The government’s decision to return October 12 to the list of public holidays for 2022, to be celebrated as “Dia de la Raza”, has drawn criticism from the United Democratic Party (UDP), which says the people should be consulted about these changes.
The UDP, via a press release issued on Monday, says it “is an affront to the sensitivity of the history between Spain and Indigenous Peoples”.
“Dia de la Raza” is Spanish for the “Day of the Race.” Indigenous people understand it to mean their race, but the UDP objects to the name as an attempt to glorify Spain’s colonial conquest and brutality against Indigenous Peoples. The UDP release says, “The term was originally coined in Spain in an attempt to change the narrative of the effects of brutal conquest and the resultant separation of indigenous peoples, mixed peoples, and Spanish peoples. The name then commemorated Christopher Columbus’ contact with the Western World as well as attempt to celebrate heritage, colonization, and cultural diversity.
For this reason, the UDP has put forward an alternative name for the holiday, “Indigenous People’s Day,” a truer reflection of the values upheld by a modern, civilized world and a fitting cause for celebration by all Belizeans. The UDP noted that in Venezuela the holiday is observed as “Dia de la Resistancia Indigena” or “The Day of Indigenous Resistance”, and in Peru it is “Día de los pueblos originarios y el diálogo intercultural” or “Indigenous Peoples and Intercultural Dialogue Day.”
The UDP went on to call on the government “to go back to the drawing board, seek consultation, and to properly consider a name that is informed by truth and facts, and which does not offend Indigenous Peoples, including Mayans and Mestizos.
The removal of Commonwealth Day, May 24th, also drew the UDP’s criticism, as it celebrates Belize becoming a part of the British Commonwealth of Nations upon our Independence in 1981. The UDP again objects that this should not be decided without a national consultation.