Dear Editor Amandala,
An associate of mine, Hubert Pipersburgh, recently presented me with an autographed copy of former Minister of government, the Hon. Fred Hunter’s book (The History of the Sovereignty of Belize by Occupation Force of Arms Treaties).
First I want to publicly acknowledge and thank Fred Hunter for the work, effort, time and diligence he invested in writing and compiling this latest contribution to Belize’s limited literary collection.
The author primarily focuses on a narrative that supports the view that over a sequence of various wars and conflicts spanning several centuries, the early settlers of what would become Belize won sovereignty by occupation, force of arms, and treaties.
He cites several battles, among them the ambush at Yalbac in 1794 where it was reported that the settlers ambushed and defeated a Spanish invasion of 500 men led by a Col. Manuel Garcia, and of course the culminating Battle of St. George’s Caye on September 10th, 1798. It is important to note that in the various battles the author cited leading up to the St George’s Caye battle, there were many casualties, property damage, and prisoners of war that were inflicted upon the early settlers by their perennial enemy, the Spanish.
I believe this is critical information, since some have questioned the authenticity of the Battle of St. George’s Caye because there were no reported casualties on ether side. But Fred Hunter went into some depth describing the military strategy applied by the settlers and how keen knowledge of the many waterways, channels, reefs, mangroves and cayes aided the settlers and even gave them an advantage against the Spanish, despite the settlers’ being outnumbered.
Other aspects of the book that I found important and informative highlighted various treaties between two European colonial brothers, Britain and Spain, regarding the settlement of Belize and the activities of the settlers.
The author further argues that what became Belize was a part of the Yucatan and downplayed any role of Guatemala regarding its future unfounded claim to Belize. In essence the book dispels any historical notion that Guatemala has a legitimate claim to present day Belize.
I found fascinating the inclusion of the history of the surveyors’ expedition to demarcate our national borders in 1933 refreshing in light of the attempts by some to force Belizeans to submit our national borders for adjudication at the ICJ. Fred Hunter not only rejects this but obliterates any suggestion that our current national borders and frontiers are questionable.
Again, I thank you for this timely and critical book and look forward to your history of Belize project next year.