Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Barranco Mourns the Loss of Its Native Son

Andy Palacio was born in the tiny village of Barranco, in southern Belize near the border with Guatemala. With a tiny population of less then 250 people, Barranco remains a stronghold of Garifuna culture, and until a road was built to the village recently, the only way to reach it was by boat.

In November, Andy traveled by boat to Barranco with an entourage of journalists from around the globe to accept his designation as a UNESCO Artist for Peace. He was greeted on the dock by a group of drummers and dancers who paraded him into the village square to honor him. Two short months later, Andy is returning to Barranco by boat, this time to be buried in the village that taught him what it means to be Garifuna. Here is a picture of Andy at the UNESCO award ceremony.

The day Andy died, a shipment arrived of 10,000 posters that had previously been ordered by the Ministry of Culture to celebrate Andy’s UNESCO Artist for Peace designation. In the photo, school children in Barranco hold up Andy Palacio’s poster. It is a bittersweet tribute to a great man.

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