By Wellington C. Ramos
Since the discussion on “reparations” started I have not heard or seen nothing in the news as to what my country’s position is on this issue. In Belize most of our ethnic groups are victims of European slavery and genocide by the British, Spanish and other European crowns.
Born in Dangriga Town, the cultural capital of Belize, Wellington Ramos has BAs in Political Science and History from Hunter College, NY, and an MA in Urban Studies from Long Island University. He is an Adjunct Professor of Political Science and History
The native Maya Indian people were tortured and their land was taken away by the British and Spanish. The Garifuna people were tortured by the British, land taken away and forcefully removed to Rotan, Honduras. The Creole people were brought from the continent of Africa by the British and were enslaved for many years. The East Indian people were forcefully removed by the British to Belize and other countries to provide labour for them in their new colonies.
In Belize and several other former British colonies, there are some people who are so brainwashed that they think they are British, Spanish and other Europeans, despite the genocidal acts these countries committed against their nation and people. From time to time when I engage in conversations with these individuals, they keep trying to convince me why they are British or some European mixed. After all the explanation are given, the only evidence they keep resurfacing is the slave name that the British, Spanish and the other Europeans labeled them with. The reasons why Europeans gave names to people is because they wanted the people to rid themselves of their true identity and then identify themselves as a part of their culture. Then, they did not see the people they enslaved as human beings equivalent to them.
Like all the victims of slavery and genocide I am experiencing problems with my own true identity. My father’s last name is “Ramos”, which is Spanish, probably given to his great-grandfather in Nicaragua where my grandfather was born. My mother’s last name is “Sampson”, which is British or English, given to my great- great-grandfather by an Englishman in Belize. I have several other names that are connected to my family and they are all British, French, Spanish or European. If these names were not given to my ancestors my name would be different today and my family's true identity would be intact to make me know who I am.
I call on all the Creoles, Garifuna, Maya and East Indians to stand behind the Belize government to make sure that Spain, Britain and France pay reparations for slavery and all the genocidal acts committed against our people. If we do not take a stand on this issue, we will be giving those countries the impression that what they did to our ancestors was justified. Plus, our ancestors will be turning in their graves for the sufferings and sacrifices they made with their lives to preserve our culture.
As a Garifuna who is mixed with African and native Indian ethnicity, I am in solidarity with all the ethnic groups in our country who have suffered from European atrocities. We now need to contact the ministries of foreign affairs and culture to appoint a multi-racial ethnic reparations committee to represent us on behalf of our country in CARICOM.
I have not heard anything from the National Garifuna Council (NGC), the Maya Alliance, the Creole Organization and the East Indian Association releasing any statement on the “reparations” issue.
We do not need to wait on the government of Belize to act. The government of Belize wants us to approach them with our own plan of action. If we do not show them that we care and want some action done on this issue they might not do anything. They have already signed on to the agreement that they stand behind all the nations of CARICOM in seeking “reparations” on behalf of their people.
Let us all now go the ministries of foreign affairs and culture to get this “reparations committee” started.