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Apr 21, 2017

Why Alex Sanker wants his Miss Universe painting back from Rebecca Rath

The fury over photojournalist Tony Rath’s blog continues to burn like wildfire online, where responses to the five-part article are being posted to Facebook in the wake of the lengthy tell-all.  Rath has chosen to document his daughter Rebecca’s journey as a local contestant in the Miss Belize pageant to the world stage at Miss Universe in Manila, Philippines, back in late January. Rebecca didn’t make it among the finalists but the country rallied behind her. Along the way, however, the acclaimed photographer has stepped on a number of toes, including those of country director Opal Enriquez and Belizean artist Alex Sanker. Sanker was commissioned by the National Institute of Culture and Heritage, NICH, to paint a piece that would be offered as Belize’s gift to Miss Universe. That painting was completed and handed over to Rebecca Rath prior to her departure to Southeast Asia. Somewhere along the way, the artwork was lost, misplaced or discarded, in favor of a seascape by renowned Garifuna artist Pen Cayetano. The revelation of the painting’s disappearance has raised the ire of Sanker who today responded to Rath’s exposé.


Alex Sanker, Belizean Artist

Alex Sanker

“When the incident happened I got the message through a text from Corozal which I did not appreciate.  If you lost that painting or misplaced it two weeks and a half or two weeks, I mean give me a lee text.  Social media is out there, my Facebook page is open and your dad is on my page et cetera.  Just, “Mr. Sanker, you know what, I misplaced the painting, I lost it.”  We’re human and I’m a reasonable person.  I noh wahn people feel like… I noh need this type of publicity.  My painting sells for itself and like I always tell people if I noh di do this painting fi di rest ah mi life and noh mek wahn dolla ah wahn still do it because this da mi love.  But what I’m saying at the end of the day, weh gaan on wid dis painting?  I neva wahn seh nothing but of course her dad did this whole five chapter stuff and the last part includes my painting, okay.  And that’s when he accidentally revealed exactly what happened to my painting and when I start do all my research and stuff, fi me personally, I don’t care who think what, they intentionally didn’t want to take that painting to represent as the national gift.  Let me make something clear, when they called me and told me, “Alex, we know you’re good on concepts.”  That’s no news, Belize small and people know bout mi work, okay.  “We want you to put a concept together.”  Right on the phone, I told the individual, I’m not going to call any names, “You know what, I have a concept already.”  She told me, “Mein, like God really bless you.”  And that’s the same concept that I used, that Rebecca was going to offer the world what Belize has to offer through our symbols and stuff like that.  The national gift for somebody representing as the ambassador of this country, I went to Suriname and I know the value.  For them to disregard this painting is a disgrace and it’s a disrespect to not only me but to the country of Belize.”

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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