Canning House Celebrates Belize Role In Central America:

The UK media has recently been showing considerable interest in Belize. This is mainly because Lord Ashcroft, the British Conservative Party’s Deputy Chairman , has extensive business involvement in the country. The Belizean Prime Minister, Dean Barrow, told his parliament earlier this year that “Ashcroft is an extremely powerful man. His net worth may well be equal to our entire GDP (Gross Domestic Product)”. On Tuesday 17th November, Canning House – known especially for its promotion of Latin American culture – inaugurated ‘The Belize Hall’ at its premises in Belgrave Square, London. The event was hosted by its President Lord Brennan QC, Bolivian Ambassador Beatriz Souviron and the High Commissioner for Belize, Mrs Kamela Palma and attended by about 60 guests. In her speech, Mrs Palma emphasized that a priority for Belize since its accession to SICA ( The Central American Integration System)  “ has been to deepen those natural ties between our country and those of our brothers and sisters in Central America and also to strengthen our ties with South America”.

SICA was established  in December 1991 with the objective of “transforming the area into a region of peace, liberty, democracy and development”. Belize will become ‘Chair’ of the organization in July 2010. Mrs Palma added that her country sees itself as the natural bridge between Central America, Mexico and the members of CARICOM ( the association of  15 Caribbean nations and dependencies). She furthermore acknowledged with gratitude the presence of her diplomatic colleagues from Barbados, Grenada, Cuba and Costa Rica.  Belize is the only country in Central America where English is the official language, although Spanish and Kriol are also widely spoken among its 320,000 population. Formerly known as ‘British Honduras’, it attained full independence on 21st September 1981. Guatemala finally recognised the new nation in 1991 but continues to claim a substantial part of its 8,867 square miles of territory. The dispute, which occasionally leads to tension on the “adjacency line” between the two countries, is due to be referred  to the International Court of Justice following the signing of a ‘Special Agreement’ by the foreign ministers of Belize and Guatemala.

As Mrs Palma herself has affirmed (in an interview with ‘The Diplomat’ magazine) “We are neighbours and we share a heritage. We will work together to find a solution”. At Canning House, she expressed her personal desire that “The inauguration of The Belize Hall serves to stimulate even stronger bonds between Latin America and the Caribbean. Tropical musical entertainment for the evening was provided by the Haringey Youth Steel Band. Including those present were relatives of the painter, Fernando Montes (1930-2007), some of whose works were on display for the occasion. Born in Bolivia, Peru, he moved to London in 1960 to study at St Martins School of Art and the Central School of Arts and Crafts. His paintings were thereafter  put on show at locations such as the Musee d’Art Moderne in Paris, the Endoh Gohki Museum in Kyoto, Japan and the Venice Biennial. His retrospective exhibition “Spirit Of the Andes’ at the Mall Galleries in London in 2008 was described by ‘The Independent’ newspaper as featuring “ powerful, stark images which drew on Bolivia’s indigenous intellectual traditions”.



Filed under: Politics | Posted on November 30th, 2009 by Colin D Gordon

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