BPP Demands Apology from Minister Michael Espat
The Belize Progressive Party (BPP) is also condemning the verbiage used by Minister of State, Michael Espat, in his remarks made at Saturday’s PG Day in Punta Gorda Town. The BPP is demanding Minister Espat apologise to Ch’oc and a further apology to the Maya people of Belize. Leader of the BPP, Wil Maheia, says that Espat’s use of this type of derogatory language further encourages tensions that are already high among the ethnic groups in the South and creates more division. He adds that more education needs to be provided regarding the Maya Land Rights issue.
Hon. Michael Espat: “We have a Commissioner of Indian Affairs hired by the government of Belize in this town.”
Will Maheia, Leader of the Belize Progressive Party: “The term Indian Affairs to us it’s kind of degrading and it’s insulting. You know a few years ago people used to use the “N” word in the United States and that was changed and the “K” word in Belize referring to Garifunas and that was changed and we as Belizeans have to promote unity and harmony within the ethnic races and we cannot disrespect each other by referring to the Mayas as Indians. The Mayas are Mayas and they’re not Indians. We believe, and several Mayas have pointed it out that they do not accept being called Indians. I think that people know that using the word Indian is derogatory so especially people in leadership positions should refrain from that and we should educate our public that that is not the correct word to use. I think that there needs to be a campaign and a promotion of unity among the races because right now in Toledo there is a tension between the Mayan communities and the non Mayan communities. The government needs to take a stand and the government needs to apologise and the government needs to do more to really bring awareness of what really this Maya Land Rights case is all about and the judgment what it really means for the non Belizeans because people are very confused even people within the villages are confused. I mean you have villages right now, villages next to Kriol villages that Mayan villages are encroaching on Kriol villages and they say well the court said that all of Toledo is theirs so there’s big tensions going on in some of the villages here in Toledo and it is not being addressed and we’re calling on the government to address these concerns.”