The Battle of St. George’s Caye is a historical fact, despite efforts by some to suggest otherwise. 216 years after the naval engagement off Belize’s coast however, the question two historians attempted to answer today was: “Is the Battle important and relevant to modern Belize, and if so, how?”
With an answer, here is presenter and chair of the executive board of the Belize History Association, Francis Humphreys.
“As we’ve said, in the context of the presentation itself, the Battle put in place the first foundation stone for the permanence of what is today Belize. Without that permanence, you and I wouldn’t be having this discussion today.
Spain had intended to plant the Spanish flag in the settlement, permanently, but that didn’t happen. The defense of the settlement was successful, as a consequence of the Battle, and the rest, as the saying goes, is history.
We were here to stay, and if there is any doubt about it, as I pointed out, well we built Saint John’s Cathedral, we build Government House, we built the first bridge across the Haulover Creek. There are tombs erected in memory of some of the key participants in the whole conflict and, in general, Belize was here to stay.”
Joining Francis Humphreys was former political representative and amateur historian Fred Hunter. The two presented their research on the Battle of St. George’s Caye to an audience of students at the Bliss Center Auditorium and via radio and television, answering questions submitted via Facebook as well.
Francis Humphreys told us that continued research by members of the non-profit association will lead to a comprehensive and inclusive history of Belize commissioned by the Association.
Vice-chair of the Association Gian Vasquez spoke to us about more of the Association’s plans.
“Because we’re new, there are many other things that we want to do. We want this to not just be a singular event that occurs only in September. We want to mark it down on the calendar that the Association will give a lecture every September, as part of the September Celebrations.
Our Director had mentioned that we want to look at the curriculum, and how can we impact our students, and have Belizean History be a part of that Curriculum. So when they come out of High School, or out in public, they are very knowledgeable about it.
Our counterparts in Guatemala educate their children to believe Belize is a part of them. So we, at least, need to educate our children to know what we are, and who we are,”
The National History Lecture is planned to become an annual event. Another lecture on Belize’s economic development and future is planned for September 17.