BELIZE CITY, Thurs. Sept. 12, 2019– The story of the emerging country of Belize has its origin in the 1798 Battle of St. George’s Caye, between the Spaniards and the British settlers and their slaves.
On Tuesday, Belizeans celebrated the 221st anniversary of the Battle of St. George’s Caye with the traditional ceremony at the Memorial Park under this year’s theme: “From Mayan grandeur to modern glory, together let’s shape the Belizean story.”
The ceremony was attended by a number of dignitaries, among them the mayor of Belize City, Mayor Bernard Wagner; the Prime Minister of Belize, Rt. Hon. Dean Oliver Barrow; the Governor General, Sir Colville Young, who also inspected a Belize Defence Force Guard of Honor; the Chief Justice of Belize, Hon. Kenneth Benjamin and Mrs. Benjamin. There were also a number of diplomatic representatives.
One of the highlights of the morning’s ceremony was the crowning of the incoming Queen of the Bay, Kimberly Santos, who was crowned by the outgoing Queen of the Bay, Jenny Lee Cruz. Singer Radiance Thompson serenaded the queens with the popular song, “Queen of the Bay”.
The gathering was addressed by the mayor of Belize City, Bernard Wagner, first, and then by Hon. Patrick Faber, the deputy prime minister and chairman of the National Celebrations Committee.
“Though I did not stand on that battlefield those two hundred and twenty one years ago, I feel that the Baymen fought for a different cause. They were fighting for the things we still fight for today….
“…When I look around today I still see hopelessness, frustration, and fear. I see violence. But there are no Spanish invaders on the horizon, so we point our arms at one another. I still see people toiling for meager wages and an outcry for change over two centuries later. Institutions such as family, and patriotism and faith have been obscured by status and notoriety,” Mayor Wagner said.
Hon. Faber told the gathering: “Ladies and gentlemen, today we are celebrating and commemorating the two hundred and twenty-first anniversary of the Battle of St. George’s Caye. It is an event that is well-documented in the annals of our history, but what is most significant about this event is not only that it happened but that it is a reminder of just how vulnerable our society is in the context of that event on September 10th, 1798. If the settlers of Belize did not successfully defend Belize, or had decided on June 1st, 1797 when a vote was taken on whether to stay and defend Belize or to evacuate…If the settlers had not voted to stay and defend their home then it is very likely that we as the inheritors of Belize would not be here today. That fateful event began with two years of preparation for the defense of Belize and then ended with the successful victory over the attacking Spanish fleet and the eventual security of Belize for future generations.”
Faber went on to say that he will be giving instructions to the technocrats of the National Institute of History and Culture to look into celebrating Emancipation Day, although he cautions that this will not be another holiday.
Following the departure of the dignitaries, citizens lined up for the annual 10th Day parade through the principal streets of Belize City, from the Memorial Park to Yarborough Green in the vicinity of Wesley College.