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Belize « Gonzo Comix and Tours |

Archive for the ‘Belize’ Category

“Sonata In Primeval Sounds” by Kurt Schwitters @ Final Fridays Open Mike Night June 26th

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

Final Fridays Open Performance Salon

Final Fridays Open Performance Salon

Dada artist Kurt Schwitters’s classic “Sonata In Primeval Sounds,” also called “Ursonate,” is performed by Andy Laties, Rebecca Migdal and drummer Eric Blitz, with Lead Parachute (John Landino, Denis Luzuriaga, and Glove) plus special guest, invented-instrument-maker Mitch Ahern, as part of GonzoQuest’s Final Fridays Open Mike Night, on Friday, June 26th at 8pm, Paper City Studios, 80 Race Street, in Holyoke. The open mike, interspersed with “Ursonate” movements, features performance poets, artists with slideshows, and musicians: sign up at 7:30pm.

Published in 1932, Kurt Schwitters’s “Sonata In Primeval Sounds” is the granddaddy of sound-art poems: a 45-minute nonsense opus that develops 26 abstract themes in classical sonata format. Andy Laties’s rousing participatory interpretations were honored in Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art’s major “Chicago Artists 1945-1995″ retrospective.

GonzoQuest is a comics journalism publisher and reality travel company encouraging community economic development through self-expression.

Ana and the Calabash in full color- now at RosettaStoneComic.com

Saturday, May 2nd, 2009

Ana and the Calabash- now in full color! Click to read the comic at RosettaStoneComic.com

Ana and the Calabash- now in full color! Click to read the comic at RosettaStoneComic.com

 Ana and the Calabash is a fictional story based on real events in the Toledo district of southern Belize. To learn more about Maya land rights read our Manifesto.

Ana and the Calabash

Sunday, October 5th, 2008

One morning, when Ana went to pick beans in her parent's milpa, she heard a loud noise...

One morning, when Ana went to pick beans in her parent's milpa, she heard a loud noise...

Papa spoke politely to the driver of the bulldozer, asking him to please stop destroying their farm.

Papa spoke politely to the driver of the bulldozer, asking him to please stop destroying their farm.

Introducing a new feature comic from Gonzo Comix. Ana and the Calabash was created by Rebecca Migdal for the Julian Cho Society of Toledo District, Belize.

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New Video: Oil and Bridges

Friday, September 26th, 2008

Hapless tourists travel through southern Belize toward Punta Gorda, the “forgotten district”, often over unpaved roads and log causeways. Bridges have been damaged or destroyed in flooding caused by unregulated development. Andy Laties is very funny! Interview with barrier reef park ranger Oliver Garbutt, about oil drilling, and the new road being built by Kuwait. A film by Rebecca Migdal. Two parts, about 5 minutes each.

Part 2 features awesome footage of cars being towed across stream by bulldozer, and getting stuck. Then Andy does a very funny Monty Python style political comedy monologue. Just watch it!

Gonzo On Tour!

Friday, September 26th, 2008

The Lord of Xibalba chases Ana, trying to get back the magic Calabash Head.

The Lord of Xibalba chases Ana, trying to get back the magic Calabash Head.

Gonzos Andy and Rebecca are going on the road, as an opening act for Seth Tobocman’s “Disaster and Resistance” book tour. Music by Steve Wishnia and Eric Blitz of the IED’s, with Andy on winds. Art by Seth Tobocman and Rebecca Migdal, and video too! It’s going to be great! Here’s where you can catch the show in September:

Friday Sept. 26 7 pm
Wooden Shoe Books, 508 S. 5th St., Philadelphia

Saturday Sept 27, 3 pm
Baltimore Book Fair, Radical Book Fair Tent
Mount Vernon Place, 600 block of North Charles Street;
Monument Circle-West

Sunday Sept. 28, 6 pm
Chop Suey Books 1317 W. Cary St. Richmond, VA 23220

E Pluribus Unum in Belize

Sunday, September 7th, 2008

We’ve heard that the Maya are opposed in their land rights battle by the many other ethnic groups in Belize, since supposedly offering communal tenancy in the Toledo rainforest means that non-Maya would be denied the right to equal opportunity of utilizing that land via leasing it from the government. However in this article from the newspaper Amandala, the basis for mutual aid among the various Belizean ethnicities is drawn based on a common history of European oppression.

“It is not politically sensible for us at this newspaper to support the Maya against the majority, oligarchical position, but Amandala does so support the Maya. We have always fought against the European-inspired idea that our African and Maya ancestors were savages and barbarians and cannibals. On Partridge Street, we are allies of the Maya. We have the same enemies that the Maya do - modern, rapacious, murderous capitalism introduced by the Europeans and sustained by the neo-Europeans.
“The Europeans and the neo-Europeans will say that ours is a racist position. So what do you think was the position of the Europeans where the Africans and the Maya were concerned? We were murdered and raped because we were Africans and Maya. If we Africans side instinctively with the Maya because we have been victims of the same imperialist process, and you then call that “racist,” then you can call it anything you wish. We stand with the Maya, come hell or high water.

Genius, Breathtaking and Strange: Classic Maya Painting (Reviews)

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2008

A captive swoons at the feet of the ruler Chaan Muan in this mural from Bonampak, Chiapas

A captive swoons at the feet of the ruler Chaan Muan in this mural from Bonampak, Chiapas

Painting the Maya Universe: Royal Ceramics of the Classic Period

During our jaunt to Belize we ventured into the Peten region of Guatemala, where we witnessed the soaring monuments of Tikal. On our way back to our hotel, we purchased a soaring pile of books, two of which I’ll review here.

Painting the Maya Universe: Royal Ceramics of the Classic Period
by Dorie Reents-Budet; Duke University Press

Pre-Columbian Painting-Murals of the Mesoamerica

Pre-Columbian Painting: Murals of the Mesoamerica

by Beatriz de la Fuente, Tatiana Falcón, Maria Elena Ruiz Gallut, Felipe Solis, Leticia Staines Cicero, Maria Teresa Uriarte, under the auspices of Instituto de Investigaciones Esteticas, UNAM and Consejo Nacional para la Cultura ya las artes; 1999, Editoriale Jaca Book Spa. Milan

Cylindrical vase depicting a lady encircled by a snake

Cylindrical vase depicting a lady encircled by a snake

Painting the Maya Universe: Royal Ceramics of the Classic Period
by Dorie Reents-Budet; Duke University Press

This is a delicious book that ought to be on the shelf of any lover of pre-Columbian art, or of comics, fashion, spirituality or history. If you’re like me, you’ll open its pages again and again, just to feast your eyes on the lavish photographs. Exquisitely drawn, ornate costumes and outrageous mythical beasts make for fascinating art. However, as you delve deeper into the material the sacrificial rites, and tributary gifts of enema pots or penis perforators, might freak you out a little. Still, if you’re like me, you’ll want to understand more about the colorful, if grim, spiritual practices depicted on the pottery.

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Great Barrier Reef Off Limits To Oil Drilling, So, Why Not Belize’s Reef?

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2008

A sign along the Southern Highway in Toledo District betrays the extent of "benefits" received by the GOB in return for oil concessions.

A sign along the Southern Highway in Toledo District betrays the extent of "benefits" received by the GOB in return for oil concessions.

I find the likelihood of an environmental catastrophe based on an oil-spill to be by far the largest risk Belize faces. I think that all the players — rich and poor — face the same risk. This is why I think that it may possibly be averted. Because Belize depends on tourism, and tourism is famously an industry that can be wrecked by freak events. The second longest barrier reef in the world!! I simply cannot understand why the Belize Government and the tourism industry — top to bottom, big companies and small operators, catering to 600,000 visitors each year, many of whom come for the diving –aren’t now fixated on a fear of damage to the reef.

Imagine — a stream of supertanker traffic off Livingston, Guatemala — and a hurricane comes through. It just seems like supertanker traffic means that inevitably, in the ensuing decade, there will be one or more oil spills. When a supertanker breaks open in rough seas — goodbye tourist traffic. For a long time. No-one predicted what happened to the Exxon Valdez.

So the solution is that the story has to be taken international. This amazing coral reef in Belize is one of the Western Hemisphere’s treasures. The oil industry doesn’t want anyone to realize they are poised to drill right next to the reef.

Here’s an op-ed piece from an Australian newspaper, in which a major oil industry executive says that there should be lots of new oil drilling in the offshore waters of Australia. EVEN THIS MAJOR BOOSTER OF OIL DRILLING SAYS:

“the Australian oil and gas industry believes that such areas as Ningaloo Reef and the Great Barrier Reef are sacred and should be protected….Australia has more than enough frontiers far from our iconic attractions to explore.”

http://www.smh.com.au/news/opinion/bring-home-the-search-for-oil/2008/06/23/1214073146212.html

So – these top oil industry people in Australia would certainly also say that it’s not smart to drill near a major reef system such as the one in Belize.

Ecologist Warns of Threats to Belize Reefs, Forests

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2008

Dr. Colin A. Young

Dr. Colin A. Young of Galen University, San Ignacio, Belize

In a paper published on March 3 of this year, prominent Belize ecologist and professor, Dr. Colin A. Young warns that unregulated development threatens the fragile ecosystems of that country.

Belize’s Ecosystems:
Threats and Challenges to Conservation in Belize

Abstract: “Belize, for its small size, is remarkably diverse ecologically and culturally. However, its forests and marine resources are under significant threat, mainly from high deforestation rates, improper solid waste management, rapid coastal development, increasing poverty, weak institutional and legal frameworks, and the recent discovery of sweet crude oil. Sustainable solutions to these challenges will require innovative, practical, and cost-effective strategies that involve all stakeholders and that seek to improve the socio-economic conditions of these stakeholders. Belize’s network of protected areas must be managed transparently, utilizing best management practices and informed by applied scientific research, if the biodiversity they contain is to be maintained.”

Dr. Young cites land tenure reform as a primary goal in halting deforestation, which is occurring in Belize at a rate double that of Central America as a whole. Dr. Young points to the impact of increasing numbers of illegal immigrants arriving from Guatemala, placing particular emphasis on socioeconomic factors that contribute to failures in ecological conservation:

“Poverty exacerbates environmental degradation because disadvantaged populations have more urgent concerns than implementing conservation practices. Any attempt to conserve the natural environment in these ecologically sensitive areas must include innovative solutions to improve the socio-economic conditions of the communities that buffer these areas. “

According to Christine Halverson, Interim Director of The Rainforest Foundation US, regions which have been demarcated for communal tenancy by indigenous populations, in Brazil and worldwide, exhibit the lowest deforestation rate, as compared to privately owned, government owned lands, parklands and nature preserves.

To read Young’s article in full, go here.

Wednesday August 27, Punta Gorda Town, Belize -Update

Wednesday, August 27th, 2008

“…It is not the view of the government that that judgment applies to all the villages….the first case…was not vigorously argued by the Government’s side….When next this matter comes to court it is going to be vigorously argued.”

Belize Attorney General Wilfred Elrington, June 13, 2008

“…The people of Golden Stream have customary rights to these lands, and the fact that the government has never recognized or respected our rights to this land, and therefore never granted any legal title to those lands to these people, should not cost them their right to those lands.”

Cristina Coc, Maya Leader, Executive Director of the Julian Cho Society, Belize, June 13, 2008

These excerpts are from a radio program on Belize Love FM radio, transcribed here.

A Maya Girl of Blue Creek, Toledo District plays with her pet parrot.

Melissa Coc of Blue Creek, Toledo District plays with her pet parrot.

The Maya of Toledo remain at risk. Their farms are being bulldozed, in the village of Golden Stream and elsewhere, by government-sanctioned developers. Indigenous rights are being eroded; meanwhile the Kuwaiti-sponsored roads that will facilitate oil drilling in the region will be completed within the year. Most residents of the area have accepted the assurances of the government that environmental impact studies are enough to insure that the destruction of agricultural and natural resources just won’t happen, and that oil development will bring prosperity to the local economy. If only this were true! Similar cases throughout the world, from Nigeria to Ecuador, have invariably been launched with the same credulous enthusiasm. The results have not been economic security for local communities, nor the careful protection of the environment. Instead, there have been the inevitable land grabs and corruption, the theft of resources and the disempowerment of local voices. If the Maya leaders’ voices are not heard and respected, outsiders will profit while indigenous communities are forced to subsist in toxic wastelands.

The delicate loveliness of the coastal reefs and rainforests here are fragile ecosystems. Their beauty alone gives them intrinsic value, while they harbor rare and endangered species of wildlife, and provide a livelihood for the equally rare and endangered human communities that live sustainably among them. In addition, the potential value of the medicinal herbs and the historical archaeological sites that are still being discovered and explored, is unfathomably rich. And finally, so long as tourism is the primary legitimate economic engine in Belize, the choice to place at risk the natural resources that sustain the tourist trade is a shortsighted one, and can only be explained as self-interest in the short term, by those in power and by those who hope in vain to benefit.

Stay tuned for a more detailed narrative of this important struggle for indigenous rights and the environment in Belize.