Saturday, July 13, 2024

Royals will not visit Indian Creek in the Toledo District after villagers protest


Prince William and his wife Kate have reportedly canceled one of their stops in Belize during their official visit, which starts today, Saturday, March 19th. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were to visit the Akte ‘il Ha cacao farm in the village of Indian Creek, Toledo, but following a protest by some of the villagers opposing the visit, the engagement was scrapped.

This cacao farm is a prime example of sustainable farming. The problem with the villagers is that they found out that Prince William is a patron of Flora and Fauna International (FFI). This conservation group owns a property of about 12,000 acres adjacent to the village. This added to the long-running row over communal land rights. The land owned by FFI is contested as part of the village. Spokesman Donisio Shol said that if Prince William is a patron of FFI, that supports the move restricting their access to such lands. “This is colonialism in a different form,” said Shol. The villagers claim that they are taking away their land in the name of conservation.

To send a message and show their dissatisfaction with the proposed royal visit to their village, on Friday, March 18th, a group of the villagers (Q’eqchi Maya) marched around Indian Creek with placards showing their dissatisfaction with the visit from the royals. Donisio Shol referred to the move as colonialism and disrespectful when no one in the village was consulted of such a visit. He said that the community leaders were just asked to prepare the football field because a dignitary was going to arrive in a helicopter. “If they had informed the village, they would not be protesting. The problem started with the lack of acknowledgment of the leaders in the village,” said Shol.

Some of the placards had messages demanding FFI’s patrons stop taking their land. Others demanded that FFI stay away from their village, while other posters read, ‘Prince William, as long as you are helping FFI take our lands, you are NOT welcome.’

The village is now aware that the visit by the Duke and Duchess has been cancelled. Shol said it was their decision, but Indian Creek is glad to know their message was received. They welcome the royals, but they did not like the process how the event was being organized and wanted more inclusion of the village leaders.

Organizers of the visit are now looking at alternative locations to fill in the cancellation gap to the cacao farm in Indian Creek.

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