Copyright 2013 by Teofilo Colon Jr. (a.k.a. “Tio Teo” or “Teofilo Campeon”) All Rights Reserved. Telephone: (646) 961-3674.
Guatemala, Central America — Happy Guatemalan Garifuna Settlement Day (November 26th)!!!
Garifuna Settlement Day is celebrated on November 26th in the Central American country of Guatemala. This Garifuna Settlement Day commemorates the arrival of Garifuna people to the country of Guatemala. Most of the Garifuna people who live in Guatemala live in the Garifuna town of Livingston (a.k.a. “La Buga”), Guatemala. Others live in Puerto Barrios, which is a town and port city in Guatemala.
I didn’t know the origins of Garifuna Settlement Day in Guatemala. However, the Garifuna Research website helps shed light on this special day in Guatemala.
According to the Garifuna Research website; Jose Felipe Mariano Galvez became the head of state of Guatemala in 1831. Mr. Galvez wanted to colonize parts of Guatemala (north Guatemala and eastern Guatemala) for European interests. He felt that those parts of Guatemala did not have many people and needed to be developed.
To that end, Mr. Galvez allowed the provinces of Peten and Chiquimula to be developed by the British, the Dutch and the Germans for business purposes. At the suggestion of Manuel Pineda de Mont, Galvez implemented the Livingston Codes; which were a set of new laws (and code of conduct) for prison reform and were created by Edward Livingston. Mr. Livingston was a United States politician (Mayor of New York City, U.S. Representative, Senator, and Secretary of State) and landowner.
In tribute to Mr. Livingston, Jose Felipe Mariano Galvez announced that a section of what was Chiquimula would be cut-off and used to form a new territory called Izabal. It’s head would be called “Livingston” and this was declared on November 26th 1831.
So November 26th marks the official naming of the settlement of Livingston, “LaBuga”, Guatemala. However, it was Garinagu who settled the land and made the land livable. They always called that town “La Buga”, a morphing of the Spanish term “La boca” (“the mouth” in Spanish). Indeed, the edge of Livingston opens up into the Gulf of Honduras.
Labuga was founded by the mysterious figure Marco or Marcos Sanchez Diaz. I’ve read various things about Marcos Sanchez Diaz and it’s been difficult getting a precise biography. Some say he was a Haitian general, others say he was a Garifuna (a.k.a. “Black Carib”) general (and buyei) in the armies of Garinagu fighting against the British in St. Vincent. Who knows?
Again, the Garifuna Research website tries to pin down who Marcos Sanchez Diaz was, but their conclusion is somewhat inconclusive. Honduran Garifuna Intellectual Salvador Suazo has also written about the ethnicity of Marco Sanchez Diaz as well. I have an essay by Mr. Suazo on this matter but do not have permission to post it. His website is currently inactive.
Anyway, as more information is unearthed; I hope to share the findings with readers of beinggarifuna.com
Garifuna Settlement Day is also celebrated in Belize and Nicaragua on November 19th, and the commemoration of the arrival of Garifuna people to Central America is April 12th. Garifuna Settlement Day is a public and bank holiday in Belize, the ONLY place in the world where this happens. After being forcibly removed from their ancestral land of St. Vincent by the British in 1796-1797, a convoy of boats filled with a little over 2,000 Garinagu left Baliceaux (a rock off the coast of St. Vincent) around March 11th 1797 and arrived in Roatan (a small island off the coast of Honduras) on April 12th 1797.
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– Teofilo Colon Jr.