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Jul 28, 2022

Belize Recognizes Emancipation Day 2022

Ahead of Emancipation Day 2022, the National Institute of Culture and History re- launched its Documentary Heritage of Slavery and Emancipation in Belize. The website gives visitors an insight into the harsh realities enslaved African persons in Belize were subjected to based on historical records. One of the earliest records of slavery in Belize is a 1730 Guatemala Gazette which reports a Spanish attack up the New River, where English men, women and slaves were captured. Other documents reveal that enslaved Africans were bought and sold as property of their enslavers. Those who did not have last names were given the names of their enslavers. Some examples of those names, according to records, include Bennett, Anderson, Douglas, Ellis, and Smith to name a few. The pattern of using enslaved Africans as a source of labor continued until 1883, when slavery was abolished in Belize.


Rolando Cocom

Rolando Cocom, Senior Research & Education Officer, I.S.C.R. NICH

“This exhibition contains such rich records that can help us to understand our past, records that will make us uneasy at times because of the brutality that was carried out against Belize’s African ancestors. And, records that leaves us with bits and pieces of the past, because it is not every record here and at the archives that tells the full story. There is always a need to go back to find additional records. In some cases there are just gaps in our understanding that can be filled by looking at other sources and archives.”


Kevin Monte

Kevin Monte, Belize Archives and Records Service,

“I am hoping that with events like today, through the partnership with NICH, that the general public will see importance of the archives, will be able to know what it is that we have at our disposal, the original, unique, archival records that exist in our country where people can see firsthand the actual records of our nation, as opposed to just reading them through history book. You can actually visit the national archives and get a firsthand account of these records.”


Vincent Palacio

Dr. Vincent Palacio, President, University of Belize

“Even before U.B., I could speak from personal experience. I use to like history in high school. I thought that maybe I would be an attorney later on. But, as a history student, we were limited to Arawaks, Africans. That was the gamut that we covered. Then, there was a missing period, a missing era, the pre-emancipation, the slavery, then, going beyond emancipation, limited information. So, all through high school, a lot of the information I know now post emancipation was not covered. So, I am very grateful to the archives for opening up the door to this information.”

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