BELIZE CITY, Thurs. Mar. 23, 2017–Berne Velasquez is a special Belizean, who carries his artistic flame with a rarely found determination. Most Belizeans would be ashamed of being deported for attempting to enter the United States illegally and they would be silent about such an episode in their life. Not Berne Velasquez. He announced it to the world, turned it into art and created an album that he aptly titled Life After Deportation, released in 2008, when Berne stormed on Belize’s music scene.
Between the release of that first album and now, Berne has moved worlds. He has landed minor and major roles in four international movies, filmed in Belize. Music, however, remains Berne’s passion and he has released a steady stream of works since his first album that propelled him into the consciousness of Belizean music lovers. As a man who has single-handedly sold over 200,000 of his own CDs, this puts him in a league all by himself.
Last Thursday, March 16, Berne walked into the Kremandala compound, fresh from his travels in cities in Mexico, and in Central and South America. He carried dozens of 16-gigabyte flash drives on which were his latest work, a video documentary he named Broken Dreams.
Based on his description of what occurred during his travels, one would come to the conclusion that Berne is fluent in the Spanish language, because all the places that he mentioned he has visited and worked in their streets are Spanish-speaking. So why does he do it?
“We need something to inspire us, someone to look up to. I feel like Broken Dreams is that tool. Everyone should have Broken Dreams,” Berne said.
Because of our very limited opportunities, we have to create our own opportunities, Berne explained.
He went on to detail the many projects that he has successfully undertaken since Life After Deportation, his signature release from which everything else flowed.
“After Life After Deportation, I did The Evolution, and both of those projects come with CDs and DVDs, so those can be looked at as four projects,’ Berne said.
“After the Evolution, I did Celebration Time, I did Change the Game, after that I did Destination Belize at the Museum of Culture. Then I did Delle and Delle Reloaded which is a remix of the original,” he said.
Berne said that he has been back in Belize for 9 years, “and during that nine years, I did ten projects.”
How did Broken Dreams come about, Amandala asked Berne.
“First off with Broken Dreams, it actually happened,” Berne responded. “It wasn’t planned. I did not set out to go do a project. As the events in Broken Dreams were happening, I said, I have to document this. So Broken Dreams is a documentary-style movie. There is no acting in this. This is real. This is raw, good professional footage of what is happening as it is happening.”
Berne explained that in Broken Dreams, you might see a performance in which he is performing in front of 80,000 people.
“When I am in the streets selling my CDs and there are 500 or 600 people in front of me. That sounds amazing to me, let me say that. To me I had to capture that, so I might just ask somebody to capture that for me, because remember I am out here selling my CDs,” he said.
“I might be selling my CDs in the streets, in different countries and the police come and arrest me — I want to capture that on film,” Berne explained.
He went on to describe one incident in Mexico City: “I was selling my CDs and there is so much crowds around me, that the police think I am creating danger, I am a threat. They can’t control this crowd with two officers. So I am responsible for that, and they need to take me away for that. So I was hauled away in the back of a police truck”, Berne described. “So I need to capture that.”
“These are actually things that happened, so you will see these things in the film,” Berne said.
“Broken Dreams’ message is that if we want something we got to get it. So we got to change the world around us”, Berne said. “I invested in LADFAR, which means Life After Deportation Film and Records, which is my own production company.”