Saints, Shamans, Sacraments, and Syncretism

In the middle of virtually every Maya town and village in Mexico and Guatemala is the Catholic Church. It’s often the largest building in town, and it’s often on the highest point, reflecting the Spanish colonists’ desire to impose their religion on the natives and dominate them (spiritually and physically). Continue reading

Homosexuality in Belize, and Why I’m a Criminal

As I mentioned in my last post about Minister Louis Farrakhan, during his recent visit to Belize he did tone down his conservative (or as I see it, racist and homophobic) rhetoric.  But one thing he did have a none-too-subtle attack on was religion’s favourite scapegoat, homosexuality.  He described governments’ and people’s acceptance of same-sex relationships as “sanctioning something that God don’t sanction”, and berated Belize for bowing to foreign pressure and becoming “a whore to American aid”!  And he echoed many religious leaders around the world (including those in Belize) when he said that ordinary people should be afraid of the LGBT “agenda”.  Another ‘conspiracy’ to keep the paranoid minister awake at night… Continue reading

Battle of the (Belizean) Sexes

This is a tricky one.  I’ve wanted to write something about Belize’s men and women, and their gender issues, for a while now, but it’s so complicated, and so wrapped up in so many other issues, that I never did start.  Plus, I didn’t want to offend some (or maybe most!) of the population of the country that I live and work in.  But a few months ago, over the annual carnival weekend, I saw yet more Belizean men rubbing themselves up against Belizean women in an orgy of what I would describe as dry-humping (but what they call dancing), while at the same time having yet more locals inform me of their religious devotion, and then tell me that all gay people are evil and weird.  Plus, my ex-colleague Ruth let me in on a disturbing statistic – Belize has an adolescent fertility rate of 8% (in other words, there are 80 births per 1000 women aged 15-19 per year – which means that up to 40% of 19-year-old women have at least one child).  The adolescent fertility rate in the UK and the US is 3% (which is still considered high), and it’s just 1% in Canada. Continue reading