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Bridging Cultures Belize’s Leadership: A Beacon from the Past, Illuminating the Future

Updated: Mar 22

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In a groundbreaking decision that resonated throughout the Western Hemisphere, Belize appointed Froyla Tzalam, a Mopan Maya woman, as its Governor-General in May 2021. This historic moment not only underscored Belize’s commitment to elevating indigenous voices but may have also inspired Canada’s appointment of Mary Simon, an Inuk leader, as its Governor-General. The Governor-General, representing the British monarch, holds a constitutional position that ranks above the Prime Minister in Belize. Their powers, largely ceremonial, embody the highest authority in the country, highlighting the significance of indigenous representation in such esteemed roles.

I extend my gratitude to the Honorable John Briceño, Prime Minister of Belize, and his government for their visionary leadership in making this historic appointment. Their decision to appoint Ms. Tzalam marks a significant moment in Belize’s history and sends a powerful message about the value of diversity and inclusivity at the highest levels of governance. Notably, Mr. Briceño is of Mestizo descent a mixture of Maya and Spanish ancestry.

This ethos of embracing a diverse heritage and promoting cultural inclusivity is further embodied by the Honorable Said Musa, a multi-term former Prime Minister of Belize. Of Mayan descent on his mother’s side and Palestinian on his father’s, Musa’s leadership was marked by a strong emphasis on investing in art, culture, and history, vigorously championing the melting pot of Belizean identity. His tenure serves as a testament to Belize’s long-standing tradition of acknowledging and celebrating its rich cultural mosaic at the highest levels of governance. As my role model and someone I deeply admire and respect, his influence on my life has been profound, shaping my understanding of leadership and commitment to cultural heritage.

The Honorable Said Musa spoke at the 2012 International Symposium on Cultural Diplomacy and International Economics, held in Berlin, Germany. He articulated a compelling vision where cultural diplomacy serves as a foundational pillar for resolving global conflicts and fostering unity. By highlighting cultural exchange as a mechanism of diplomacy, he underscored the potential of culture to weave and stitch together the fabric of international relationships, suggesting that such exchanges are not only beneficial but essential for global harmony and progress emphasizing the importance of cultural exchange in understanding and appreciating diverse perspectives.

Distinguished amongst Belize’s transformative leaders is the Right Honorable George Cadle Price, affectionately considered the father of the nation. As the first Prime Minister of Belize, Price played a pivotal role in steering the country towards independence, cementing his legacy as one of the architects of Belize’s sovereignty. Of mixed African, European, and Mayan ancestry, Price’s unwavering dedication to Belize’s autonomy and development left an indelible mark on the nation’s history.

The Maya civilization, to which Belize was a crucial contributor, has left a remarkable legacy that resonates to this day. The Mayans were pioneers in agriculture, notably in the cultivation of corn, which remains a staple food across the Americas. Their architectural marvels, such as the towering pyramids and grandiose cities that blend harmoniously with the natural landscape, continue to draw admiration and study from around the world. Moreover, the Mayans’ innovative creation of rubber and their sophisticated farming techniques underscore their ingenuity and deep understanding of the natural world.

The Mayans were also ahead of their time in social and legal structures, enacting laws against public drunkenness and allowing slaves opportunities for freedom. This progressive approach to governance and social welfare highlights a society that valued order, justice, and the possibility of social and economic mobility.

Archaeological evidence confirms that Lamanai, one of Belize’s major ancient Maya sites, was indeed a significant trading hub. This site was integral to the exchange of goods such as jade and obsidian, showcasing Belize’s pivotal role in the vast Mayan trade networks. Nestled amidst the lush greenery of Belize, Lamanai was once the heart of a vast trading network that dealt in exquisite goods such as jade, obsidian, and fine ceramics, underscoring Belize’s pivotal role in the distribution of finer materials and luxuries that crisscrossed the Mayan world.

This thriving center of exchange was instrumental in weaving together the diverse threads of Mayan society, showcasing Belize’s importance not merely as a point on the map but as a vital artery in the body of Mesoamerican trade and culture. Additionally, this site harbors the sugar mill established by James Hyde, marking the advent of the Hyde family in Belize.

His endeavors with the Hyde and Hodge company significantly contributed to the mahogany trade, a symbol now deeply ingrained in Belize’s identity through the national flag. The mahogany tree, prominently featured alongside the motto “Sub Umbra Floreo” (Under the Shade I Flourish), mirrors the shade under which Belize’s diverse histories, cultures, and economies have flourished, reflecting my family’s intertwined legacy with Belize’s natural and cultural heritage.

In my work as a fashion designer, these interconnected stories of ancient wisdom, family heritage, national identity, and Belize’s significant role as a trading hub are woven into the very fabric of my designs. My brand’s logo, inspired by the double-headed serpent artifact housed in the British Museum, is a direct nod to the profound connection between Belize and the broader Mesoamerican cultural and spiritual landscape. Made from a mosaic of turquoise pieces, this artifact symbolizes the enduring legacy of the Maya civilization, reflecting the intricate and sophisticated artistry that the Maya were renowned for.

Adding to this legacy of leadership and commitment to national development is my cousin, the Honorable Cordell Hyde, who currently serves as the Deputy Prime Minister of Belize. His role and contributions to the country’s governance further inspire my journey and emphasize the deep ties my family has with the leadership and progress of Belize. This blog is more than a reflection on historical appointments and ancient civilizations. It’s a personal statement of my commitment to using fashion as a medium to correct the errors in the pages of history and to contribute to an ongoing American Renaissance.

As we continue to uncover the grandeur of the Mayan civilization, we are reminded of the need to broaden our understanding of what it means to be American and to celebrate the diverse cultures that have shaped this identity. Through fashion, I aim to honor my heritage, challenge historical narratives, and contribute to a broader, more inclusive definition of Americana, reflecting a rich tapestry of cultures and stories that deserve recognition and respect.

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23 de mar.

Wow I never knew this much about Belize. I should plan a trip.

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