Frantz Smith

Phone:(+501) 631-6472

Email [email protected]

Marilynn Tulcey

Phone:(+501) 605-8088

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Emily Martinez Palacio

Phone:(+501) 630-0572

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The Mestizo

Belize has always accepted people who were escaping from wars in the nearby countries. After the Garinagu, the second culture which was sought a peaceful home in Belize was the Mestizo. By definition, Mestizos are people of a mixed European and Indigenous Maya blood. The first Mestizos were the children of a Spanish soldier named Gonzalo Guerrero and Sasil Ha, the daughter of a Maya chief by the name of Na Chan Kan.

In the middle 1800s, the indigenous Maya of southern Mexico had rebelled against the Mexican republic because of various grievances. These grievances included forced labor and appropriation of lands. These Spanish demands were remnants of a system which required the Maya to pay tribute to the Spanish settlers. This was not accepted by a growing number of Mayas who rebelled violently in 1847. What resulted was the Caste War of Yucatan. As a consequence of this, the Maya sacked Bacalar and killed many of its inhabitants in 1847 and 1857. In response to the violence which erupted, Maya and Mestizos left Mexico for Belize starting in 1847. They settled in places like Corozal, Orange Walk and San Estevan in the north of Belize. Other places where the refugees settled included San Antonio and Soccutz in the Cayo District.

Apart from their staple foods, the Mestizo immigrants to Belize brought knowledge of sugarcane production. This was because local cultivation of sugarcane boomed in the Yucatan in the early 1800s. This was in order to replace supplies from Cuba which became unreliable after the movement of Mexico towards independence from Spain. Starting around 1847, immigrants from Mexico were able to bring knowledge of sugarcane agronomy as well as experience with animal powered wooden cane mills to Belize.

According to the Colonial Guardian of the 1902, the first farmer to begin growing sugarcane commercially in Belize was a man by the name of Don Justo Rejón. By 1851, Don Justo was renting lands to establish Santo Tomas estate paying $5 per 100 mecates (≈ 13 acres) of land to the landowner, Mr. James Welsh. In 1852 Mr. Welsh sold the land to Mr. James Hume Blake who had business relationships with the Santa Cruz Maya as well as the Spanish/Mexican Settlers. Captain Hugh Wilson also sold land to J. H. Blake who welcomed refugees to settle and work his Pembroke Hall and Goshen Estates. Independent farmers also planted cane in Corozal soon after settling. By 1856, Juan Eduardo Carillo was also producing sugar at Rancho San Roque near Xaibe; Juan de la Cruz Ramirez was working his San Francisco Estate, Manuel Lizzaraga worked Rancho San Jose and Nicolas Aguilar managed Aventura Estate.

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