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Sep 16, 2014

FirstCaribbean’s Dangriga Branch Manager Reassigned

Sandra Miranda

Former employee of CIBC First Caribbean International Bank, Uwahnie Martinez broke the silence surrounding her plight at the Dangriga branch last Tuesday, following her resignation from the institution.  According to Martinez, she had been reprimanded by the branch manager for speaking Garifuna in the workplace, particularly with customers doing business.  Undoubtedly, it created a firestorm of protest from residents of Dangriga and quickly became a public relations nightmare for the bank.  While the matter has subsequently seen cooler heads prevail, following a meeting between FCIB’s senior executive Ella Hoyos and CWU president Audrey Matura-Shepherd, there are still a few unresolved issues to report.  News Five understands that branch manager Roxan Bowen has been assigned to another project.  This was confirmed earlier today with FCIB’s Country Manager Glen Smith, who told us that Arlette Trapp has been appointed to hold over in the interim.  During an appearance on Open Your Eyes this morning, Sandra Miranda, Vice President of the National Garifuna Council, as well as Dangriga Mayor Gilbert Swaso, commented on the matter.


Sandra Miranda, Vice President, National Garifuna Council

“Why?  Why in Dangriga?  Dangriga is the culture capital, it is predominantly Garifuna and this is a Caribbean bank.  The Garifuna history is all over the Caribbean and I know that they are aware.  So why?”


Gilbert Swaso, Dangriga Mayor

Gilbert Swaso

“This issue is not only a Garifuna issue but rather a national issue and that is also, in our humble opinion, is also embraced because when we demonstrated about this issue it was not only the Garinagu that were present.  Several other ethnic groups were in solidarity with us because if you start to attack and assault one ethnic group then you are demonstrating that if there isn’t any fight about it then you are saying it’s okay, we have now taken over, right, and win that battle over the Garinagu.  So now we can start on the Creole, then the Maya.  So I believe we have to defend and stop the nonsense immediately.”


Sandra Miranda

“If this is our culture, the basic essence of your culture is the language.  There is no restriction that you cannot speak English, Spanish and your native language, whether it be Garifuna, Creole [or] Maya.  That’s within you, that’s how you grew up right, and that’s your first language.  Growing up the first thing you will hear is Garifuna.”

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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2 Responses for “FirstCaribbean’s Dangriga Branch Manager Reassigned”

  1. Timber says:

    Kudos for the Garifuna community. She should have been fired. Yes, Belize is an English speaking country but we also have a great variety of different languages and ethnic groups which makes our country unique. If a customer comes in and his/her only means of effective communication is a different language, then so be it. I bet if it were a customer with a hefty savings in the bank, this wouldn’t have been an issue. From a child, the Garifuna (Carib, Garinagu) have been the fiercest and most resilient race in our country and from history, in the Caribbean . I’ve seen other cultures such as the Mayas, Kechi, Mestizo decimated in Belize, not only from lack of national attention but also from lack of support from both governments. For too many years we’ve discriminated against the Garifuna and these people have turned that into a positive. It’s time this stops. It’s just like in the US where, in this time and age, our young men and women are still being discriminated against because of our colour and misperception. Even myself, with all my education, had to use a white man who barely made it out of high school to get what I needed done. He works for me but he got me in the door just due to the colour of his skin. Yes I used reverse discrimination. Even though I’m not one, I’ve grown with and come to befriend many of the Garifuna race. I just read a few minutes ago about the scholarships given to the UK. I recognized the title of one of the students, Guzman, and I saw her face and know that’s the child of Horace and Bridget (Enriquez) Guzman. I applaud them for their hard work . The people from the Garifuna culture have become teachers, doctors, chemists. lawyers. We stay right in the immediate Guzman family, look at how educated Bridget’s brothers and sisters are, Hubert, Kingsley, Kevin, Contantine. She has sisters who are teachers. Look at the Saldano twins who are now in the US. Even though you may not like him as FBB president, look at Bertie Chimilio’s family and their success; Dr. Palacio from UB. My point, while we are discriminating against these people, they have kept their core family values and worked hard, while our young Creole men and women kill and envy each other and we are gradually losing ground in society. I stress this on my own child, because even though he will be discriminated against in the US , I always tell him that they can’t take away his education and his dignity. He will have to learn the hard way though because I’m too strict. It doesn’t help that I made the mistake of choosing the wrong person to be his mother; one who wasn’t thought anything, never wanted to achieve anything and has passed that unto her child. I digress.

  2. CEO says:

    Good job Mr. Swaso!

    I too say that this is an embarrassment to Belize and all Belizean. I am not Garinagu but I am Belizean!

    3 Different Mayan languages, Garifuna, Creole, Chinese, are spoken in Belize along with a host of more recent dialects and languages. Our country’s ethnicity is vast and needs to stay that way and ignorance like trying to silence a part of our country needs to go!

    Everyone feels more welcome when they can be attended to at a place of business in their first language. If that bank had any sense they would encourage this.

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