Carnival Mas band leaders band together to sign Declaration of Peace and Safety Print E-mail
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Thursday, 07 September 2017 00:00

With the carnival road march quickly approaching, and the air of violence and debauchery not too far behind, members of the carnival world met on Wednesday, September 6, 2017, three days before, to settle on some agreements. The basis of the declaration is to assure peace among and between band leaders as well as revelers and, to some extent, spectators.

On behalf of the Belize Police Department, Desiree Phillips, Eastern Division Regional Commander, wants to assure the public that the department has already called for additional man power to quickly dissipate any unruly behavior. The duty of law enforcement officers is to promote safety and peace and that is the exact intention of the police department. Apart from an increase in man power, there will also be increased safety measures being carried out by additional patrolling officers.

Besides the police, Gregory Vernon, Chairperson on the Belize National Carnival Commission and co-chairperson on the National Celebrations Commission, also gave his take on the 42nd year of carnival. During the carnival celebrations, international as well as local visitors come to the city to participate in the festivities and it is especially important for safety and peace to be exercised in an effort to increase such visitors. The influx of spectators plays a significant role in our tourism and economy and while it is just for a single day of the year, that one day is also a day to express pride and culture.

Marie Murray, Head Judge in this year’s carnival, expressed that the 8 judges have a very difficult task before them and regardless of the results the leaders and revelers should participate with the intention to have fun and to be safe. She also pleaded with the Mas bands to be understanding of the results; they judge to the best of their ability and it should not be met with threats.

On September 2, 2017, the Carnival King and Queen competition took place and the results ignited a feud between the fans of Soca Moca and Belizean Jewel carnival bands. This caused a sense of alarm in participants but Sandra Mahler, President of the Belize Carnival Association, insists that those two groups and others have since met to squash any differences. “Saturday will be a proof of peace and unity in the name of creative expression.” The plea for peace applies to leaders, revelers, family members, and every other spectator especially since there will be young children who want to display their culture.

Leaders of several carnival groups, such as Soca Moca and Belizean Jewels, also pledged to keep the peace. After their pledge of peace, leaders from the 13 bands that will be participating signed a declaration of peace. By signing that declaration, the leaders are agreeing that their bands will exude sportsmanship while they are competing.

There were spaces for 14 signatures on the Declaration of Peace but, according to Marie Murray, there are no signs that the Pickstock Carnival Band will be participating in this year’s road march so for all intents and purposes, there are officially 13 bands participating.