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Sep 9, 2014

Uwahnie Martinez Speaks Out

Uwahnie Martinez

The plight of Uwahnie Martinez, a former employee of CIBC FirstCaribbean’s Dangriga Branch, concluded this morning with the bank formally accepting her resignation.  This succeeds a meeting with firstCaribbean’s regional executive who flew in from Barbados to sit down with the Christian Workers Union.  The union represents Martinez who claims that she had been reprimanded by her superior at the local branch for speaking Garifuna with customers doing business at the establishment.  Following the meeting, News Five spoke with Martinez for the first time since the matter became public two weeks ago.


Uwahnie Martinez, Former Employee, CIBC FirstCaribbean Bank

“I must say categorically that I am a proud Garifuna and that’s what I’ll be, it doesn’t matter where I’m at.  In regards to what happened in the branch, I want to categorically say that it did occur and it occurred on the backdrop of me speaking to a customer one-on-one on the queue.  The manager watching me while doing so and immediately after calling me in her office and this is what she said, “I have contacted head office they’re in agreement, so is the management here in Belize, that English is the only language to be spoken in branch.”  So that’s the basis on which I believe that she categorically told me not to speak my language because that was the language I was speaking prior to her calling me and it was a personal conversation with a customer standing on the line.  I have decided to tender my resignation in protest and really get out of an institution that doesn’t appreciate me and the business of my people, primarily Dangriga being a Garifuna town.”

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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7 Responses for “Uwahnie Martinez Speaks Out”

  1. blzgomez says:

    Uwahnie – I am proud of your strength in character and of your decision to stand up to what you believe is right. It would be interesting to learn if any of the CIBC branches have people that speak to spanish speaking customers in spanish, or to Chinese speaking customers in Chinese or if those customers are required instead to learn English before they can do business with CIBC. Stand your ground and hold your head high on the steps you have taken. To many it will mean nothing, but to you and the Garifuna people it is an action they should stand behind at all costs.

  2. Mark Hall says:

    We should cease unfulfilling talks and move to action. Belizeans, especially those living in Dangriga, should withdraw their funds from First Caribbean Bank and refuse to do any further business with them.

  3. Elvis says:

    We support You Uwahnie, You did the right thing. We are proud Belizeans who are proud of all our ethnicity, and Belize is a free country, free to practice our cultural freedom etc.

  4. Steve Douglas says:

    This sucks. i have lived here since 2000 and employees speak English, Spanish, Creole, & Garifuna depending on the individual customers’ preferance…there just has to be more to this story.

  5. CEO says:

    You should not have quit your job for this ignorant comment.

    All Belizeans (except for those that thinks creole sounds bad) we all do not speak English.

    All people of Belize should quit doing business with this bank. An insult to any Belizean should be understood to be an insult to all Belizeans!

  6. Teddy Steinway says:

    Looks like a win win for all involved. The bank is vindicated and continues to serve all Belizeans with courtesy and world class standards. The ex- employee gets to walk away from a 14 year job with her head held high. It appears that this controversy was precipitated by workplace difficulties. I think that the Garifuna will understand that CIBC is their bank.

  7. Q says:

    Anyone who considers this a win win situation is certainly demented in their mind. Any shred of respect I had for that institution was debited from their ledgers and credit to uwahnie’s bold movement in little Dangriga. She steps away gracefully with the pride of the community balanced on her head, and with the support of all Dangrigans. I say to all, a great personal scarifice has been made and all Belizeans should demonstrate their support and gratitude by making her small business, Palmento Grove Lodge, their first choice for accommodations when visiting Hopkins Village. We must do our own little part by rallying behind those who stand boldly for us.

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