I was extremely impressed by Roy Cayetano’s history lesson on Garifuna heritage last year at a meeting to reclaim Garifuna land. Proud to be a part of their culture. Living in Hopkins, I can see that the culture is still strong, but soon it will be taken over by foreigners. They call that progress.
When I learned that Belizean Dreams was building over the graveyard, I did my best as a concerned citizen to get all involved in the effort to prevent the loss of our graveyard. Having enough room to bury our dead is of major importance to our people, for burial customs are laced and woven tightly with their cultural beliefs in the ancestors. Nothing stopped the builders. They had permission from the village council, a travesty! 72 units later, they built a resort over the graves of our Garifuna people. The ancestors were not happy. They had so few guests. Was that karma, or the work of our ancestors? That we pray to, by building our temples having Chugu and Dugu bathing the dead, feeding our dead, our memorial services, as we dance to the drums all night and day for a week or a month. Sacrifices are given, blessed and shared. Our dead ancestors are our culture, which we respect and practice. It is now Hopkins Bay’s 72 units for tourists. Finally, locals are employed there.
Roy Cayetano went on with the history lesson: how the Garifuna were to be slaves, were shipwrecked, starved, left for dead on islands with no vegetation, no tools to fish or build shelter, and still survived. Country to country, no one wanted them. Always the outsider. Finally, on November 19 they landed in Belize and it became their home.
I asked at this meeting about this children’s graveyard, which is very close to me. They said it never could be sold, it was a gift, and the resort owners who already bought and built 72 units, had promised to landscape it. Not to sell to more investors to build 56 units for tourists to live on this sacred land. I learned about this Texan and his investors and brought the news of his plans to build 56 units over the children’s memorial graveyard. He wanted to reclaim the lost beachfront by putting a huge amount of fill 100 feet out to give more beachfront to this dream. A nightmare to our already lost beachfront. The man was confronted and told he must have permission to build in Hopkins by our village council, not just permits. I never believed that once again the village council would sell out their people’s graveyard. Praying that it will never devastate the future of our shoreline, which was damaged already by the last huge jetty. Hopkins Bay got a permit for 10 feet by 8 feet. Not 85 feet by 10 feet. Immediate beach erosion loss of over 100 feet in some areas next to them.
Covid-19 came and all plans stopped until yesterday, when the big Cat came and started bulldozing.
The village council was there. They did not stop it. Why not? Because, I learned, they did have permission from our village council. I ASK NOW: HOW DO WE STOP THE VILLAGE COUNCIL FROM SELLING ANOTHER GRAVEYARD TO ANOTHER INVESTOR?
Please, people of our Garifuna village. The Garifuna culture must get involved. Stop this now. Let it only be landscaped as promised, so that it is easier for us to bury our dead children.
Is it time to question the village council to find out how much were they paid? Is that money going only in their pockets, or for the village’s financial needs to be kept up?
Stand up and be heard. Make a difference.
A Concerned Citizen