GOB quickly changes the ‘Dia de la Raza’ holiday to ‘Indigenous Peoples’ Resistance Day’ after public objection

Friday, November 19th, 2021

Earlier this month, the Government of Belize (GOB) issued a revised list of holidays for 2022. October 12th, previously known as Columbus Day and Pan American Day, was renamed ‘El Dia de la Raza.’ Many Belizeans across the country rebuffed the new name and considered it related to the arrival of Christopher Columbus to this part of the world in 1492, which led to the decimation of native groups. On Tuesday, November 16th, GOB issued a revised list, renaming the holiday to ‘Indigenous Peoples’ Resistance Day.
Objection to ‘Dia de la Raza’ was also heard in San Pedro Town, Ambergris Caye, where Area Representative the Honourable Andre Perez said to have been against the ‘Dia de la Raza’ naming. The new name is better received as it honors the native groups of the Americas who resisted European colonial conquests. He strongly supports the Indigenous Peoples’ Resistance Day idea. “It is Indigenous resistance; we have to do that; it is about remembering our Indigenous people,” said Perez. In his personal opinion, October 12th is nothing to be proud of as with the arrival of Columbus; many local civilizations were exploited and faced prosecution and destruction. Perez believes that October 12th should never be a holiday, and he is glad that the ‘El Dia de la Raza’ name was replaced.
The name ‘El Dia de la Raza’ is said to have been initially and unofficially chosen during a Cabinet meeting not attended by the minister in charge of holidays, the Honourable Kareem Musa. “I am thankful that when I was present, we were able to discuss the matter and all of Cabinet unanimously agreed that the proper name for October 12th should be Indigenous Peoples’ Resistance Day to acknowledge and recognize the survival, the struggle, and the resistance of indigenous people in Belize,” said Musa. It was reported that members of Cabinet from the northern part of the country, like the Honourable Jose Mai, had approved the El Dia de la Raza name.

Hon. Kareem Musa

The list of public and bank holidays for next year will see the absence of May 24th, known as Sovereign or Commonwealth Day. It was established in honor of Queen Victoria, then later recognized as part of Belize’s ties to the United Kingdom. Musa said that Belize is one of the few countries still celebrating that day.
A formal committee is now advising on the establishment of holidays under the Holidays Act. The remaining holidays for this year include Garifuna Settlement Day on Friday, November 19, Christmas on Saturday, December 25, and Boxing Day on Monday, December 27 instead of Sunday, December 26. New Year’s remains unchanged and will be observed on Saturday, January 1, 2022.


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