Monday, February 22, 2010

Felix Cal a Maya from San Miguel village does not agree with being declared POOR because of his lifestyle.

** Typical Maya thatch house made from jungle materials.

In the Maya World of living in the remote jungle clad slopes of the Southern Mayan Mountains of the Belize Alps, they live almost a cashless society. Except for kerosene, candles, matches, machetes, files and rubber boots and the occasional pots and pans, the MAYA feed themselves. The staple is corn and red kidney beans. They grow other things as well. They usually sell excess corn for cash and sometimes cacao. Some even try growing rice. $600 Bz or $300 usa a year would be good enough cash flow income. They also live in supportive clan groupings and each home is a three generational home compound either on the farms, or in small villages. In the USA you would call the MAYA survivalists. How to live off nature without money for the most part. This life style of subsistance farming is usually by choice.

San Miguel Village
Toledo District
February 7, 2010

Dear Editor:

Please allow me to share my personal views relating to the article: “Over 50,000 more poor — Belize City Southside, Toledo poverty rates, highest in Belize”, appearing on the front page of the Amandala dated, Sunday, January 31, 2010.

I write in regards to the Poverty Assessment that was released to determine our poverty rate in this country. I am concerned as absolutely no one has ever approached to question me pertaining to such a survey, so that my status can be determined as poor.

I am a Kekchi Maya, and it has become the norm that anyone who sees us, they have a set perception of us being deemed to be labeled as poor. What a shame and disgrace! Is it because we are being taken for granted that we are silent?

As I kept reading the article, it states and I quote, “Throughout the study,” says the report,” Belize City’s Southside and Toledo kept emerging as being concentrations of poverty and other social issues, particularly violent crime; and Toledo because of the very high incidence of poverty, its isolated location in the south of the country, and its population dominated by the indigenous Maya”.

The last statement in bold has struck me to the heart, and has disgusted and frustrated me, and that is my reason for sharing my personal view on this matter. Clearly, I can see that this statement is a real attack on us because of our indigenous status. And I daresay that it is misleading and mischievous at its highest level.

We, the Maya (Kekchi & Mopan) in Toledo, have been labeled for centuries as poor people. It now worries me that every time a poverty assessment is being carried out, the outcome is poor, and I am afraid that the generation to come might have this mentality, “Maya = poor,” because this is the sensational tune in Belize.

We, the Maya, perceive ourselves as the richest people in this country, even though we may not have three- four-storey buildings, own cars, hold full time jobs, etc. But yet we are living humbly with other ethnic groups, sharing resources with each other, and we govern ourselves accordingly, (probably unknown to some) and because of this, crime is down among us.

Agricultural subsistence farming is done to ensure that every day meals are being put on the table and as you heard, recession has popped out its big ugly head but guess what, the hard working Maya farmer is not and will not be affected. The education system has taken root and many of our Maya children are excelling at the primary school level, high school level and even at the tertiary Institutions.

Every year, thousands of tourists from around the world come to vacation in our midst, and our old and retired teachers from other ethnic groups who have taught in our villages have been ringing the bell and sharing the same sentiments that “WE THE MAYA ARE NOT POOR.”

I have the same perception as well, because the family structure is rich and very well attached. We have the evergreen rainforest to boast about, which in turn sustains our livelihood; we have our traditional healers who help us when someone gets bitten by snakes. (Rarely do you hear a Maya going to the hospital due to a snake bite.)

How many times have you heard of a lost Maya child? How many murders are happening among the Maya? How many of our children are not enjoying meals three times a day? How many Maya are homeless, or sleeping on the street sides? How many of my people are seen on the streets with their long arms stretched out asking for a dollar? How many times have you heard the Maya committing burglary? And the list can go on. I will leave you to do math, and I can guarantee you that you share the same perception as mine, but yet, the Maya is tagged as being poor.

How much longer will we as a people continue to accept whatever they perceive us to be, knowing that it is truly the opposite? I encourage others to share their views to let them stop calling us the Maya people poor.

Is that the reason why they want to plunder and rape our rainforest so as to take advantage of us? I believe not, as that will never happen again in this time and age. If you perceive us to be (POOR), then do something about it and stop singing the same old tune over and over.

(Signed) Felix Cal
University student

In the world of Belize Civil Service Bureaucrats and politicians, the system of declaring the Maya poor is so GRANTS can be solicited from foreign institutions in industrialized societies, which are totally CASH societies. They do not understand lifestyle subsistance survivalist choices. The incoming MONEY is then able to be spent on CIVIL SERVANTS as salaries to help the poor. Only NGO's truly help the poor, NEVER the bureaucrats and politicians. ( opinion! )

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