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Celebrating Belize Independence, students joy in September

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On Friday 15 September, I was lucky to be at St. Martin’s Government Primary School in the country’s capital of Belmopan.  I was there to talk to students about the importance of celebrating the 36th anniversary of Belize’s Independence. The kids were dressed in white, red and blue; the main colors of our unique Belize flag.
At around 9 o’clock in the morning, the teachers were busy making final adjustments to the decors of the stage. The kids were asked to bring their chairs out to the assembly area. The sound-system blasted popular nationalist hits like “Ya da fu we Belize”.
I was worried about what I could say to such a diverse range of students. There were students from infant one to standard five.  They represented many of Belize’s ethnic groups such as Maya, Mestizo, Creole, and Garifuna. Many kids spoke to each other in Spanish, which was not surprising because the school is located in Salvapan. This was the area where many refugees and migrants settled in the 1980s following ci…

Paycation or Payscam: Belize’s New Certified Travel Agency

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Introduction 
Two weeks ago, I saw that a lady posted on Facebook that she had completed a training to be a Certified Travel Agent. She appeared interested in doing bookings for Belizeans. I was a bit puzzled by this. I would have expected that it’s much more lucrative to book tours for international visitors to Belize than being interest in booking Belizeans out of country. Thinking little of it, I just continued scrolling my Facebook feed.
Certificate received by Belizean
Today, I became suspicious when I saw another Belizean posted that he too had completed a program and is now a Certified Travel Agent. I was compelled to do a little investigation. It turns out the certificate are being issued by a company named Xstream Travel operating out of the United States.
Upon visiting the website, my suspicions become more acute. I am aware of the general features of website scams and this had all of them, reflecting the handiwork of an amateur. It is a basic website with no substantive conten…

The BTB Branding: How to Be Eurocentric & Why Not in Belize

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It’s been two years since the Belize Tourism Board (BTB) launched the “Discover How to Be” promotional tourism video (“Discover How to Be”, 2013). However, it was until this week that I encountered the video on Facebook and I must express a grave dismay with the production. I would like to call attention to the segment (time slot: 1:11-1:20) which displays the text “be primitive” and “be peculiar” with our Maya archeological sites in the background. The representation of our indigenous heritage and people as “primitive” and “peculiar” is the perpetuation of Eurocentric discourse which facilitated the enslavement and exploitation of indigenous peoples and non-Europeans in general. To allow this representation of Belize for local and international consumption is disrespectful and prejudicial.

The use of the terms “primitive” and “peculiar” in this context are derived from and are reflective of European colonization, enslavement, and hegemony over non-Europeans. These historical processe…

Belize Recieves Leadership Training for Social and Environmental Justice

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The Belize Institute of Environmental Law and Policy (BELPO) held its first Leadership Training for Social and Environmental Justice for young adults from August 15-17, 2014. 
BELPO partnered with the Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide (ELAW) and the Centre for Creative Leadership (CCL) to create a leadership program to act as a beginning for a non-partisan and non-sectarian way forward for striving for social justice and protecting the natural resources of Belize for present and future generations.


The training program sought to encourage 15 future leaders to work for social and environmental justice issues by helping them see their own potential for change in Belize.  This involved demonstrating that they can choose to make a difference based upon their own ideas and plans. 
These dedicated young adults spent 2½ days at duPlooys Jungle Lodge and Resort (Cayo) increasing their leadership capacity by developing more self-awareness, creativity, problem-solving and collaboration skills.
O…

Fiji’s Elections 2014: From “Fiji for Fijians” to “We are all Fijians”

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Introduction

The use of the term “Fijian” as a label for national identification remains a significant ideological frame in the run up for elections to be held on September 17, 2014.
By ideological frame, I refer to the fact that phrase “We are all Fijians” is represented by an array of inter-related set of stories, symbols, images, as well as rhetoric in an attempt  to define and provide reasons as to why the public should or should not vote for a political party. This ideology is represented as the highest maxim of social equality. It is used to justify, maintain, and increase popular support for the Fiji First Party.
This is visible in the media, where political candidates are often asked to take a position on this issue. The premise is that if we know the candidate’s position on this, we will know their core political values and vision for Fiji. Those who are hesitant to support ‘Fijian’ as a common-term or ‘national identity’ are explicitly and implicitly cued to be proponents …

Perspectives on the Belizean Status Quo: A commentary on “Stasis in Belize”

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During my study of Belizean history at the University of Belize, we often talked about “why are things the way they are? And how can we make a change?
In our history sessions, Professor Iyo would often make reference to “stasis” as a way of understanding the Belizean status quo (i.e. the existing state of affairs). As his students, he would recommend that we read his co-authored paper with Michael Rosberg entitled: “Theoretical Perspectives on the Stasis of Class Relations in the Caribbean: the Belize Case Study”.
I recall that Prof. Iyo would employ two analogies to introduce us to the concept of stasis. He once drew a spiral on the board. A spiral he would remark is a gradually progressing curve which emanates from a central point. For the spiral to take shape, it encircles the path of its previous inscription. Therefore, the spiral has a directional flow but it is non-linear, gradual and apparently redundant.
The second analogy, he often used, was comparing stasis to the movement of…