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Dec 5, 2012

Xunantunich, the concert and the Succotz residents

In the west, emotions are running high among the tour guides and vendors in Succotz Village over the planned two-week closure of Xunantunich next Wednesday. The closure by NICH coincides with the height of the Mayan calendar celebrations and the residents say they were not consulted and it will cut into their Christmas earnings. News Five’s Delahnie Bain has both sides of the story.


Delahnie Bain, Reporting

The planned closure of the Xunantunich Archaeological Site in Succotz, Cayo is causing controversy among tour guides and vendors who operate at the site. It was recently announced that the site would be closed from December twelfth to the twenty-sixth to accommodate the International Music Festival. But the tour guides and vendors say they will be losing major business, especially with the end of the Mayan Calendar on December twenty-first; a loss they cannot afford in the Christmas season.


Alberto Panti

Alberto Panti, Acting President, Cayo West Tour Guide Association

“Can you imagine, all these vendors here, each individual of us here we have kids that benefit from this. You can imagine all your kids are gonna ask for Christmas gifts, what are you going to give them? The place will be closed and there’s no other benefit from anything other than this main source here that we benefit from. December twenty-first is a time when it will be the boost of the Xunantunich archaeological site, the time when tourists will come big time. So one of the things I don’t really understand, we are going to lose big amount of jobs like I said before, we need to do something about this problem.”


Amin Aviles, Tour Guide, Xunantunich

“Moneywise, you’re looking at—on a minimum wage, if we do one tour per day which we’ve been doing from day one, you’re looking close from eighty to a hundred dollars per day; that’s per day per guide and it’s about ten of us that are out here. Maximum, you’re looking at if we do two or three tours, that’s two to three hundred dollars a day per guide.”


Minelia Chan

Minelia Chan, Vendor, Succotz Village

“I have kids, many of them have kids too and we have to sell every day. I send my kids to school and in two weeks if I don’t come what will happen? My kids will not eat?”


Delahnie Bain

“And do you all have anywhere else to go these two weeks that the place will be closed?”


Minelia Chan

“Nowhere. Only we are here and we can’t go to Cahal Pech.”


They also believe that December twenty-first should be devoted to the Mayan celebration and say the music festival should be moved to either a different date or location.


Amin Aviles

Amin Aviles

“What we’re asking is if the departments and the government would actually look at the time they’re looking at, if they could actually change that time, don’t use this time which is the most important time for the Mayas, which is the most event which everyone is waiting for. They could move at least to January or move the location. That’s what we’re asking. We’re not against anything that they’re doing; it’s fine, it’s economic for the country, it’s good ideas that they’re doing but not this time.”


Glenda Pinelo

Glenda Pinelo, Vendor, Succotz Village

“The twenty-first is not a day for party. It’s a special day for Maya celebration; it’s not a party day. I don’t know why they are doing that like a party day. It’s not for party, it’s a sacred day.”


Elfredo Panti Sr., Tour Guide, Succotz Village

Elfredo Panti Sr.

“All the world has their eyes on Mesoamerica, middle America and particularly Belize. We’re proud to live in Belize because all the world is watching us and so there are thousands of tourists coming to Belize, visiting the sites and especially that particular day, they want to commemorate the end of the Mayan Calendar. That’s how we see it.”


But according to the Village Council spokesperson, Wilson Pat, the problem is simply the lack of notice and information. He says the Music Festival will actually benefit the residents of the village.


Wilson Pat, Spokesperson/Treasurer, Village Council

“The benefits of those—part of it will come to the village and part will be for NICH, archaeology to improve the sites and things. I mean, it’s a worthy concert their having, but the problem is that they didn’t consult, they didn’t spread the information before it is going to happen. So if it was going to happen like one month, give notice one month before and then everyone will know what to do, where to go.  Last night they sent a person to us to inform me what will happen and on Tuesday we’ll have a meeting with the minister and responsible persons to explain everything and to clarify all this mishap, all this up and downs that’s happening but the thing is a matter of procedure.”


Pat explains that the tour guides and vendors will also have opportunities to continue making money, especially on the two days of the festival.


Wilson Pat

Wilson Pat

“If this site is being closed, we have the neighbor Cahal Pech, where I think it’s being done to divert everything to Cahal Pech right now so they can do their business. Also, the information that I got is that NICH will hire workers from Succotz and if these guys—they are involved here, they are part of us so they can easily get a job there working for those days with NICH.  It will be closed on the site, but the highway will not be closed to vehicles coming from Petén and other areas, they can stop in and buy the artifacts and everything. Moreover, on those two days, they will be open at the site; they will put tables for them so they can display the arts and craft and sell it. Those two days, the twentieth and the twenty-first, everybody will be going up. It starts from like four o’clock in the morning until ten o’clock at night so they have enough time to sell anything they want. And it’s not only locals. It’s an international fest so it’s a time when they can make a little money.”


Meanwhile, Alberto Panti, the acting president of the Cayo West Tour Guide Association has been reaching out to relevant authorities to work out a solution.


Alberto Panti

“What I have been trying to do and I want to be clear here that I contacted Mr. Erwin Contreras this morning and he said that he is having a meeting with the Prime Minister of Belize today and later on he is going to talk to Mr. Heredia concerning the closing of the site. That is one of the few things I have done and I think that on Tuesday we are going to go to Belmopan for a meeting with the prime minister.”


Delahnie Bain for News Five.

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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16 Responses for “Xunantunich, the concert and the Succotz residents”

  1. Storm says:

    I hope a better resolution can be found. At a minimum, it sounds like whoever was in charge of this event on the government side was neglectful by failing to assess the impact on the economic environment.

    Of course, if we survive the end of the world, the next Mayan day of doom comes around in only 52,000 years, and maybe these people can make up for it then.

  2. borntobehero says:

    Please allow me to say the following;
    What is taking place in San Jose Sucotz is not fair, since everyone that visits Xunantunich or any other sacred ceremonial site Has Expected to see It, in ITS entire natural condition!.

    And now the Leaders of the day You! are moving things around.?

    I am in favor of the local vendors and tour guides. And even the average tourist that WISHES and Expects to see the Original wonders of any Archaeological site. Not a musical festival on the day of Importance such as the 21st. ( Come On mein!) I also read what you are offering and I am not convinced of any of it, NICH nor the Chairperson saying that people passing on the road would buy from vendors this is low expectation. I can see you are not for real.
    I know that these locals are the pure descendants of the ancient mayans and for no reason they should be deny to continue normally in their ways of earning their living on what they are good at.
    Hey Dr. Jaime We did not expect this from your leadership sorry to say this way BUT seems as you are losing the real vision.
    Respectfully and for the people.
    A concerned Belizean!

  3. busha says:

    and what does NICH have to say?

  4. AJ says:

    does anyone know if the vendors will be around that area anyways. if so i will try and send tourists in there direction to do some gift shopping.

  5. Nimbo says:

    only in Belize? they plan such things without thinking the effects it will have on others. Kind of backward thinking that we can never progress from.

    closing an Archeological site, during the height of the season and which has been heavily advertized. They should be planning something to coincide with the date that is what they should be doing?

    Again, it will not affect their pockets so they can do what they wish…

  6. Succotz_ Cayo says:

    Man . . . What a sell-out Wilson Pat has become. just a few days ago Wilson was adamant about why they closing the site for 2 weeks – now he is whistling a different tune. How can these people make up for the loss of revenue of 2 weeks in 2 days? if people are comign to a concert would you go around buying hammocks, bags, vases etc? please! This is what politics does to people. The point of the matter is this – the site belongs to no Jaime Awe or no NICH, it is ours – we the residents of this area. so before you decide on any closure you need to consult us. where is the village chairman? the treasurer is and has always been a money monger!

  7. Coralblack says:

    I would think that such a huge event like an International Music Festival, would be advertise months ago instead of just out of the blue at the last moment. I even read on channel 7 news about artist like Sarah Mclachlan,and Niel Young performing. Seems strange to me.

  8. stzvillager says:

    well I am a concerned belizean and from Succotz.

    this is the reason I will start by saying that it is not all the villagers that are against of this event that is going to happened and is not all tourguide nor all the vendors from my village.
    the reason why is b/c this is going to benfit belize and also my village.instead this will be promoting my village and the mayan ruin of xunantunich b/c this event will be internationaly .in the future thi will bring more income.

    PLS stop to use the excuse of always using . will this mandness they are puting against NICH OR DR. AWE will be the same if the rive rise b/c we all know that when the river rise the maya site have to close will this also means that it will be DR.awe or nich fault
    for the tour guides this means that you are not really tourguides you are only XUNANTUNICH GUIDE.tourguides should not use the word b/c as tour guides they should be able to tour any other mayan this case we have our neighbor CAHAL PECH.what a disgrace ih this tour guides from this tourgides.they shold not be called guids b/c they can only tour on Xunantunich.

    for the vendors this will not affect you fellow vllagers,I have seen that on other times when the site is close b/c of the river rising you all still selling , b/c your are on the road sit and foreigners or even locals pass and stop to buy.

    DR.AWE and NICH stz is in your support no reason to pay to muc attention to those ONLY XUNANTUNICH conclude I wounder why they were only tought on Xunatunich why not Cahal pech,Caracol,Altun Ha ,Lamanai.THEY ARE LOCK OF KNOWLADE.NO entienden lo Bueno que viene despues.

  9. Southern says:

    Classic backwardness in Belize.

  10. stzvillage says:

    Well i will like to start by saying that it is not all the villagers ,tourguides nor all the vendours that are against this event that is going to happened.

    I dont know why this tourguides have to be mad with NICH AND DR.AWE.If they are called tourguides why they have to depen on only Xunantunich this means they are not tourguides they are only XUNANTUNICH GUIDES.Something is wrong with the tour guide school why arn’t they teaching them on other mayan sit like our neighbor cahal pech,caracl,altun ha or lamanai.why only xunantunich? PLS stop to always use our children as an excusethis is not of man b/c man have any other ways to bring food to the table

    is this s the same way they behave whenever the river rises b/c when the river rise they have to close the mayan site too.this does not affect the vendors nighter b/c they are on the road side where lot of foreigner and even locals stops to buy with them. I had seen many times that even when the site is close seek of the river rise they still go to sell.

    this will bring benefit to our country and to our village b/c this event will also be internationaly piensen en el porvenir don’tbe short term memory guides you to will benefit from it and even more.

    NICH AND DR.AWE no need to pay to much attention to those XUNANTUNICHGUIDE not tour guides.

    LACK OF KNOWLADGE are this tour guides oh: sory XUNANGUIDES.por que no entienen they are short term memory solo piensan en orita not in the future.

    TO conclude NICHE AND DR.AWE not all villagers ,vendor nor tourguides are against it.

  11. Maya Belizean says:

    this is a sacred temple and this are religious dates, it is disrespectful waht they are doing to us mayas

  12. Gone fishing says:

    I keep hearing about this big international music festival at Xunantunich.

    I keep looking at the Internet as to when and who will play, and who is producing it.

    Not much out there.

    Go to BTB, THEY MUST KNOW, right?
    Their website is down. URL not found.
    If they can’t keep a website up and running, how is this festival going to run?
    Better be run by someone not in Belize, who can make things happen, or it will be an expensive joke.

    And if you want people to show, why is it not on Dec 21?
    Sounds like a different group of tourists.
    Wonder if any Mayans will be allowed.

    Who is doing the marketing on this mess?
    Who is the executive behind it? Space aliens, tickets sold on another planet?
    How many tickets? How big a show? 1 day, 2, 3, week, month?

    Is this a private event? Seems like it. Why else would there be nothing on it on the Internet?
    Cirque Soliel video?
    A Copolla movie? Two weeks to set up? How much gear are they bringing in?
    is this going to be like the Fitzcarraldo movie, hauling a steamship up a pyramid?

    A well organized music touring producer should be able to set up a large stage in three days with a competent crew of 50. A regular stage in one day.

    This better be good, or it is going to be a big joke.
    Good luck to whoever is creating it.

  13. Seletar says:

    Great questions, @Gone Fishing.

    Who will answer from GOB?

  14. Wilson says:

    Before we write crazyness or do something, we must think twice.. Xuantunich closed? – for what? you know the info? what benefit brings to our community? who will benefit?… and many other questions…….. this village council is a well organized one, with all members having their work to do….. no money mongers here….. My village has seen lots of improvement. open your eyes good before writing nonsense…….. we do welcome projects for the community,, …… WITH PROPER CONSULTATION……Progress bring problems….. tats true……

  15. wilson pat says:

    Succotz- Cayo. wat a disgrace you are… do you know why Xunantunich is being closed? do you have the answer? My VIllage Council is a well organized one. All members have a role to play. And we do work together for the betterment of our village. We look good. I do not know about you, but we are not money monger…….. come jion this crowd for abetter Succotz…… We the San Jose Village Council are looking answer to this problem with benefit to our village……….

  16. gone fishing says:

    It does not look too good. Hundreds of posts about it on this website.

    google on eyexxon and keep the domain restricted to that site to get the juicy details.
    Roxanne is a convicted felon and can’t come to Belize, still on probation.

    Might require a miracle by investor “kingpacal” to pull this off.
    He says he can do it with the new investors in Chicago.
    It was his son who got Armando Almirall involved, he admits that as a mistake.

    Now MY mea culpa:
    I googled “belize tourism board” and picked #2 because it had the heading
    “Belize Tourism Board”

    My apologies to BTB and belize for my mistake and rash remark.
    I did not look into this further before writing incorrectly about them.
    A misjudgement on my part.
    BTB is listed as #1 with the heading
    “Belize | Caribbean Vacation Destination | Belize Tourism Board …”

    A whois search indicates is controlled by an unknown person, most likely someone trying to embarrass BTB and the country.

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