BELMOPAN, Belize – Belize is celebrating its 37th anniversary of political independence from Britain with a military parade, marches and parades as well as street parties with a warning from Prime Minister Dean Barrow that the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country still faces “multiple challenges”.
Barrow, who is recuperating from spinal surgery, told his fellow citizens that the country’s achievement since independence has been “glorious” and despite being confronted by a “large, militarised neighbour with an unjust and illegal claim to our country, threatening our extinction; and a colonial power reluctant to do what was necessary to help finalize our secure freedom”.
He said Belizeans are not deterred and as they celebrate 37 years of independence “the maintenance of our Independence with our territory intact is vindication of all those qualities that made our original struggle so wonderful to behold”.
But he acknowledged “there are still multiple challenges that beset us” adding “many are new, they are not peculiar… they are no more than should be expected from any nation-building process and are shared by all small, developing countries”.
But he said that the centuries old border dispute with Guatemala “remains the same bane that confounded our Independence campaign” and he is confident that when the matter goes before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) “it will mark the beginning of the end for Damocles and his sword”.
“As for the rest, the durability of the Belizean spirit, the imperishability of the Belizean soul, are what will see us through. Our hard-won Independence has been enriched by our own human capital and the world’s recognition of our fantastic natural wealth.”
Barrow said he is asking Belizeans this year to think on all these things and be glad, “let us celebrate the success of an Independence well won – a job well done. Let us celebrate the confidence given us by our history, by our victory. Let us be assured that metal forged in fire is unbreakable. And that mettle produced by struggle is unconquerable.”
“Thus it is that we march straight on, nothing can daunt us, nothing can stop us. Let us remember those architects of Belizean Independence, of Belizean exceptionality. And long may they inspire us,” Barrow said, adding “let our celebration, therefore, be unconstrained,” he added. (CMC)