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Apr 20, 2016

Cultural Showcase at Western Border Features Garifuna Drums and Marimba Music

One of the highlights of the visit of the O.A.S. Secretary General was a visit to the Adjacency Zone. There he witnessed a program dedicated to the culture of Belize. Belizean children were joined by students from neighboring Melchor de Mencos, the Guatemalan side of Arenal and Santa Cruz for renditions promoting peace. Secretary General Luis Almagro says that the message of peace belongs to the people. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.

 

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

A low register of notes as the marimba is played by an orchestra of young musicians, resonates across an audience of Belizean and Guatemalan onlookers in a parking lot next to the western border.  The short musical piece is part of a cultural presentation that has been put together by the O.A.S. Peace Fund.  Seated in the front row is Secretary General Luis Almagro.  It’s his first visit to Belize since taking over as chief executive officer in 2015 and he is entranced by what is happening onstage.

 

Luis Almagro

Luis Almagro, Secretary General, O.A.S.

“I can tell you because it is very touching and it has gone deep into my feelings.  It’s something so powerful, you know.  It’s so nice, so humble, so powerful, like their paintings, like their music.  The proximity, the warmth of the people that we have felt today.  It’s also a very important message that peace belongs to the people and they should never, never, never allow any politician, any diplomat or any editorialist to steal peace from them.  It belongs to the people, it should remain with the people and should be strong with the people.  So what we have seen today is so powerful and it’s one of the works on the ground that the organization does that really means something.  It means a lot about what we can achieve together and what people from the Caribbean, Central America and Latin America and North American people can do together.”

 

Promoting a Culture of Peace is an ongoing program that is being carried out by the Mission of the Office of the General Secretariat of the O.A.S. in the Adjacency Zone, Belize – Guatemala.

 

Magdalena Talamas

Magdalena Talamas, O.A.S. Representative

“The Culture of Peace Program was launched in 2009 to bring students from both sides of the adjacency line under one roof to partake in different workshops.  But more than trying to develop talent or promote vocational skills is actually to promote universal values of tolerance and brotherhood and good neighborliness.  And this specific program today was organized to honor the Secretary General of the Organization of American States who is the first and only secretary general to have visited the Adjacency Zone.  So this is a very special occasion for us and that’s why we organized this program.”

 

Since its advent six years ago, hundreds of children from Benque Viejo and neighboring Melchor de Mencos have benefited from the initiative by attending workshops in artistic painting, theater and music.

 

Magdalena Talamas

“Our goal initially was to reach out to a few dozen students on both sides.  But on the very first day that we launched this program we had more than three hundred enrollers and today we are proud to boast that more than two thousand children of Belize and Guatemala are benefiting from this program.  Initially it was limited to the towns of Melchor de Mencos, Guatemala and Benque Viejo, Belize and now I am happy to report that we have also extended it to Arenal, Belize and Jalacte, Belize.  The music and art workshops were also our first workshops to be offered but now we are offering training in other disciplines such as carpentry and handicraft and even more sophisticated capacity building such as electrician training and we hope that soon we will be able to offer opportunities, training opportunities in disciplines such as mechanics and gardening and gastronomy.”

 

While the program has made great strides the O.A.S. Office at the Adjacency Zone is facing the real possibility of closing its doors because of a lack of funding.

 

Isani Cayetano

“How does this all work, this program, work in the context of the Adjacency Zone’s facing closing down in the very near future?”

 

Magdalena Talamas

“Well it’s very simple, you see how valuable this project is.  You see how the impact that it has had and if we close the office this project will be gone, here in Benque, in Arenal, in Jalacte.  This project and the many other projects that we’ve advanced so we’re working hard to get the funding and we are confident that the international community will come through and we will continue to support any initiative that is directed at ensuring that that happens.”

 

Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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1 Response for “Cultural Showcase at Western Border Features Garifuna Drums and Marimba Music”

  1. Teddy Steinway says:

    A show of good faith for the ICJ promise would be for Belize to enact a law next week to lower a majority rule in the referendum.

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