Posted: Tuesday, March 23, 2021. 10:43 am CST.
By Aaron Humes: The personal, emotional, historical story of a little-known piece of Belizean history came to life over the weekend in the village of San Jose Palmar, Orange Walk District.
There it was that the Image Factory Art Foundation launched the book “Maximo: the Last Alcalde of San Jose Yalbac,” co-authored by Carmen Carrillo and Delmer Tzib, edited by Melissa Castellanos, and illustrated by Carlos Quiroz.
Maximo Perez masterminded the move of his people from Yalbac, modern-day Cayo District, to San Jose Nuevo Palmar, located just outside Orange Walk Town, after a land struggle with the Belize Estate Company (BEC), which gobbled land in the area for many years. He won a court case against the company’s takeover and personally wrote King George VI of the United Kingdom to intervene.
The original settlement was one of the last of the Icaiche Maya, who fled similar oppression in Mexico during the Caste War of the mid to late 19th century.
More importantly, it is a family story, told to Carmen by her father one Sunday morning in an emotional outpouring. As alcalde (a system more familiarly used by southern Maya in Toledo), Maximo Perez directed the community’s subsistence and activities, settled disputes, fought criminal activity, and was a jack of all trades and master of many.
As explained by the Image Factory, Perez’s story is “a tale of community resilience, identity, and bravery. It is the story of a man who stood against the odds of British colonialism to represent and care for his people in Yalbac and in San Jose Nuevo Palmar…. [Maximo is] a figure of identity, a representation of resistance, and an urgent story for contemporary Belize.”
The book is available for free as a downloadable eBOOK on the Image Factory Art Foundation Facebook page (https://www.docdroid.net/hxORpzS/maximo-ebook-pdf). A limited printed edition is now available for sale at $20 each, from the Image Factory in Belize City.
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