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Indigenous People’s Resistance Day: Government changes October 12 holiday name again

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Posted: Wednesday, November 17, 2021. 12:55 pm CST.

By Rubén Morales Iglesias: The Government of Belize has changed the October 12 holiday, yet again.

Now it’s going to be officially called Indigenous People’s Resistance Day. The first time the public and bank holiday is going to be celebrated under that name will be on Monday, October 10, 2022, since the 12th falls in midweek, according to a press release by the Government of Belize Press Office.

Earlier this year after taking over the government late last year, the government silently erased the October 12 Pan American Day. So, this year, Belize did not have a holiday on October 12. But, lo and behold, a few weeks ago, the Government, in a similar manner again, reinserted the holiday as Día de la Raza.

Comments on social media questioned the change and seemed to be more in favour of calling it Indigenous Day.

When questioned, Minister of Agriculture Jose Abelardo Mai, said “We are not celebrating Columbus Day. We are celebrating the day of the Mestizos. We are celebrating the Hispanics. We have Hispanics, we have Creole, we have Garifuna. We’re celebrating a Hispanic Day.”

But Día de la Raza is gone before all Belizeans even knew about the change.

Día de la Raza is how the holiday is called in many of the Latin American countries who have chosen to distance themselves from Christopher Columbus because of the bloody conquest and colonial subjugation of the indigenous people and enslavement of African people which followed his arrival. And while Columbus is seen as a hero in Spain and with the Italian community in the United States, he is certainly not in most of Latin America. After years of protests in Latin American countries against the legacy of the Spanish conquest and indigenous people making themselves heard and felt, the Día de la Raza, though not free of criticisms, is now seen in a different light.

But that different light is still controversial and hence the preference for the word “indigenous”. Even US president Joe Biden has gone for it.

So, though, it’s another silent change, it looks like the Belize Government is following those steps. The holiday act making the change was signed on Wednesday, November 17, by the Minister reposnsible for Holidays, Minister of Home Affairs, and New Growth Industries Kareem Musa.

Indigenous Peoples’ Resistance Day will be next year. Unless Government comes up with another change.

All other holidays remain the same.

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