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May 12, 2016

Life in Belize for Guatemalan professionals

Protests by indigenous people in Guatemala City on Wednesday paralyzed a major part of the City after main thoroughfares were blocked. The indigenous people are demanding access to basic necessities which deprive them of a decent way of life. But while President Jimmy Morales is facing deep discontent, the military continues to taunt the B.D.F. and Belizeans within our own territorial waters. The situation in the Sarstoon is seen in many quarters as a distraction to the real problems Morales is facing. On Wednesday, we aired a story on how Guatemalan children have for years being benefitting from our education system. In Part Two tonight we get a perspective from professionals who have made Belize their home. Isani Cayetano reports.


Isani Cayetano, Reporting

Orthodontist Dr. Carlos Medina is part of a perpetual stream of Guatemalans who have been and continue to educate themselves in Belize.  A dual understanding of our history, as well as the record of events in his home country, gives him quite a unique perspective on the standing dispute between the adjoining Central American nations.  From Medina’s point of view, recent flare up of tensions at the border points may very well be a red herring to divert attention from what is taking place politically in either of the two countries.


Dr. Carlos Medina, Guatemalan Dentist

“Sometimes I ask myself if the problem is really, really that deep or if the political structures just try to manipulate our minds so that they can have a free chance of solving their issues that they’re not able to solve up to this point and I’m talking about both countries.  Guatemala has a lot of issues before this thing that is going on and maybe it’s just a way of distracting us.”


Carlos Medina

At present, Guatemala has been brought to a screeching halt, as the government of Jimmy Morales has come under fire from campesinos, or farmers, who insist that electricity be nationalized.  Among other demands is the need to bring to an end the funding of big agribusinesses.  Farmers are equally requesting that fifteen percent of arable land be set aside for basic food production.  Those issues, coupled with a demand for constitutional changes, particularly where it concerns the persecution of human rights leaders are,  presumably, more urgent.


Dr. Carlos Medina

“On the Belizean side, I suspect they might have a lot of things going on too that they just want the people to be distracted by this thing.”


Local coverage of recent hostilities between Belize and Guatemala has been pretty extensive and the issue is a mainstay in the daily newscast.  With government working fervently to arrive at a mutually agreeable set of guidelines to manage access to the Sarstoon, the world is taking notice.  That keen attention, however, should begin inside the classroom.


Luke Palacio

Luke Palacio, President, B.N.T.U.

“As we continue with this Stand Up for Belize Campaign, there is the need for Belizean history, Belizean civics, Belizean geography to be taught in our classroom objectively.”


That directive is being followed up on at Mount Carmel Primary School in Benque Viejo where the history of Belize, as well as the territorial dispute with Guatemala, forms part of the syllabus.


Melvin Manzanero

Melvin Manzanero, Principal, Mount Carmel Primary School

“We go ahead with the curriculum.  The curriculum dictates or tells us that our geographical location, you know the entire country.  We teach them that, you know, the students know about it.  We inform them about our entire geographic location, the entire districts and everything.  So we go ahead with that.  We tell them that there’s also, one, for example, the teachers, we would go ahead and teach to the students, we would tell them, you know, that Belize is in a way, in the relationship they have with Guatemala, the difference that there is because we cannot hide it, I mean it’s something that we need to teach them about it and that’s what we do.”


And it’s that holistic approach to education that has helped Dr. Medina in formulating a position against the constant antagonism.


Dr. Carlos Medina

“I was thinking about the people I have common ideas with, a lot of people from Belize and, of course, a lot of people from Guatemala.  I was considering the idea of gathering a group in between the two borders and just manifest against hatred, against prejudice, against all sort of bad ideas wouldn’t create anything good but instead are making things just worst.  Being the other face of the tension, instead of promoting war or fight among the two countries, creating like a brotherhood.”


The question of a resolution at the ICJ, when posed to one Guatemalan parent who was also educated in Belize, was met with visible apprehension.


Yanira Garrido

Isani Cayetano

“Do you believe that this dispute between the two countries should be settled by the two countries here on the ground or should it go to the International Court of Justice for a final resolution on whether or not Belize belongs to Guatemala or Belize is an independent, sovereign nation?”


Yanira Garrido, Guatemalan Parent

“I don’t want to make any opinion about that, I have to discuss that in… I don’t know what to say.”


Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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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3 Responses for “Life in Belize for Guatemalan professionals”

  1. Ali BaBarrow, Prime Thief says:

    That won’t happen here.

    I will arrest them and drag them back to court a hundred times to show them who is calling the shots.

    I am GOB & GOD.

  2. concerned says:

    This heading is misleading. This report had nothing to do with life in Belize for Guatemalan professionals.

  3. Teacher says:

    Agree with “instead of promoting war or fight among the two countries, creating like a brotherhood.” A true professional speaking!

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