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Mexican First Lady visits Belize

Photo: (l-r) Hon. John Briceno, Prime Minister of Belize and Mexican First Lady, Dra. Beatriz Gutiérrez Müller

by Kristen Ku

BELIZE CITY, Tues. Apr. 18, 2023

Motorists who were on any of the main roads in Belize City on Tuesday morning between the rush hours of 7:00 a.m. and 9:00 a.m. found themselves stuck in a two-hour-long road blockage as police blocked certain roads in preparation for the arrival of the Mexican First Lady, Dra. Beatriz Gutiérrez Müller, who was escorted through the city from the Philip Goldson International Airport (PGIA).

Dra. Müller, the spouse of the President of Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, visited Belize on Tuesday, April 18, for a special ceremony for the handing-over of equipment and books for Belize from Mexico at the Belize City House of Culture. These pieces of equipment, which also included a Bookeye 5v5 overhead book scanner, were donated to the country as part of an effort to assist in the preservation of the historical archives in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Upon landing, Dra. Müller briefly met with the Prime Minister of Belize, Hon. John Briceño, in the VIP room of the PGIA, before being escorted along with her delegation to the House of Culture on Tuesday morning.

There she was met by Belize’s First Lady and Special Envoy for the Development of Families and Children, H.E. Mrs. Rossana Briceño; the CEO of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Science and Technology, Mrs. Dian Maheia; and Dr. Louis Zabaneh, Minister of State in Education, Science, and Technology.

This was her second visit to Belize, following her first trip in May 2022, when she accompanied her husband as part of a five-day tour of Latin America, and during which he signed numerous agreements with Belize, particularly on agricultural development, trade, and tourism. The trip also served to strengthen the strong ties between both countries.

Dra. Müller similarly expressed her wish to strengthen ties between Belize and Mexico.

“We belong to a community that has similar histories. Historical events are very important in our sharing of history. The native ones and those who came to America to conquest, to live and even to spoil. So, the heritage we have in this continent is very, very long,” Müller remarked in her speech, adding “history is not only a social discipline; history is a teacher.”

At the ceremony, the equipment was presented, and a letter of intent was signed between both countries.

“Historic preservation is a deep and meaningful conversation about our past which in turn influences key aspects of our future. It is an opportunity for future generations to understand and appreciate the significant events, people, and stories that shape Belize’s history,” stated Special Envoy Briceño upon the handing over of the equipment.

The ceremony culminated with a performance by a traditional Mariachi band from Mexico who appeared to surprise the attendees and celebrate the achievement at the end.

Maheia, who made reference to “the exclamation point to why we have to recognize history, why we have to preserve history, why we have to document history,” also noted what this meant to the House [of Culture].

“A visit like this serves to reinforce, to cement actually, the over 40 years of really excellent relationship between Belize and Mexico. We’re grateful for this gift. We’re grateful for the fact that it recognizes the importance of protecting, preserving our history, our culture, our historical bibliography,” said Maheia.

In regard to the usefulness of the scanner, Maheia emphasized, “The Archives has so many documents, documents from the 1800s that need to be scanned and properly preserved. A donation like this is well over $30,000 for the machine itself; to have the training, the technical capacity building that goes along with it is really important. Just now, our Museum of Belize has five projects that they can think about that they need a scanner for right off the bat.”

The Mexican First Lady as part of her Caribbean tour will also be visiting Jamaica, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and the Dominican Republic.