This is a summary of the 13 chapters of a history of Belize by Assad Shoman. It entails tables, maps and boxes, acknowledgments, foreword, introduction, map of Belize, then the thirteen chapters, notes, bibliography and index. It has 323 pages, 13 pictures, 16 tables, 3 maps, and 3 boxes. Assad shoman’s engaging about the social, political and economic history of Belize compelling relates the rich history of the peoples of Belize to the present condition in which the country finds itself. He scrutinizes some of the most culturally and politically sensitive aspects of Belize’s history, without flinching and with a passionate viewpoint. Assad not only presents us with the historical data, but offers us some explanation and interpretation of what the hard facts mean.
This chapter is a history of Belize which intents to clarify the formation and development of the present state. The presence of the British, in turn resulted from the coming of Christopher Columbus to the Americans and the subsequent incursions by various European powers. Columbus thought that he had lands in India. The Maya Frontier includes the division of ancient Maya Civilization. It was divided into three periods. The pre-classic, classic and the post classic. The Mayan continues to re cerate their civilization with accommodations and adjustment reflecting their particular environment. The classic period saw the culminations of the tremendous achievements that began appearing in the pre- classic period, and that’s architecture, the arts, mathematics, astronomy and writing. During the classic period said to be so called, Maya civilization between 250A.D and 900 A.D, the Maya area include southern Mexico. Western Honduras and El Salvador, Guatemala and Belize, What is now? Several sites in Belize served as important points. The territory known as Belize includes three distinct Maya area of control when the Spaniards arrived. The first two had the greatest contacts with the Europeans. Maya society at the time of contact, when the Maya collapse that does not make them to disappear.
Revert to the disorganized bands it just make them continue to live and organized society, to practice their religion also to engage trade and other relations with different communities near and far. The Maya relied primarily on collective labor to meet their various obligations. The position of women in the Maya society is not yet understood, they cannot say if male dominance was accentuated as a result of the totally male character of the early Spanish presence. Maya- Spanish contact women were prime suffers in the enterprise, being the victim of rape, torture and abuse. Eduardo Galeano cites and incident where natives peoples surround a Spanish fort and call on them to surrender. The time when Davila proceeded to Chetumal he found that the town was completely deserted, the Maya having melted away in the bush. By 1630 the Maya of Belize were showing open signs of revolt again and more than a few villages on the Sibun and also Sittee Rivers were abandoned. The Maya were subjected to all manner4 of indignities and brutality. Regardless of their decimation, the horror and their lost also their age of old spirit of resistance struggle. The men and women lived to fight another day.
At the dawn of the 17th century, Spain was the European Country which controlled and dominated the ‘Caribbean Space’ in the ‘New World. It did not remain in control for long and in the 17th and 18th centuries the Caribbean was in a war zone. British Pirates and those of the other nations raided Spanish ships for whatever lucrative cargo they carried. In the middle 17th century the British pirates eventually decided that is was safer to cut logwood themselves than wrest it from the Spaniards. This was also as a result of the treaty of Madrid (1670) to suppress piracy hence the pirates began to look for places where the wood source was available. The British attempted to cut logwood along an extensive stretch of coast, from Campeche to Nicaragua. Over the years however, in an attempt to reduce violence and maintain control several treaties were implemented between Spain and England. These included Treaty of Paris (1763), when the logwood cutters were recognized and Treaty of Versailles (1783), when the rights of the logwood cutters were recognized and limits were defined.
Most of the cutters congregated in what became Belize as a result of the Convention of London, as a result of the cries of the cutters about the limits defined previously, there request for an extension of the limits was adhered to under the condition that the Mosquito Coast be evacuated. The right to cut Mahogany was also included since Logwood was eventually replaced by Mahogany, which was and is prized in making high end furniture. Harvesting and cutting of logwood did not require the British settlers to penetrate too far inland, however as the logwood era transferred to mahogany it became necessary to venture inland, where the woodcutters came in contact with the Mayas who the British believed were claiming their territory. In the beginning, the British believed that the Mayas were no threat but as they moved further into the nesting of the Mayas, they realized that they had underestimated the Mayas and sought for help in their claim to the land eventually driving the Mayas more inland, not understandably without struggle and death on both sides, the Mayas fighting to keep their home and the British fighting to make their profit.
The main focus of this chapter is how slaves were being treated in Belize, what conditions that they go through, and the way they resisted and revolted back against their masters, some of the jobs that they are engaged in and how slavery came to a sudden halt in the British Colonies. Typically there are no laws protecting their rights. The following subtopics informs us about the way slaves escape the hard conditions that they are experiencing and the way they come back to the settlement to revolt and after which the emancipation act was passed, which then ended the slavery in 1840.
Throughout this particular chapter it talks about the slave society in Belize and the harsh conditions that they experience and how both male and female slaves resisted their masters. The male slaves are the one to lead the way to obtain their freedom and the women are the ones who had to make a decision either to abandon her children on the plantation or take them with her through the unfamiliar jungle. Slavery all began when Christopher Columbus discovered the new world and established settlement for other Europeans to come and inhabit the area.
Some of the typical jobs for male slaves were to cut logwood and mahogany which were the main export at that time, women were the ones to make and tend to the plantations and feed the family when the males are not there. However, this came to an abrupt halt after a law is passed for permitting slaves to cultivate crops for themselves. Over all these years, some slaves escaped to the Spanish territories who claim that they will protect the slaves. The Spanish territories gladly accepted the slaves because of the fact that they want to diminish the British colonies force.
The first British settlers in Belize were those pirates and buccaneers who, having been prevented from practicing that profession in 1670 and were in no hurry in establishing laws. They had no intentions of establishing permanent home here because they were cutting logwood and where only squatting land that was claimed by Spain and inhabited by the Maya. They needed some form of resolution for the disputes over logwood claim. There was a seven decades conflict, which ended in 1853, over power and authority between the British settlers and the superintendent because of settlements. Also in 1853, the first formal constitution was enacted. Sir William Burnaby, commander in chief, visited the settlement and reinforced laws that the settlers must abide by called “Burnaby’s code”. There are laws against cursing and swearing. Crimes and misdemeanors are punished according to custom of the bay. In 1853, the Public Meeting abolished itself by passing an act to amend the system of British Honduras” and stated that the Legislature should consist of the superintendent and the Legislative Assembly. The assembly consisted of 21 members-18 elected and 3 appointed by the superintendent. In order for this to happen the participant had to be a male, at least 21 years old and a natural born British had to have a personal property of British Honduras 400 pounds Sterling.
Chapter five lets us know how the population of Belize was populated towards the end of the nineteenth century. There are three major facts that have a permanent effect on Belize: the Maya uprising in the Yucatan; the economy passed from the settlers to metropolitan hands; and the evolving regional geopolitical of the land that gave Britain massive control of the land. These events influenced where and how our territory was populated and as why such people came over to Belize. A people created, dispersed and re-formed specifically talks about how the Garifuna were brought to Belize and how they became part of our population. There first presence in Belize was in 1802. They were first brought by the British to St.Vincent and then deported to Roatan in Honduras. From here the Garifuna would escape slavery and go to other settlements for refuge. These inhabitants can be found along the coast of Central America from Stann Creek, Belize to Pearl Lagoon, Nicaragua. There was also the presence of Caribs and Arawaks in this area. These people started to interact with each other and intermarrying with each other. This resulted in more unity and they would attack European settlements and take them as slaves to assist in their revolt. With this close connection with each other they were given the name as Black Caribs.
The most important migration of these Black Caribs was in 1832 because of backing the losing side in Honduras. More of them came from Trujillo, Livingston, Omoa, and San Felipe fled to our country Belize. This was important to the log cutters as they needed more workers. This migration is best known as the 19th, of November and is celebrated as a national holiday. These Black Caribs are very skilled workers and were mostly involved in cultivation. There rights were not recognized but they constantly fought towards it until a happy conclusion was drawn by the governor. The Maya War in Belize was war amongst the tribe of the many Mayas in the region. This war had effects as raiding of log wood camps and so forth. At this time the Yucatecos had taken over Bacalar in 1849. This was a war between the Chichanha Maya, Cruzob and Asuncion Ek. These groups were all local tribes of the larger Mayan empire that fled from Mexico to Belize. There was also a group called the Icaiche who eventually fled over to Mexico and died away.
In the late 1861 they agreed with the British for a peace. Population growth was significant as to where the people came from and why they came to the Belize settlement. By 1850 there were 16 settlements that have been established. Also they imported many Caribbean and Chinese to work at the agriculture and sugar industries. The rapid growth of the chicle and banana production brought many immigrants to the Belize settlement from neighboring countries. By this time the population grew by an average of 5.7% per year between 1871 and 1891. Finally hundreds of Kekchi and Mopan Mayas fled to Belize. These immigrants came from Alta Verapaz and Petén provinces in Guatemala. The Kekchi were mostly plantation workers as they were used to working in coffee plantation from where they came from. In 1990 there were some 3,600 Kekchi in Toledo. Unlike the Mopan Mayas were independent small farmers. By the end of the 19th, century the population was at 40,000. This significance was important to the economical growth of Belize.
The extraction of forest products in Belize created conditions different from British colonies in the Caribbean. First, because forest work required less labor than sugar plantations, there was no need for a large population. This is why even today Belize has only 7 per cent of Jamaica’s population, although we are twice the size of that island. Secondly, forest exploitation as practiced in Belize did not require much machinery, capital, or roads. Thirdly, there was no attempt to replace the trees that were cut. Eventually, slow-growing mahogany trees became scarce. But logwood did not remain the main economic activity in Belize. By 1770 there was more logwood in the market than was needed, and the price fell. Later, the development of cheaper man-made dyes in Europe lessened the need for logwood even more. When settlers were driven out from Belize by the Spanish in 1779, they had already found an alternative that was more profitable and longer lasting – the export of mahogany Mahogany dominated the economic, social and political life of our country until the middle of the 20th century.
In the 18th century, mahogany was valued in Europe by cabinet makers, by the shipbuilding industry, and later by builders of railroad carriages. The forests of Belize contained a great deal of mahogany. The British settlers were ready to log it. The shift from logwood to mahogany cutting produced several dramatic changes in the settlement. The cutting of mahogany required more land, workers and capital and resulted in the creation of a small wealthy class who owned at first, imports were totally controlled by the same people who controlled the export of timber. Then, in the 1920’s, the entrepot trade with Central America grew and about four-fifths of the Central America trade went through Belize. Goods from Britain and the United States were imported into Belize first and then exported to other countries of the region. In 1860’s, during the USA’s civil war, the Belize merchants also profited by contraband trade with the Confederates. Even without the entrepot and contraband trades the merchants were still very rich and powerful. They continued to be so long after forest exploitation declined most of the land and labor.
One of the most important literary critics and philosophers of the late 20th century was that the Culture and Imperialism was hailed as long-awaited and seen as a direct successor to his main work Orientalism. It is impossible however, not to notice that the taking and controlling of other people’s land by another is a truly universal theme. By the 1800s China itself was once again the victim of new invaders from Manchuria, known as Manchus, who had taken control, and to this day China remains an occupying force in Tibet. In 1881 its population was still less than 6000, or about a fifth of the country’s population. But African cultural expressions were not always accommodated. Despite attempts to suppress elements of African culture, the Belize town society that evolved during the nineteenth century was one in which the British shared a small space with Africans and increasingly creoles. The early settlers, regarding the place as a temporary camp from which to extract wood and their slaves as only the instruments for so doing, were not too preoccupied with religious matters. As they became more settled, the need for religious instruction was perceived.
The Creole society was emerged from the process by which the lighter skinned creoles had an advantage because their history of miscegenation gave them greater opportunities for advancement through contacts and education. Stanley Tambiah describes ethnicity as the creation of a collective identity by a social process involving “ideas of inheritance, ancestry and descent, place or territory of origin, and the sharing of kinship, any one or combination of which may be invoked as a claim according to context and calculation of advantages.” Over subsequent days the Spanish retreated to Yucatan and never again was the settlement of Belize to suffer military invasions by the Spanish. The Baymen later acknowledged, in writing, that the outcome showed the settlement could not have successfully been defended without the aid of 1200 or so adult male slaves.
Their collective battle cry was “Shoulder to shoulder”. It was valiant men who stood against overwhelming odds and it took brains to prepare an impenetrable defense. In 1898, the 10th of September was declared a public holiday, in honor of the Baymen, to celebrate the Battle of St. George’s Caye. On September 10th, 1798, Belize’s destiny was being planned. The outcome of the battle predicted the fate of this young nation and would mold its future in many different respects, as compared to those of its neighbors. As a result, today Belize is the only country in Central America where English is the official language. Furthermore, her history, culture, and people all contribute to the diversity and flair of what is Belize – an uncommon and exceptional trait in the region. Today, over 200 years later, the 10th of September is still celebrated as a National Holiday in Belize. Many activities are planned all over the country to commemorate this historical event, which garners great support from the Belizean public. In the economic relations the Mestizo elite were in possession of capital and had experience of sugar production in Yucatan, which enable them to successfully establish sugar estates in Belize.
The people had to fight against the racism that permeated the society, exploitation of their labor, patriarchal structures and political structures that denied them a voice in the making of decisions affecting their lives. Although the effects of racial discrimination were very obvious, the rulers denied that racism existed. Divisions were created between the various ethnic groups in the colony. Dissatisfaction among workers was created by a law in 1849. A Petition of the Labourers was presented, but the Governor called a meeting saying that they could not afford higher wages. Almost immediately riots were caused leading to wage cuts. This chapter talks about the people’s resistance to oppression and the struggles the people suffered. The prevailing racism of the society was exposed by the efforts the working community did in order to change the way they were living. Due to the law created in 1849, the working class community was affected because they could not afford to keep up with the prices. The cost of living had increased because of the failure of wages.
The economy in Belize was always in crisis but the Great Depression that began in 1929, totally shattered the economy. A new organization was created called the Labourers and Unemployed Association that helped to bring about a constitutional change; however this change was ruined by the unofficial members because of Britain’s insistence that the governor be given “reserve powers” to pass bills over the objections of the council. The LUA used techniques such as demonstrations, strikes and petitions in order to pressure the government into granting the demands of the working class. By 1930, the Labourers and Unemployed Association had disappeared. An important limitation on the militancy of unions was the fact that settlements were often made by invoking the cooperation of the state. Other issues such as the imperial design for the British colonies also served to weaken the unity of the workers. The workers’ movement created many advances but the struggle against employers was once again overtaken.
Chapter nine is pivotal, in the text thirteen chapters because from my readings it is the foundation to the rise of political parties in modern Belize. In the 1930’s the struggle of working class were directed at improving their conditions of life and work within the colonial system. Even before the 1930’s, soldiers that return from world war one, having experience modern way of life style in developed nation, incited the campaign for a better standard of living, in the colony called British Honduras presently called Belize. A man such as Soberanis was influence by the teachings of Marcus Garvey, which led to the campaign and a move towards self government and independence. The essence of Chapter Nine is the birth of party politics in Belize which became the birth of unionism and due to the devaluation of the British Honduras currency. The working class was suffering from low wages and poor living conditions in the colony. Through the Belize Bill Board, Journalist such as Goldson wrote articles about the movement fighting towards independences that took place in other British Colonies. Soldiers returning from world war two also joined movement in fighting for better living condition along with men such as Smith, Fuller, Price, Wade, and Goldson.
The fact was that these people fighting for better living came from the G.W.U (General Workers Union). They were able to flex their muscles and show the colonial government that their intensions were real and that their demand must be taken seriously. As faith would have it, the British system of divide and conquer did not materialize for the P.U.P (People United Party) splintered and those loyal to George price stay with him. And those loyal to Richardson and Goldson followed them to form the Honduras Independent Party. Which amalgamated with NP (National party) to make the N.I.P (National Independent party) and eventually led to the U.D.P (United Democratic Party?) to become chief opposition to the George price led PUP which dominated the Party Politics until 1984.The United Democratic Party’s foundation consisted of those loyal to the crown. Those who were Anti- Guatemala, the PUP’s on the other hand were more interested in independence and self government even though they were accused of being communist and pro Guatemala. In conclusion through all the struggles, the attainment of independence and better living conditions were the issues that our political fore father fought for. Belize is still striving for economic independence the dreams for economical stability shall continue to be the number agenda for our political leaders, though we are politically and independent country.
The nationalists took office in the 1960’s and intensified the capitalist modernization policies initiated by the British. The socioeconomic measure they develop sometimes required painful adjustment. Belize’s economy had depended for three centuries of import and export. The British transitional tale and Lyle controlled sugar production, processing and marketing. Commercial interests grew rapidly, and the population became more dependent on imported foods. State resources-for infrastructure, loans, and other inputs were invested in the export industries. Farmers outside the northern district were kept quiescent because of the PUP’s movement to allocate them in idle state lands acquired from barge lawnmowers. It was easy for government to satisfy land hunger for the small population of 90,000 in 1960. But in the Corozal district, the mestizo and the Maya farmers were turned into a rural proletariat, paring the way for organized action.
Factory operations began in 1937, and soon afterwards the factory sold its attached lands, Estrella estate to colonial Agricultural Development Company (CADCO), as us firm. During the 1960’s most Corozal rural men became members of the CFA, and not surprisingly it became characterized by confusion and internal conflict, as opposing factions tried to interpret the laws and the use CFA to suit their interests. Mateo Ayuso was a Mestizo who attended St. John’s Teacher’s College, both in Belize City he then taught in various schools in three districts and later joined the Department of Cooperatives. He became the first accountant/secretary, and later manager of CFA. Jesus ken was a Maya living in Xaibe whose great grandfather had been a leader of the Santa Cruz Maya in the Caste War. He had spent some time in Mexico as a Mahogany cutter and then returned to work as a cane cutter in Corozal.
The PUP was central to the sugar politics of Corozal. Its candidate for 1954 elections was a GWU organize. In 1963 negotiations were under way for Tate and Lyle to purchase the Corozal sugar factory and all associated companies Ken relied heavily on mass action to promote his cause. The government intent on cooperating with Tate and Lyle to affect a massive expansion of the industry. Tate and Lyle’s decision to build a new factory in the orange Walk District, far from the old one, was rooted in its determination to benefit from the concession negotiated with government. Sugar was no doubt a great success story in the 1970’s perceived as such by Tate and Lyle, by the national government. The ecological consequences became clear by the late 1970’S although few at the time were willing to expose the effects on the last amount of chemical fertilizers.
This claim has had many far reaching consequences in Belize. The claim has served to paint, a monochromatic picture of Belize- Guatemala relations. This claim has also contribute to Belize isolation from and consequent ignorance of and prejudices concerning. Origin of the claim the Guatemalan government claims that Belize was administrated by Spain. Negotiation, the modern series of negotiation to resolves the dispute began in 1962, Belize was first, elected representative were presented as part of the British team. Internationalization, the Central American government supported Guatemala’s claim in 1971 a campaign was launched. It was not until the Sandinistas over threw the Somoza regime.
No land cession Belize was assisted by a special Ministerial committee of the commonwealth established as it summit meeting. The heads of agreement, during this meeting British realized that it would not possibly to arrive at a settlement. Independence and its consolidation Belize became the 156th member of the UN on September 25th 1981. Resurgence of the claim, it alleged the PUP government either deliberate encourage the British to pull out. As long as the Guatemalan claim remains alive issue, Belizeans will continue to consider it as the only threat to the country’s independence. Political Developments, in the closest election in Belizean history, the UDP/NABR coalition took 16 seats to the PUP’s. How independence won and lost, one party may criticize the other for doing certain things. The more things change the more they remain the same.
Belize is becoming integrated with increased tourism, trade liberalization economic and financial market but it have an impact on the way they live. Belize is therefore similar to other countries, Belize is different because the way in which its people have interacted with the environment and with each other. These differences make Belize unique. The imperial system; this nation is part of the global system which the people has no deciding voice. The third world countries are still burdened by huge unplayable debt like the workers under the advance of track system they will never escape from the debt trap. Third world countries like Belize are being forced to stop protecting their producers by tariff and to open their economies more to foreign control. Financial times, however, A UN Agency noted that the gap between rich and poor had double in 1960. Belize economy is reliant on imports and exports due to the high growth rate based on sugar prices the economy took tumble when the price fell drastically and the government had to make agreement with the IMF and USA ID.
Therefore involved the reduction in health and education, so then the producers in the sugar, citrus industry will have to become competitive with the world’s large producers by concentration of ownership and thus cheaper labour still farmers have managed to make it self sufficient in corn and beans Economic strategy have occurred in the service sector , which is tourism ,it has the greatest expansion but, tourism development is dominated by foreigners and does little to the productive economy because its input are imported .Trade policy in terms removing anti-export through trade liberalization will have the effect of increasing imports. This will therefore affect small farmers who can find it impossible to compete with cheaper products. Government revenue will also suffer changes because of liberalization .When governments cannot protect their expenditure declined in real terms primary care is the main casualties of the IMF stabilization .When government cannot protect the people they have to seek a way of survival.
Next major impact of economics conditions is the population movement. Migrations and Emigrations to other countries because of jobs. Rural folk another group who are discriminated by the socio economic system are those who live in rural areas. Belize is becoming more rural due to most recent Central America immigrants in the rural areas scarcity of jobs and emigration of urban folk. Therefore the rural areas are worse off than the urban folk. Electricity can be why the people in urban are better off than the other, schools and trained teachers. Students who went to secondary are mostly urban people and very few rural went, especially the females. Major factors are because government resources are very little. The history of Belize is the story off attempts to impose a system of exploitation and domination and the peoples reaction to it .Belize has changed in many ways but in other way it remained the same. Therefore, these developments have a direct impact on people’s lives and on the way they view themselves and their society.
The central point in this chapter is where we come from and who we are and to understand and respond to our present movement within the vision of history. Yes, it is very important for us to know the struggles of our people in the forward movement of our nation. We also need to acknowledge our heroes who help us through the movement of what is now this present nation. The development of the nation did not happen by one person nor did it happen just like that. No! Everyone contributed enormously for this change to be a reality. It is said that there have always been that gap between the poor and the rich. But if you want something you got to work for it. Nothing comes easy and free in this world. But in the past and even today we can see that the poor people are always been taken advantage of. And so the people with less substance had to work hard for every crumb they get. Like a phrase that said, “What you put in is what you will get out”. But it says that if people were poor it was because they were lazy or stupid, not because the system made them so by denying opportunities to them. As a result of this gap, Belize experiences increasingly crime rates and violence which leads to a feeling of hopelessness.
Many of our youths are being conditioned to gratification where by everything new they see they want and to take what they want. This is what leads to so much crimes and violence in the streets and you can see it for a fact in Belize City. You are even fearful to walk the streets there. A factor which leads to this is globalization. Like for example, imported television. Viewing the cruel stuffs and things being advertised has corrupted the minds of our young people. But Assad Shoman said that television is good in a way because it keeps us inform about issues around the globe. It depends on the viewer itself but parents should monitor their child at all times. The role of the state changes during its past years. The government is now allowed to intervene in the economy by itself. The state had also opened up many more global markets to global forces. Today, a large population of our people benefits hugely from it. They are able to sell much more than before. Our capitalist system has moved people, goods, technology, finance, ideas and images around the world, which have resulted in a diverse global culture. Our nation has encountered societal breakdown and the people is beginning to lose their culture and traditions.
This is as of a direct result of globalization because of the communication and the exposure to the American culture and the way of living. The importing of fashion clothing, American foods, and seeing how they act have a great impact on the lives of our present generation. This is a drastic change that was made during the development of our nation. It is said that there is a move to overcome a real non-participation syndrome that affects most of our people especially those who are working. Because they have come to realized and feel that they are being left out and that no one would listen to them when they have something to say or try to help. There is a civil society organization that is trying to fix this issue. The organization would help the people to understand that education must play a key role in the process. But the only way these people would change their way of thinking is through education. They need to be convinced in order for them to speak up and stop holding their thoughts. So this is why Lamming urges that schools need to change their way of teaching because of the influence slavery had in the institution. Every individual should know what is going on in his or her own country.