Letters — 04 March 2011 — by Stewart Krohn
March 2, 2011
It is distressing to see such a high profile person as Audrey Matura writing in such an authoritative newspaper as Amandala perpetuating the same commonly held falsehoods about Belize’s Mennonites.
I refer to her article in the February 27th issue entitled “Mennonites & Mayans”.
Without commenting on her points regarding oil exploration, land rights, protected areas and Belizean history I must challenge her false assertions that the Mennonites pay no taxes and were given land by the government.
The fact is that when the Mennonites came here in 1958 they asked the government of Premier George Price for only two things: freedom from military service and the right to educate their children in their own traditional way.
Every acre of land they subsequently settled on was bought and paid for. They receive no tax exemptions and pay more than their fair share of income tax, social security, GST, land tax and business tax.
To go a step further, it is worth examining some of the other commonly held myths about Mennonites, including the flattering ones that they are honest, hard working and abhor violence.
While these attributes are very common in the various Mennonite communities I can say that in close to 40 years of reporting on and doing business with Mennonites all over the country I have found a small minority who are as lazy, “liard and teef” as any Creole or Mestizo.
As for violence, the only time anyone has ever threatened me with a firearm was in 1982 when I accidentally walked into a major drug transaction on the banks of the New River in Shipyard. Trust me, when that blue-eyed dude in overalls and cowboy boots leveled his twelve gauge between my eyes, I was as afraid as any Chinese grocer who stared at the business end of a gang boy’s Glock.
Audrey, it’s 2011. Forget the stereotypes and myths. And by the way: as for the Mennonites electing “one of their own” into government, I must agree with you. They did. They elected a good Belizean.