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Nov 25, 2011

Hundreds of Belizeans and Guatemalans Storm Border for fun

For the past six months Belizean and Guatemalan students have been working side by side, learning art and music in a cultural exchange program. The initiative to bring together youths from both sides of the border who share common interests, is a part of the Confidence Building Measures implemented by the Organization of American States (OAS). Today, the official closing ceremony was held at the adjacency zone where an art exhibit and cultural display showcased the work of the participants. News Five’s Delahnie Bain headed to the border for this morning’s event.

Delahnie Bain, Reporting

Belize and Guatemala are divided over a longstanding territorial dispute, but today the two countries came together to “Promote a Culture of Peace”. That was the goal of the art and culture course that culminated at the OAS Adjacency Zone.

Magdalena Talamas

Magdalena Talamas, Chief of Peace Fund, Secretariat for Political Affairs, OAS

“This is the closure of the culture of peace program in the agency zone. It’s a program that started six months ago and that consists of music, art workshops where approximately three hundred students have participated and today they are showing us the results of what they have accomplished, which goes far beyond having learned or perfected an artistic skill. They have shown us what it truly means to be a good neighbor and we’re very proud of the students and what they’ve done here today.”

The participants put on a grand display, showing off the new talents they developed in the program.

Magdalena Talamas

“We have both art workshops; we have their paintings that are displayed today. We also have the bands and the students playing the instruments that they have learned, guitar and piano and song.”

{Highlights of music and art…}

Magdalena Talamas of the OAS says the program is one of the most successful in their many efforts to keep the peace along the Belize/Guatemala border.

Magdalena Talamas

“The project is open to all the communities in the adjacency zone and we were expecting a registration of approximately a hundred and fifty but it was so successful that we had three hundred students register and we made our best efforts to accommodate them and we’re very happy that we were able to do so. I think it’s one of the most successful projects because these students are representing, they’re showing us that it’s much more than hope for the future. They are showing us that that dream is actually a reality; sitting side by side, persons and young people from two different countries speaking two different languages have planted the seed of peace in the adjacency zone and I’m extremely proud to be a part of this program.”

Unfortunately, because of financial reasons, there is no guarantee that the program will be an annual feature.

Magdalena Talamas

“We didn’t have it last year, unfortunately. We had it in 2009 and we depend on external funding. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the governments of Canada and of Spain who have made generous contributions to the Belize/Guatemala sub-fund of the Peace Fund and who have made this project possible and we hope to be able to count on their support on the future so we can continue this very important project.”

Delahnie Bain for News Five.

The six months of classes were provided free of cost of the students.

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