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Nov 17, 2021

Dia de la Raza Out: Indigenous People’s Resistance Day In

Kareem Musa

First it was Columbus Day – which last year was removed from the 2021 calendar of public and bank holidays. Then two weeks ago, the list of holidays for 2022 had Commonwealth Day missing and the October twelfth holiday returned, but under a different name – Dia de la Raza. The decision was met with mixed reviews. While Belizeans welcomed the return of the October holiday, they didn’t know what the day meant. Or they felt it was an appropriation of a holiday from Spain that many feel glorifies colonial conquest. Today, a new and, we are told, final publication from the government acknowledges the day has been renamed once more as Indigenous People’s Resistance Day. The minister responsible for holidays, Kareem Musa, spoke about how that change came about.


Kareem Musa, Minister of Home Affairs

“That committee had met and made certain decisions as it relates to the holidays for next year and it went to Cabinet for approval. Unfortunately, at that Cabinet meeting, I was out of the country and Cabinet had made a decision to have October twelfth as a holiday. Now in terms of the actual name for the day, that was not decided at Cabinet. We only revisited that matter yesterday, but apparently it was two weeks ago when the Government Press Office had published the list and as I understand it, it was because there was pressure coming from the printers that they needed to have an idea of what the holidays were going to be. So in that first list it was erroneously placed as Dia de la Raza because like I mentioned no decision was made for the name itself. October twelfth for many countries goes under different names and of course has different meanings as you have rightly seen over the last two weeks. I know that there has been a lot of lash back because of that first publication and yesterday, I am thankful that when I was present, we were able to discuss the matter and all of Cabinet unanimously agreed that the proper name for October twelfth should be Indigenous People Resistance Day to acknowledge and recognise the survival, the struggle and the resistance of indigenous people in Belize.”

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