Happy 39th Independence Day Belize!

Sep 21, 2020

As Belize celebrates its 39th year of independence we look for reasons to be cheerful in The Jewel during a bad year.

Last week, five countries in Central America celebrated their 199th anniversaries of independence from Spain. To honor that, we tried to find reasons to be cheerful during a, let’s face it, shitty year in Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala.

As Belize celebrates its 39th anniversary of independence from the British today, it’s only fair we do the same.

The most positive thing we can say about Belize on its 39th birthday is also the most important. Belize has, by far, the best record against COVID-19 than any other country in Central America.

If you’re in Belize and you’re angry about how the government has handled COVID, handled the lockdown, the unemployment, the whole situation, I get it. But I promise you, it’s better in Belize than any other country in Central America.

It’s always been better in Belize than elsewhere. Belize was the last country in the region to confirm a case of the virus. It went for almost two months without a confirmed case while the rest of the region suffered.

And even now, it’s looking like Belize is coming over the top of its COVID curve quicker than anyone else. Belize is also by far the lowest in Central America with its case-per-million and death-per-million numbers.

You might look at Our World In Data or Worldometer and see Nicaragua’s numbers are lower, but that’s bull. Nicaragua lies about its COVID numbers. This is why we haven’t included it in the above charts. Belize is in the best COVID-19 shape in Central America, hands down.

Another reason to be cheerful in Belize is the community spirit we’ve seen since the pandemic started.

There’s no doubt that wiping out 40% of its economy in one stroke when it closed its borders to tourism devastated Belize.

No country in Central America relies more on the tourist dollar than Belize, not even Costa Rica. Belize has seen massive unemployment across the board this year. The economy contracted by over 23% between April and June.

Plenty of other countries would have buckled under strain like this, but not Belize. We’ve received so many messages asking us to mention various causes and programs people in Belize are running to help out their neighbors.

Honorable mentions go out to Jim Lynsky at the Lazy Lizard on Caye Caulker and Brian Montgomery at Sirenian Bay in Placencia. Both these guys have shown how indomitable communities in Belize can be under enormous pressure and adversity.

And so, yeah, although things are rough in Belize right now on this independence day, there are reasons to be cheerful. In 9 days the airport reopens, bringing Belize back into the fold as a tourist destination. That’s a positive step.

Things will be slow, for sure. But Belize will bounce back.

Belize has a lot to look forward in its 39th year and beyond. For one thing, a heck of a party next year for its 40th. That’s when life begins, after all, right?

Happy Independence Day Belize!

James Dyde is the editor of centralamerica.com. He lives in Escazu, Costa Rica.