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A Brief History of Belize


bulletThe first people of Belize were the Maya. Over a million people once lived in the area we now call Belize.
bulletThe first European settlers to Belize were British pirates who used Belize as a base from which they raided Spanish ships (1850's)
bullet"Treaty of Madrid", outlaws piracy, the pirates had to find an honest living. They soon found a new treasure in the logwood trade.
bulletThe settlement was established and the new settlers were called the Baymen
bulletSpain laid claim to Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and the area now known as Belize
bulletNo Spanish colonies were ever established in the area of Belize, still Spain never liked the idea of British squatters in her land and this led to frequent wars with the Spanish and settlers
bulletThe most famous of these was the battle of St. George's Caye (key) (where the majority of the settlers lived) where the Baymen soundly defeated the Spanish
bulletSeveral treaties with Spain gave the Baymen greater boundaries to cut logwood and mahogany. The most significant was in 1859 when the Anglo-Guatemalan Treaty gave Britain sovereignty over the territory we now know as Belize.
bulletSoon after in 1862 the settlement became a colony and was called British Honduras until 1973 when it changed its name back to Belize
bulletFor the most part Belizeans found themselves in a situation where the British colonialist were exploiting the countries resources and giving back nothing in return to the colony. As a result the people were poor, they were hungry, and depressed by their economic situation. Why should Britain get richer and the colony poorer was the general sentiment. The wealth that Belize possessed should remain at home where it can be used for developing the country rather than for Britain's coffers.
bulletA series of events set the stage for a desire for independence: but it was not until 1934 when organized labour (labor) movements demonstrated the power of solidarity.
bulletAntonio Soberanis was a leader in this movement and contributed significantly by effecting change and challenging the establishment and defying authority
bulletThis gave rise to the Nationalist Movement: Belizeans begin to question colonialism and think about their own rights.
bullet1950 the PUP is born under such leaders as George Price, Philip Goldson, and Leigh Richardson
bulletThey united the people and workers throughout the country
bulletcampaigned against colonialism
bulletdemanded better economic conditions and political power
bulletled a successful national strike in 1952
bulletwon universal adult suffrage (right to vote)
bulletIn 1964 Belize gained the right to self government


From self government to Independence with full sovereignty and all its territory intact was not an easy task and not without its obstacles:
bulletFirst Belize had to gain recognition and international support on the world stage
bulletSecond Belize had to dispel claims made by Guatemala that Belize belonged to them
bulletThird Belize had to ensure that Britain and other Nations would guarantee protection in the face of a Guatemalan threat of invasion
bulletAnd lastly Belize had to ensure that Independence would not come at the cost of anything less than full sovereignty and territorial integrity (a difficult task since Guatemala didn't want to go home empty handed and the people of Belize refused to give up so much as an inch of land)
bulletSeptember 21st 1981 Belize becomes independent, and her flag is hoisted and her anthem is played for the first time
bulletSince then Belize moves onward with its "peaceful, constructive Belizean revolution..."

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