Letters — 27 September 2013 — by Joseph Alvarez

Dear Editor,

It was welcome news to learn that the Belize Tourism Board has decided to give an apology on their decision to use the music of Aurelio Martinez, a Honduran national, as the sound of their recently released video to showcase Belize. It’s a welcome gesture, but I thought it did not go far enough.

A few days later it was reported that they also had removed the music as well – which would be the right thing to do. It was shocking to all Belizeans that this very prestigious and important organization, which is tasked with the responsibility of promoting and marketing Belize, could have made such an incredible decision. Why is it that the people who are expected to make the best decisions for the betterment of all the people of this country continue to disrespect and insult us?

This latest fiasco reminds me of the plight of our national football team, the Belize Jaguars, in July.
One would have thought that of all the government ministries, the Tourism Ministry, along with the Belize Tourism Board, would have taken up the mantle and sponsored the national team. This exposure and the marketing capability for the country would have automatically accompanied such endeavor. It’s deja vu all over again, and this time it’s our music.

It has become a trend to disenfranchise and discourage our youth as they strive to be the best that they could be. Our country is longing for genuine and authentic local entertainment. This particular opportunity to have his or her music and song accompany the video that tells Belize’s story should be given to the most accomplished Belizean musician. Being a Belizean was not even a requirement to be considered for that spot, was one of BTB’s excuses for making such an unpopular choice – UNBELIZEABLE. These people are so disconnected from our reality that they chose to launch this new video in September, a time when all Belizeans unite to celebrate our two most important national holidays.

There were so many Belizean artists to choose from. Even if it was Shyne, I could have lived with that. After all, his story is very intriguing and probably tells the real story of where we are as a nation. For me, the ultimate choice to fill that prestigious position should have been Andy Palacio’s music, because even though he is gone, his music is alive. This artist had become a musical icon for our country and I still believe that he has not been given the kind of recognition that he deserved.

Andy has taken our music to the world in a way that no other artist has done before. Let’s not forget, Belize, our very own musical legend and his exemplary achievement as a Belizean. His story must be told not only to tourists, but more importantly to our children.

Andy Palacio was the first Caribbean and Central American artist designated by UNESCO as an artist for peace. Only fourteen persons from around the world have been bestowed with the title. He was the winner of the 2007 prestigious WOMEX Award for his album Watina. This album was also voted #1 world music album of 2007 by the Europe’s World Music Charts & WOMEX (world music expo).

What an impressive resume as a Belizean artist and still we are reluctant to tell this story. Andy Palacio has set the bar for all Belizean artists to aspire to and emulate. His music was original, authentic and 100% Belizean, and at the end it was also world class.

Respectfully submitted,
Joseph Alvarez

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