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Ministry of Education directs “formal complaint” by NICH over Leela Vernon appropriation

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Posted: Sunday, August 15, 2021. 3:53 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: Minister of Education, Culture, Science and Technology Francis Fonseca has directed the National Institute of Culture and History (NICH) to “take immediate action to register a formal complaint” over the alleged cultural appropriation by a Guatemalan artist of brukdown artist Leela Vernon’s “Ding Ding Walla Walla.”

In his statement posted to social media this afternoon, Fonseca said the complaint would be directed to the relevant Guatemalan authorities as well as regional cultural organizations the Central American Integration System (SICA) and Center for Education and Cultural Coordination (CECC).

Fonseca adds that it is important to legally register and protect individual and original works and for the country to protect its cultural property, while acknowledging that Belize has been guilty of “showing very little respect for the intellectual, cultural and artistic property of regional and international artists as well as our own local artists.”

Research we have conducted shows no less than three versions of the song, the first made by the Belizean band The Web in 1975 and released by Compton Fairweather’s CES Records, the second, more familiar version by Vernon and the third by Kimberly Flores, which has been nominated for an award.

We will continue to follow the story.

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