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Belize residents protest Royal visit

(CMR) Prince William and Kate had to cancel a trip to a cocoa farm in Belize on Saturday after villagers in Indian Creek staged a protest, describing their visit as ‘colonialism' and ‘a slap in the face'. The visit to the farm would have been the couple's first significant engagement of their Caribbean tour in celebration of the Queen's Platinum Jubilee.

On Friday, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge left the UK to fly to Belize, where they were expected to be given an official welcome at the airport before meeting the prime minister.

According to the Daily Mail, they planned to visit the Akte'iL Ha cacao farm in the foothills of the Maya Mountains, a prime example of sustainable farming. But the village of Indian Creek has been in open conflict with Flora and Fauna International, a charity that owns an adjoining contested property. William has been FFI's patron since 2020, the latest in a line of royals stretching back to George VI.

Villagers are involved in a highly emotional fight against the state and FFI, which works to protect ecosystems worldwide over the rights to lands lost in the colonial era. In particular, they are angry about 12,000 acres of land that agents working for FFI have told them is ‘private property' and not for communal use.

The indigenous Q'eqchi Maya people say they were not consulted about William and Kate's visit and this week held a community meeting that was followed by yesterday's protest. Daily Mail reported.

Sebastian Shol, chairman of Indian Creek village, said: ‘We don't want them to land on our land; that's the message that we want to send. They could land anywhere but not on our land.”

 They were outraged that William and Kate's helicopter was permitted to land on their football field without consultation.

Village youth leader Dionisio Shol said the way the visit had been handled raised the issue of ‘colonialism'.

He said: ‘For us, it really hits right at home because of the treatment. The organizer said we had to let them use the football field and that people were coming to our village and it had to look good.

‘But they didn't want to divulge who. Eventually, somebody said it was Prince William coming to our village. That's where the first issue arose. These are high-profile people, we respect them, but they also have to be giving respect to the community leaders. Giving community leaders commands did not sit well with the community.'

The police refused to allow them to protest during the planned visit on Saturday because of security concerns, so villagers staged a demonstration on Friday.

The Belize government said: “Indian Creek was one of several sites being considered. Due to issues in the village, the Government of Belize activated its contingency planning, and another venue has been selected to showcase Maya family entrepreneurship in the cacao industry.”

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Renae Stampp

Renae Stampp

A regional writer with almost 10 years of experience working in various news media including two major media houses in Bermuda and Jamaica. Renae provides professional content for our regional and international audience.

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