By NAN STAFF WRITER
News Americas, BELMOPAN, Belize, Sat. March 19, 2022: “We don´t want them to land on our land, that´s the message that we want to send.”
That’s the word from Sebastian Shol, chairman of the indigenous Indian Creek village in Belize, as Britain´s Prince William and his wife Kate Middleton were due to tour the Akte ‘il Ha cacao farm today, March 19th on their first official day of tours in the CARICOM Commonwealth nation.
“They could land anywhere but not on our land,” Shol was quoted by the Daily Mail as saying.
The Duke and Duchess subsequently cancelled the visit to the Akte ‘il Ha cacao farm, after a small protest Friday morning over what Kensington Palace called “sensitive issues” involving the local community.
“We can confirm that due to sensitive issues involving the community in Indian Creek, the visit has been moved to a different location,” a statement said.
The couple were due to tour the cacao farm during their first full day of their eight-day tour. But the indigenous Q´eqchi Maya people said they were not consulted about the visit.
Indian Creek is in dispute with Flora and Fauna International, (FFI), a conservation group that lists Prince William as a patron. FFI has property near the village’s communal land, which has caused tensions over ownership rights.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge arrived in Belize for their week-long tour of the Caribbean earlier today – their first joint overseas trip since the start of the pandemic.
The couple were all smiles as they stepped off the plane following an 11-hour flight from the UK.
They were welcomed by Belize’s governor general ahead of a meeting with Prime Minister Johnny Briceno. The royal couple were greeted by a guard of honour from the Belize Defence Force as they landed at Belize City’s Philip S. W. Goldson International Airport.
They will stay for three nights and then move on to Jamaica on March 22, followed by the Bahamas from March 24 to the 26th to mark the Queen’s jubilee.
In Jamaica, their visit will include engaging with the Jamaican Defence Force and celebrating the seminal legacy of Bob Marley and other ground-breaking Jamaican musicians.
The Cambridges’ royal tour will come to an end in the Bahamas where Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis’ parents will spend time with communities across a number of islands and experience the junkanoo parade.
The last senior royal to visit the Bahamas, Jamaica, and Belize was Prince Harry in 2012 as part of a Diamond Jubilee Tour. In addition, Princess Anne visited Jamaica and the Bahamas in 2015 and Prince Edward and Sophie visited the Bahamas in 2016.
The Caribbean visit will focus on causes that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge care about, including mental health and early childhood education. According to Kensington Palace, “Their Royal Highnesses are keen to understand more about the impact that the pandemic has had across the Caribbean, and how communities have pulled together to respond to the challenges they have faced.”
Barbados severed ties with Briain on Nov. 30, 2021, becoming a republic after almost 400 years of various forms of British rule.
Calls for Jamaica to become a republic especially intensified after Barbados left the Commonwealth and Jamaica’s prime minister Andrew Holness declared in December 2021 that “Jamaica has to become a republic.” Holness added, “We have put together a plan to move towards that in a way that is meaningful and substantial in function and form. That is what we are going to do.”
Belize’s leader, too, has spoken about the need for a change in government structure. Prime Minister John Briceño said in July 2021: “Probably one of the things we will be talking about in the near future [is] whether we want to stay with the parliamentary system, or do we want to go to a republican system, or find a hybrid between a parliamentary system and a republican system?”