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Saturday, January 22, 2022
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Amandala Español

Last year Amandala had an opportunity to hire a Ph.D. educator who had experience moving between the Latin and African communities in Belize. We were not sure exactly how and where she would fit into the Kremandala communications complex, but we felt that her talent was special.
 
As the months went by, we began to look at the possibility of a Spanish edition of our newspaper, which is the leading newspaper in Belize. As things stand, there are Spanish newspapers from the western part of Guatemala and the southern part of Mexico which are sold in various parts of Belize on a daily basis.
 
Sometime last year, our competitor, THE REPORTER, beat us to the punch with a Spanish edition published in Belmopan with so little fanfare as to be unnoticed in mainstream Belize. We have no idea what the experience of THE REPORTER has been with respect to their Spanish edition, but we had our Spanish edition idea before our competitor began their experiment.
 
A Spanish edition of Amandala would enable us to communicate with Belizeans who are only literate in Spanish, and with those in a fluid immigration situation who are only Spanish literate. In addition, a Spanish Amandala would assist serious Belizean students of Spanish to learn the foreign language which is spoken in all the republics around us and in most of South America. One of the best ways to learn a foreign language is to read good writing in that language.
 
Some more discussion on the concept of Amandala Español is important. Internationally, serious education systems require students, definitely at tertiary level and desirably at the secondary level, to make themselves functional and literate in at least one foreign language. In the United States, students traditionally have taken on the study of French, because it is the most important language in Europe, besides being considered the language of diplomacy. In Belize, for obvious reasons, we have focused on learning Spanish.
 
Inside our black community, which was concentrated in Belize City and constituted the majority of the country’s population until two decades ago, there was a marked reluctance to learn Spanish. Not only was it difficult, as is the learning of foreign languages generally, but black students here not only felt there was no real need to learn Spanish, they thought the citizens who spoke Spanish represented an inferior culture.
 
Now our black students’ perception was a misconception which had to do with the unique history of this country, which is the only English speaking country on the mainland of Central America. This unique history is not something we have space to discuss today, but suffice to say that the colonial reality here began changing about fifty years ago, as hitherto marginalized Latin Belizeans began to enter the mainstream economy while black Belizeans began to migrate to the United States – the number one economy in the world. The changing Belizean demographics were complicated about thirty years ago by a United Nations High Commission for Refugees program which sponsored the immigration of Latin Central Americans into Belize who were considered as displaced by civil wars in Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Salvador.
 
Some of our black Belizeans, as Corozal Town’s Clinton Uh Luna pointed out a couple months ago, refer in a derogatory manner to anyone who looks Hispanic as “alien.” This is not only disrespectful, but many times it is inaccurate. The Mayan people of Belize are the original inhabitants of this territory we know as Belize. The Mayans look Hispanic to the untrained eye, but they are not. In the Yucatan, immediately north of us, the Mayans fought a civil war against Hispanic ladino oppression for more than 50 years – from 1847 to 1903. How do you think a Maya feels when you refer to him as an “alien,” because you have been miseducated?
 
It is important to understand the history of Kremandala. We have been educating people for 38 years. Our role is different from the role of the politicians. In some respects, our role is more difficult than that of politicians. Their role involves organizing voters by telling them what they want to hear. Kremandala’s role, on the other hand, is telling people what they need to know, not what they want to hear. In the case of Belizeans who have been miseducated by the British church-state system of education for three centuries, our people believe we know a lot of things which are not really so.
 
At Kremandala, we don’t cater to ethnic prejudice, and, initial opinions to the contrary, history has absolved us. The humanity of all Belizeans takes priority over their individual ethnicity. Through Amandala Español, we seek to communicate with some Belizeans who are not hearing from us first hand. In the short term, this is not a business venture. Down the road, if Amandala Español is good, it will grow to pay its bills. For now, however, it is about communication and education.
 
Power to the people. Poder al pueblo.
 
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