PAR with the U.S.A. currency to almost half. Belizeans, led by five young Belizean men namely; John Smith, George Price, Leigh Richardson, Phillip Goldson and Nicholas Pollard got together and planned protests against this injustice.

They formed themselves into a People’s Committee and took to the streets, alleyways, byewayes and country side explaining to the people the purpose of this people’s movement. This movement was embraced by people of all walks of life and on the 29th September of 1950, the People’s Committee became the People’s United Party, which promoted the “Peaceful and Constructive Belizean Revolution”.

The Movement was not to the liking of the Colonial Power, so a vigorous struggle was launched to remove the obstructions as they were hatched by the Colonial administrators. The first test was held in 1952, when the PUP won seats in the Belize City Council. Thereafter a petition was made by the People’s United Party for Adult Suffrage (the right to vote for the disenfranchised because of lack of wealth). In the General Elections of 1954, 57, 61, 69, 74 and 79, the people voted the Movement of Independence to govern the country.

In 1964, Belize was grant full Internal Self Government, with an all Belizean Cabinet of Ministers.(I was honored to serve in this Cabinet) From here forward the task was to prepare Belizeans for the attainment of INDEPENDENCE on the 21st of September 1981. The Right Honorable George Cadle Price became the First Prime Minister. Upon his retirement, he was designated as the FATHER OF THE NATION.

About the Author Hector David Silva Sr. O.B.E.

Hector Silva Bio PictureWas born, the son of a Cattle Farmer of Belize, on the 22nd of November 1933. Under sacrifices of traveling by River Boat from my home town San Ignacio, Cayo District to the Port Capital City of Belize, I attended a Jesuit High School, St. John’s College.

Upon Graduating, I was employed by the Citrus Company of British Honduras, either for my academic qualification or because I was a notable Soccer Star. BUT I only did a short sojourn with this company, as I was called to duty by the Liberator of my country, the Right Honorable George Cadle Price to take political charge of the Cayo District, the largest district in my country Belize.

In 1958, at the tender age of 24, I was exposed to my first political challenge of entering the Municipal elections of 1958. Upon my overwhelming victory, I was appointed to serve, as the first Official Mayor of the Twin Towns of San Ignacio and Santa Elena. Thereafter, I was re-elected to this post for 3 periods.

In 1961, I was again asked to enter the National General Election for one of the two constituencies of the Cayo District. I was victorious and won on three consecutive general elections for this constituency. During this period, I was selected by the Prime minister to serve as Minister of Public Works, Public utilities and Communications, and on a another period as Minister of Local Government, Social Welfare, Cooperatives and Sports.

Then in 2005 and 2009, I was again taken out of retirement as asked to serve as a Senator, which I did with honor.

IN MY LIFE ACTIVITIES, I have served in numerous Government committee and non government organizations and represented in many World Bodies and countries.

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  1. Four Civilizations of Belize Belize was carved within that large area known as the MAYAN EMPIRE. The carving of this unique nation in the Western Hemisphere came by evolution « Macarena Rose

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