Tuesday, November 19, 2013


The story of the Gariganu (plural of Garifuna) begins almost 400 years ago, when South American Carib Indians migrated to the Caribbean island of St. Vincent in order to subdue and discipline the native Arawak Indian islanders. Then in 1635, when two Spanish ships shipwrecked in the area, carrying hundreds of indentured Nigerians, many of the surviving slaves were able to seek refuge on the island among the Carib-Arawak population. This event further added to the genetic mergence of St. Vincent's ethnic population. Anthropologists recognise the Garifuna as a product of 'voluntary assimilation', which indicates the peaceful creation of this new ethnic group, but the ensuing years of searching for a homeland saw very little peace for the Garifuna. Picture: Garifuna Drummers Dangriga Town, Belize. In 1660, a British peace treaty guaranteed the "perpetual possession" of the island to the Garifuna, but less than a decade later, the British broke the treaty and re-claimed the island as a colonial possession. However, by the mid 1700s (following several generations of prolific reproducing by the Garifuna), it became increasingly aware that the Garifuna were such a demographic force on St. Vincent, that they threatened to jeopardise the inherent success of a colonial mission, and the British sent more and more representatives to the island to subdue the native Garifuna. In 1796 as the Garifuna desperately sought a solution to their imminent enslavement, an intended raid became a defeat for the Garifuna, and the minority of survivors were deported to the Honduran island of Roatán. The Garifuna flourished and multiplied, and thus when they were again forced to flee following republican revolt in Honduras, they continued their epic exodus in even greater numbers. In 1832, led by the charismatic and ambitious Alejo Beni, a group of Garifuna arrived on the southern Belizean coastline. It is this miraculous marine arrival that is celebrated every November in various Garifuna areas, including Dangriga, Seine Bight, Hopkins and Punta Gorda in southern Belize. What should be remembered of this era is that, for centuries, the Garifuna people had faced persecution, injustice and demoralization, and yet they still arrived in Belize with an optimistic ambition to serve their 'new' homeland and to develop their 'new' nation. In 2001, UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) declared the Garifuna culture a "Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity" – in much the same way as various local marine areas (including several ranges of Cayes) were latterly classified as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Picture Above: Garifuna Settlement Day Queens in southern Belize in traditional Garifuna dress. Thomas Vincent Ramos Thomas Vincent Ramos was born on 17th September, 1887 at Tulin, Puerto Cortes in the Republic of Honduras. Ramos married Elisa Marian Fuentes in 1914 and they migrated permanently to Dangriga, Belize around 1920. While in Belize, Ramos became a school teacher but he was also a visionary leader. He founded the famous Carib Development and Sick Aid Society (C.D.S) and later Carib International Society (C.I.S). Both spread and were established in all Garifuna communities throughout Belize, and the C.I.S had affiliations as well in Guatemala and Honduras. Thomas Vincent Ramos had serious concerns about the systematic neglect and the need for improvement of the health facilities for Garinagu in Dangriga. Up to that time, there was not a single Garifuna nurse working in the entire Stann Creek District. So Ramos lobbied and agitated that Dangriga get its native nurses to serve its citizens in the Dangriga hospital. The colonial authorities finally capitulated and granted the request. But T.V Ramos was also concerned with the promotion and preservation of the Garifuna cultural heritage. To that end, he dedicated his talent, time and effort so that in 1940, as leader and spokesman, along with Pantaleon Hernandez and Domingo Ventura, T.V Ramos petitioned the British Governor of the colony and requested the establishment of a Public and Bank Holiday in observance of the Garifuna arrival to Belize on November 19th. The request was granted and official celebration of the 19th November as a public and bank holiday began in Stann creek district on November 19th, 1941. Two years later in 1943, Punta Gorda, in the Toledo District, was given the Holiday, and in 1977, Garifuna Settlement Day became officially a Public and Bank Holiday throughout Belize. Picture Below: Garifuna Settlement Day Mass in Dangriga, Stann Creek District Belize. The mass follows immediately after the early-morning re-enactment of the arrival of the Gariganu in Belize. The mass is held at the Roman Catholic Church and is celebrated in the Garifuna language with traditional Garifuna Music, drums, and dress. The Founder of Garifuna Settlement Day - T.V. Ramos Thomas Vincent Ramos was born on 17th September, 1887 at Tulin, Puerto Cortes in the Republic of Honduras. In 1917 he married Elisa Marian Fuentes. In 1923 he arrived in Belize and resided in Dangriga. Thomas Vincent Ramos will be remembered as a voluntary Social worker. In 1924 he founded the Carib Development Society; one of the aims of the society is to help those who are sick and to assist those who need financial assistance to bury their dead. The Carib Development Society own 800 acres of land at Sarawee in the Stann Creek valley. This portion of land was called Carib Reserve. On the 24th January, 1926 he was registered as a member of the Arrival Fund Committee which was founded for the benefit of all Caribs in Central America. He founded two other societies for the benefit of Caribs. He started the celebration of Carib Settlement Day in Stann Creek in 1941, and this was extended to the Caribs in Toledo in 1943. Thomas Vincent Ramos died at the age of 68 on 13th November 1955. Each year since 1956 a torch light parade is held in his honour. He was buried on 14th November, 1955. Contributed by Adele Ramos & E. Pridgeon

Monday, January 21, 2013



Thursday, November 17, 2011


It is thought that cane sugar was first used by man in Polynesia from where it spread to India. In 510 BC the Emperor Darius of what was then Persia invaded India where he found "the reed which gives honey without bees". The secret of cane sugar, as with many other of man's discoveries, was kept a closely guarded secret whilst the finished product was exported for a rich profit.

It was the major expansion of the Arab peoples in the seventh century AD that led to a breaking of the secret. When they invaded Persia in 642 AD they found sugar cane being grown and learnt how sugar was made. As their expansion continued they established sugar production in other lands that they conquered including North Africa and Spain.

Sugar was only discovered by western Europeans as a result of the Crusades in the 11th Century AD. Crusaders returning home talked of this "new spice" and how pleasant it was. The first sugar was recorded in England in 1099. The subsequent centuries saw a major expansion of western European trade with the East, including the importation of sugar. It is recorded, for instance, that sugar was available in London at "two shillings a pound" in 1319 AD. This equates to about US$100 per kilo at today's prices so it was very much a luxury.

In the 15th century AD, European sugar was refined in Venice, confirmation that even then when quantities were small, it was difficult to transport sugar as a food grade product. In the same century, Columbus sailed to the Americas, the "New World". It is recorded that in 1493 he took sugar cane plants to grow in the Caribbean. The climate there was so advantageous for the growth of the cane that an industry was quickly established.

By 1750 there were 120 sugar refineries operating in Britain. Their combined output was only 30,000 tons per annum. At this stage sugar was still a luxury and vast profits were made to the extent that sugar was called "white gold". Governments recognised the vast profits to be made from sugar and taxed it highly. In Britain for instance, sugar tax in 1781 totalled £326,000, a figure that had grown by 1815 to £3,000,000. This situation was to stay until 1874 when the British government, under Prime Minister Gladstone, abolished the tax and brought sugar prices within the means of the ordinary citizen.

Sugar beet was first identified as a source of sugar in 1747. No doubt the vested interests in the cane sugar plantations made sure that it stayed as no more than a curiosity, a situation that prevailed until the Napoleonic wars at the start of the 19th century when Britain blockaded sugar imports to continental Europe. By 1880 sugar beet had replaced sugar cane as the main source of sugar on continental Europe. Those same vested interests probably delayed the introduction of beet sugar to England until the First World War when Britain's sugar imports were threatened.

Today's modern sugar industry is still beset with government interference at many levels and throughout the world. The overall pattern can be seen by investigating the mid 1990s' position in the map. Annual consumption is now running at about 120 million tons and is expanding at a rate of about 2 million tons per annum. The European Union, Brazil and India are the top three producers and together account for some 40% of the annual production. However most sugar is consumed within the country of production and only approximately 25% is traded internationally.

One of the most important examples of governmental actions is within the European Union where sugar prices are so heavily subsidised that over 5 million tons of white beet sugar have to be exported annually and yet a million tons of raw cane sugar are imported from former colonies. This latter activity is a form of overseas aid which is also practised by the USA. The EU's over-production and subsequent dumping has now been subjected to GATT requirements which should see a substantial cut-back in production over the next few years.

What we call sugar, the chemist knows as 'sucrose', one of the family of sugars otherwise known as saccharides in the grouping called carbohydrates. Carbohydrates, as the name implies, contain carbon and hydrogen plus oxygen in the same ratio as in water. The saccharides is a large family with the general formula CnH2nOn. The simplest of the sugars is glucose, C6H12O6, although its physical chemistry is not that simple because it occurs in two distinct forms which affect some of its properties. Sucrose, C12H22O11, is a disaccharide, a condensation molecule made up of two glucose molecules [less a water molecule to make the chemistry work].

The process whereby plants make sugars is photosynthesis. The plant takes in carbon dioxide from the air though pores in its leaves and absorbs water through its roots. These are combined to make sugar using energy from the sun and with the help of a substance called chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is green which allows it to absorb the sun's energy more readily and which, of course, gives the plants' leaves their green colour. The reaction of photosynthesis can be written as the following chemical equation when sucrose is being made:

12 CO2 + 11 H2 O = C12 H22 O11 + 12 O2
carbon dioxide + water = sucrose + oxygen
This shows that oxygen is given off during the process of photosynthesis.

Historically, sugar was only produced from sugar cane and then only in relatively small quantities. This resulted in it being considered a great luxury, particularly in Europe where cane could not be grown. The history of man and sugar is a subject in its own right but suffice to say that, even today, it isn't easy to ship food quality sugar across the world so a high proportion of cane sugar is made in two stages. Raw sugar is made where the sugar cane grows and white sugar is made from the raw sugar in the country where it is needed. Beet sugar is easier to purify and most is grown where it is needed so white sugar is made in only one stage.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


On July 26th, 1956, Egyptian leader Gamal Nasser nationalized the Suez Canal.

Sunday, June 20, 2010


Sunday June 20, 2010

Today is Sunday, June 20, the 171st day of 2010 with 194 to follow.

This is Father's Day.

The moon is waning. The morning stars are Neptune, Mercury, Jupiter, Saturn and Uranus. The evening stars are Venus and Mars.

This Day in History, June 20
On June 20th, 1214, the University of Oxford received its charter.

Other Notable Events, June 20
In 1893, a jury in Fall River, Mass., found Lizzy Borden not guilty in the ax murders of her father and stepmother.

In 1898, the U.S. Navy seized Guam, the largest of the Mariana Islands in the Pacific, during the Spanish-American War. The people of Guam were granted U.S. citizenship in 1950.

In 1900, in response to widespread foreign encroachment upon China's national affairs, Chinese nationalists launched the so-called Boxer Rebellion in Beijing.

In 1963, the United States and the Soviet Union agreed to establish a hot line communications link between Washington and Moscow.

In 1967, the American Independent Party was formed to back George Wallace of Alabama for president.

In 1977, oil began to flow through the $7.7 billion, 789-mile Alaska pipeline.

In 1990, U.S. President George H.W. Bush broke off U.S. diplomatic contact with the Palestine Liberation Organization after the PLO refused to act against a factional leader who plotted to attack Israel.

In 1991, the German parliament voted to move its capital from Bonn to Berlin.

In 1994, O.J. Simpson pleaded "100 percent not guilty" to charges he killed his ex-wife and her friend.

In 1995, a military court acquitted Air Force Capt. James Wang of charges in the April 1994 downing of two U.S Army helicopters over Iraq. He was the senior director of an AWACS plane that failed to warn two U.S. jets that the choppers were friendly.

In 1997, four major U.S. tobacco companies and several state attorneys general, after months of negotiations, agreed to a $368.5 billion settlement to recover the costs of smoking-related illnesses.

In 1999, NATO formally ended its bombing campaign of Yugoslavia as Serb forces completed their withdrawal from Kosovo.

In 2000, Taiwan's new president invited his Chinese counterpart to take part in a peace effort similar to one begun by North and South Korea.

In 2003, up to 200 illegal immigrants were feared dead after their boat capsized off the coast of Tunisia on its way to Italy.

In 2004, Pakistan and India reached agreement on banning nuclear testing.

In 2006, former White House official David Saravian was convicted on four counts of lying to investigators and obstruction of justice in dealings with lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

In 2007, U.S. President George W. Bush blocked legislation to permit federal funding for stem cell studies. He vetoed a new proposal to lift restrictions on funding for the research.

Also in 2007, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak ordered the military to allow the evacuation of busloads of fleeing Palestinians from the Gaza Strip into Israel.

In 2008, the U.S. House of Representatives passed an updated wiretapping law that includes protection from civil suits for telecommunications companies.

Also in 2008, the U.S. military appears to have misplaced hundreds of nuclear missile components, officials reported. The Financial Times said one U.S. Defense Department official cited more than 1,000 parts that cannot be accounted for.

In 2009, Iraqi insurgents, striking in a series of attacks as U.S. troops pulled out of Iraq as planned, set off a truck bomb near a Shiite mosque in northern Iraq, killing 82 people and injuring 250.

Also in 2009, authorities reported at least 19 protesters were killed as demonstrations continued in the aftermath of the Iranian presidential election.

And, U.S. President Barack Obama said drug makers and congressional leaders had agreed to a plan to reduce prescriptions drug costs for many American seniors.

Notable Birthdays for June 20
Those born on this date include:
- James VI of Scotland, later James I of England, in 1566
- French philosopher and mathematician Blaise Pascal in 1623
- The Duchess of Windsor, born Bessie Wallis Warfield, in 1896
- Moe Howard, leader of the Three Stooges, in 1897
- Bandleader Guy Lombardo in 1902
- Baseball legend Lou Gehrig in 1903
- Former U.S. Sen. Alan Cranston, D-Calif., in 1914
- Film critic Pauline Kael in 1919
- Actress Nancy Marchand in 1928
- Actress Gena Rowlands in 1930 (age 80)
- Author Salman Rushdie in 1947 (age 63)
- Actress Phylicia Rashad in 1948 (age 62)
- Singer Ann Wilson of Heart in 1950 (age 60)
- Actress Kathleen Turner in 1954 (age 56)
- Singer Paula Abdul in 1962 (age 48)

Copyright 2010 by United Press International

Saturday, June 19, 2010


Saturday June 19, 2010

Today is Saturday, June 19, the 170th day of 2010 with 195 to follow.

The moon is waning. The morning stars are Neptune, Mercury, Jupiter, Saturn and Uranus. The evening stars are Venus and Mars.

This Day in History, June 19
On June 19th, 1870, the Confederate States of America were dissolved.

Other Notable Events, June 19
In A.D. 325, the early Christian church opened the general council of Nicaea, which settled on rules for computing the date of Easter.

In 1787, the U.S. Constitutional Convention voted to strike down the Articles of Confederation and form a new government.

In 1846, two amateur baseball teams played under new rules at Hoboken, N.J., planting the first seeds of organized baseball. The New York Nine beat the Knickerbockers, 23-1.

In 1856, the first Republican national convention ended in Philadelphia with the nomination of explorer John Charles Fremont of California for president. James Buchanan, a Federalist nominated by the Democrats, was elected.

In 1867, Austrian Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian, installed as emperor of Mexico by French Emperor Napoleon III in 1864, was executed on the orders of Benito Juarez, the president of the Mexican Republic.

Also in 1867, the first running of the Belmont Stakes took place at Jerome Park, N.Y.

In 1905, Pittsburgh showman Harry Davis opened the world's first nickelodeon, showing the silent Western film "The Great Train Robbery." The storefront theater boasted 96 seats and charged 5 cents and prompted the advent of movie houses across the United States.

In 1910, Spokane, Wash., marked the first Father's Day.

In 1943, World War II's Battle of the Philippine Sea began, as Japan tried unsuccessfully to prevent further Allied advancement in the South Pacific.

In 1953, convicted spies Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were executed.

In 1977, Elvis Presley made his final live concert recordings at a series of appearances in Nebraska. He died two months later.

In 1987, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the 1981 Louisiana law that required schools to teach the creationist theory of human origin espoused by fundamentalist Christians.

In 1991, the U.N. Security Council unanimously approved a plan to prohibit the export of military supplies to Iraq.

In 2000, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that prayers led by students at public high school football games aren't permitted under the constitutional separation of church and state.

In 2005, a suicide bomber killed at least 23 people, including some Iraqi police officers, in a crowded Baghdad restaurant. The next day saw suicide car bombers kill a reported 26 policemen and security forces in Baghdad and Irbil.

Also in 2005, opponents of Syrian domination won a majority of seats in the final round of Lebanon's parliamentary elections.

In 2007, 10,000 U.S. and 3,000 Iraqi troops launched a major offensive targeting the Sunni jihadist terrorist group known as al-Qaida in Iraq in Iraq's Baquba area.

In 2008, Sen. Barack Obama, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, became the first at that level to bypass public financing since the program was established. Obama said he believed the move would provide better resources to defend his campaign from attacks by Republicans.

In 2009, Hawaii was placed under heightened missile and other defense fortification, including mobile and ground-based interceptors, to deter any possible North Korean attacks, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said.

Also in 2009, two U.S. service members, an Army major and an Air Force master sergeant, pleaded guilty to bribery, fraud and conspiracy charges involving defense contracts in Afghanistan.

And, British World War I veteran, Henry Allingham, who turned 114 on June 6, 2009, was recognized by the Guinness World Records as the world's oldest man. He died about six weeks later.

Notable Birthdays for June 19
Those born on this date include:
- James VI of Scotland, later James I of England, in 1566
- French philosopher and mathematician Blaise Pascal in 1623
- The Duchess of Windsor, born Bessie Wallis Warfield, in 1896
- Moe Howard, leader of the Three Stooges, in 1897
- Bandleader Guy Lombardo in 1902
- Baseball legend Lou Gehrig in 1903
- Former U.S. Sen. Alan Cranston, D-Calif. in 1914
- Musician Lester Flatt in 1914
- Film critic Pauline Kael in 1919
- Actress Nancy Marchand in 1928
- Actress Gena Rowlands in 1930 (age 80)
- Myanmarese Nobal Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi in 1945 (age 65)
- Author Salman Rushdie in 1947 (age 63)
- Actor Phylicia Rashad in 1948 (age 62)
- Musician Nick Drake in 1948
- Musician Ann Wilson of Heart in 1950 (age 60)
- Actress Kathleen Turner in 1954 (age 56)
- Singer Paula Abdul in 1962 (age 48)
- Political commentator Laura Ingraham in 1964 (age 46)
- Actress Mia Sara in 1967 (age 43)
- Actress Robin Tunney in 1972 (age 38)
- Actor Paul Dano in 1984 (age 26)

Copyright 2010 by United Press International

Copyright 2010 by United Press International