Harnessing a country’s collective identity can contribute to domestic and international prestige. This can instill patriotism and nationalistic sentiments. Belize, with its original inhabitants and immigrant population, needs to forge common ground to ensure its survival in the new global environment.
Writing on “Social Conflicts and Collective Identities”, authors, Patrick G. Coy and Lynne M. Woehrle, state: “How important it is for groups in a social conflict to maintain a strong collective identity throughout the conflict process”. This is especially important in territorial disputes and international conflicts. By allowing the translating of the name “Belize,” the country has been supporting a dual identity, one legal and the other illegal, when it should be supporting one single identity.
Passing legislation to reaffirm the name “Belize” or the passing of a proclamation prohibiting the translation of the country’s name would strengthen the name and the country’s identity. This way, only the name Belize would be used in official and diplomatic circles at home and abroad, including at the OAS, leading to a final resolution of the name conflict.
A quick check at the Belize Archives & Records Service will show that the name of Belize was established by the “Belize Ordinance, 19733 . This was done by way of a proclamation by Acting Governor R.N. Posnett, dated 31st of May, 1973. The Ordinance states that, “On and after the first day of June, 1973 the name of the territory which immediately before the said first day of June constitutes the colony of British Honduras shall be BELIZE” – not Belice!
The Constitution of Belize dealt with the definition of Belize under one single name, Belize, and Chapter I, 1. (1) “The State and the Constitution” clearly established Belize as a democratic and sovereign State within the Central American and Caribbean region.
Chapter I, 1. (2) further states that “Belize comprises the land and sea areas defined in Schedule I of this Constitution, which immediately before Independence Day constituted the colony of Belize.”
Neither of the two documents mentioned above provides for the translation of the name Belize to any other name. And, even though some countries allow for their name translation, Belize should insist on a stop to this practice, especially in light of the unfounded territorial claim by Guatemala.
The use of the country’s proper name would strengthen the nation’s identity by eliminating the dual identity which has been attributed to the unfounded claim itself.
Ewart Robateau, MSCM