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Baiting the British Bull: A Fiesta, Trials, and a Petition in Belize*

  • Rosemarie M. McNairn (a1)


In the study of colonial history the ability to discover the voice of the people is often hindered by the fact that most extant sources are archival, written by those who held power. In some instances mediated sources have survived which can be read as colonialist text, or can be read subversively, from the perspective of the colonized. Such is the case surrounding the events which began in May 1865 when a traditional Yucatecan religious festival was held in the Maya village of Xaibe, near Corozal in the Northern District of Belize (known at that time as British Honduras). The newly appointed British magistrate laid criminal charges against those celebrants who had engaged in the alleged cruelties of the vaquería or bullfights held in conjunction with the fiesta. In June, nearly four hundred residents of the District, “Persons of mixed Spanish and Indian descent and Indians,” petitioned the House of Assembly demanding redress from a magistrate who had, “systematically harassed and oppressed the people … prevented them from disposing of their commodities before the hours of service on Sunday mornings … and has endeavoured and partly succeeded in putting a stop to the festivities of one of their most sacred and cherished festivals.” The petition was rejected and colonial authorities challenged its authenticity, the integrity and character of the signatories, and the “alien” culture it represented.



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Research funding for this article was made possible by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. I express my appreciation to the staff of the Archives of Belize, especially Chief Archivist Charles Gibson. Thanks also to Susan Schroeder, Paul Vanderwood, Jeanne Doucette-Handerek, Matthew Restall, Susan Deeds, William French, Michael Phillips, and the anonymous reviewers—all of whom made helpful suggestions.



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1 The petition was printed in full in the colonial newspaper, The Colonist, 17 June 1865.

2 Geertz, Clifford H, Local Knowledge (New York: Basic Books, 1986), p. 69.

3 “Symbolic Dramas of Ethnic Stratification: The Yucatecan Fiesta System on a Colonial Frontier,” Papers in Anthropology, 22:1 (1981), 131–155, and 145. Ethnic and cultural identities are difficult at the best of times to define, but when two historiographical traditions (Mexicanist and Belizean) are juxtaposed the task becomes even more complex. A Creole in Yucatán in the nineteenth century was a native-born descendant of a Spanish ancestor and is used interchangeably with Yucatecan. Mexicanist historians see discernible distinctions among Yucatecans, Maya and mestizos. For the British in Belize, a Creole was a native-born descendant of an African ancestor and Yucatecan included both Creoles (Spanish) and mestizos; the Maya were referred to as Indians. Jones adopts the latter usage, although he refers to the Indians as Maya. I will do the same, although in the Xaibe case, the ethnic distinctions between the Yucatecans and the Maya become (at least temporarily) eroded, as I hope to demonstrate. Even in Yucatán, as Terry Rugeley points out, “Ethnic/cultural identities of Maya and Spaniard did indeed exist, but these were not separate as is often alleged, and in fact lent themselves to political interactions. Within certain ill-defined limits, then, people borrowed and adapted as they chose.” Rugeley, Terry, “Rural Political Violence and the Origins of the Caste War, The Americas 53:4 (April, 1997), 469496 and 476.

4 Bourdieu, P., Language and Symbolic Power (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991), pp. 109119.

5 British colonialists believed that their colony was in a state of transition, a view that has been accepted by most scholars of Belizean history. But as Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak suggests, if “moment(s) of change be pluralized and plotted as confrontation rather than transition the most significant outcome of this revision or shift in perspective is that agency is located in the insurgent or subaltern.” “Subaltern Studies: Deconstructing Historiography,” Subaltern Studies, 4 (1982–87), 330–363, and 330.

6 The literature on Belize includes Joseph, Gilbert M., “British Loggers and Spanish Governors: The Logwood Trade and its Settlements in the Yucatán Peninsula,” Parts I and II, Caribbean Studies 14:2 (July, 1974), 737 and 15:4 (January, 1976), 43–52; Nigel Bolland, O. and Shoman, Assad, Land in Belize, 1765–1871 (Institute of Social and Economic Research: Kingston, Jamaica, 1972); Bolland, , The Formation of a Colonial Society: Belize from Conquest to Crown Colony (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1977); Bolland, , “Labour Conditions irf Belize: The Century after 1838,” Belcast Journal of Belizean Affairs 1:1 (December 1984), 4854 ; Bolland, , “The Maya and the Colonization of Belize in the Nineteenth Century,” in Bolland, , Colonialism and Resistance in Belize: Essays in Historical Sociology (CUBOLA: Benque Viejo del Carmen, Belize, 1988), pp. 91115; Bolland, , “Systems of Domination after Slavery: The Control of Land and Labour in the British West Indies after 1838,” Comparative Studies in Society and History 23:4 (October 1981), 591619; Cal, Angel E., “Capital-Labor Relations on a Colonial Frontier: Nineteenth Century Northern Belize,” in Brannon, Jeffery T. and Joseph, Gilbert M., eds., Land, Labor, and Capital in Modem Yucatán: Essays in Regional History and Political Economy (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama, 1991), pp. 83106 ; Clegern, Wayne, British Honduras: Colonial Dead End, 1859–1900 (Baton Rouge: University of Louisiana, 1967); Drummond, D.E., “Independent Maya of the Late Nineteenth Century: Chiefdoms and Power Politics,” in Jones, Grant D., ed., Anthropology and History in Yucatán (Austin: University of Texas, 1977), pp. 103138 ; Bolland, , “Alcaldes and Reservations: British Policy towards the Maya in Late Nineteenth Century Belize,” América Indígena 47 (enero-marzo, 1987), 3375.

7 Standard accounts of the caste war are Reed, Nelson A., The Caste War of Yucatan (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1964); Navarro, Moisés Gonzalez, Raza y tierra: La guerra de castas y el henequén (Mexico City: El Colegio de México, 1970); Lapointe, Marie, Los Mayas rebeldes de Yucatán (Zamora: El Colegio de Michoacán, 1983). For more recent analysis of the caste war see Rugeley, Terry, Yucatán’s Maya Peasantry and the Origins of the Caste War (Austin: University of Texas, 1996); and “Special Issue: The Caste War Revisited,” The Americas 53:4 (April, 1997), Rugeley, Terry, “Preface”, pp. 613 and “Rural Political Violence and the Origins of the Caste War,” pp. 469–496; Reed, Nelson A., “Juan de la Cruz, Venancio Puc, and the Speaking Cross,” pp. 497524; Angel, Barbara, “Choosing Sides in War and Peace: The Travels of Herculano Balam Among the Pacíficos del Sur,” pp. 525550. For the religious practices of the Chan Santa Cruz, see Bricker, Victoria Reifler, The Indian Christ, The Indian King: The Historical Substrate of Maya Myth and Ritual (Austin: University of Texas, 1981). For an analysis of the symbolism of the cross both pre- and post-colonial, see Callaway, Carol H., “Pre-Columbian and Colonial Mexican Images of the Cross: Christ’s Sacrifice and the Fertile Earth,” Journal of Latin American Lore 15:2 (1990), 199231.

8 Angel, , “Choosing Sides in War and Peace,” pp. 531–2. British Superintendent Philip Wode-house acted as mediator in the negotiations. Among others, the pacíficos included the commu-nities of Chinchanhá, Macanche, Lochhá, Yakalcab, Mesapichh, Yakalzul and Xbusilákal.

9 Jones, Grant D., The Politics of Agricultural Development in Northern British Honduras (Winston-Salem: Wake Forest University), p. 10. Chinchanhá was a long established Maya community, ( Bolland, , “The Maya and the Colonization of Belize,” p. 96 ) but as Angel states in “Choosing Sides in War and Peace,” the “population of these communities was not exclusively composed of former Maya rebels, but included deserters from government troops, tax evaders, criminals, and fugitives from debt and conscriptions,” p. 534.

10 Icaiche remained a military threat until 1882. See Bolland, , The Maya and the Colonization of Belize, pp. 96100.

11 Austin To Eyre, 81R433, Dec. 15,1864. All archival sources cited are located in the Archives of Belize, Belmopan, Belize.

12 Austin to Eyre, 81R373-4, Aug. 12, 1864.

13 Census 1861. The population of Belize was 25,635; that of the Northern District was 14,308. The Corozal and New River area held 76 of the Hispanic and Maya population of the Northern District. The “white” population was about 300. Based on figures given by Austin (81R336, 26 May, 1864) it can be estimated that 29 percent of the northern population was Maya, nine percent Spanish and 50 percent mestizo.

14 Jones, , The Politics of Agricultural Development, p. 810; Bolland, , “The Maya and the Colonization of Belize,” p. 103.

15 Austin wrote, “I have in no way exaggerated the rising importance of that portion of the colony.” Austin to Eyre, 81R454, Feb. 14, 1865. For a discussion of British ambitions for Belize see Mcnairn, , “British Honduras as Jamaica: A Colonialist Re-Vision,” SECOLAS (Southeast Council of Latin American Studies) Annals, 25 (1994), 101119.

16 Batabs, pre-conquest authority figures were utilized by the Spanish as alcaldes. See Bolland, , “Alcaldes and Reservations,” 6567; and Moberg, Mark, “Continuity under Colonial Rule: The Alcalde System and the Garifuna in Belize, 1858–1969,” Ethnohistory 39:1 (1992), 119, esp. 15.

17 Cal, Angel E., “The Corozal (Goshen) Estate: 1819–1887,” Belcast Journal of Belizean Affairs, 1:1 (December, 1984), 4147 and 42.

18 Cal, , “The Corozal (Goshen) Estate,” p. 43.

19 Austin to Eyre, 81R392, 14 Sept., 1864.

20 Jones has reconstructed the Xaibe site and the preparations for the fiesta in his study “Symbolic Dramas,” pp. 136–7.

21 Adolphus to Austin, 89R42-3, 10 June 1865.

22 Notice, 89R5-6, 28 Apr. 1865 (in English and Spanish). Emphasis in the original.

23 Testimony of Staines, 82R524, 31 May 1865.

24 Xaive Fiesta Notice, 89R6-7, 4 May 1865. Emphasis in the original.

25 Adolphus to Austin, 89R20-2, 23 May 1865.

26 Jones, , “Symbolic Dramas,” p. 137.

27 This description of the mestesa was written into a report on the activities of Justice Parker during the fiesta. He had been crowned King and with a Yucatecan Queen and other female entourage, had purportedly disgraced the British community. His drunkenness resulted in the adjournment of a murder trial over which he was to preside. Schooles to Barlee, 124R250-5, 22 Mar. 1881. Jones, (“Symbolic Dramas,” p. 137) offers this description of the mestesa based on an account by Robert Redfield and Villa, Alfonso R.: “we may assume that the male dancers (vaqueros) were probably dressed as hacienda mayordomos and the women (vaqueras) as particularly well dressed mestizas but wearing men’s hats.” Chan Kom: A Maya Village (Washington, D.C.: Carnegie Institute of Washington, Publication 448, 1943), p. 158.

28 Testimony of Cinil, 82R521, 31 May, 1865.

29 Adolphus to Austin, 89R20-2, 23 May 1865.

30 Adolphus to Austin, 89R34-8, 6 June 1865.

31 Magistrate’s Judgment, 89R44, 12 June 1865. See also Adolphus to Austin, 89R20-2, 23 May 1865; 89R25-7, 2 June 1865; 89R34-8, 6 June 1865.

32 Adolphus to Austin, 89R20-2, 23 May 1865.

33 Adolphus to Austin, 89R20-2, 23 May 1865.

34 Declaration of Wardlaw, 89R54-5, 13 June 1865.

35 Declarations of Frederick Augustus Runnals, William Reginald McDonald, Robert Ross, Policarpoi Orio, Wardlaw, John Lewis Crequie, Manuel Salgero, Manuel Jesus Reyes, 89R48-58, 13 June 1865.

36 Regina vs Escalante and Rodriguez, 82R503-28, 30-31 May 1865.

37 Adolphus to Austin, 89R25-7, 2 June 1865.

38 Regina vs Escalante, 82R529, 1 June 1865.

39 Declaration of Reyes, 89R58, 13 June 1865.

40 Adolphus to Austin, 89R25-7, 2 June 1865.

41 Declaration of Taylor, 89R29-30, 2 June 1865.

42 Adolphus to Austin, 89R25-7, 2 June 1865. Jones’ assertion that “Adolphus held to the charge, and Bristowe was marched off to the police station,” is incorrect. Jones, , “Symbolic Dramas,” p. 143.

43 Adolphus to Austin, 89R34-8, 6 June 1865; Declaration of Wardlaw, 89R54, 13 June 1865.

44 Bristowe to Adolphus, Regina vs Escalante, 89R28, 2 June 1865.

45 Adolphus to Austin, 89R25-7, 2 June 1865.

46 Plues to Austin, 89R31-2, 4 June 1865.

47 Regina vs Williams, Thompson, House, Fife, Reed, 82R539-62, 5 June 1865.

48 Adolphus to Austin, 89R34-8, 6 June 1865; Regina vs Rey, Herrera, Rodriguez and Ca-petillo, 82R563-74, 7–9 June 1865.

49 Bristowe Defense, 82R571, 7 June 1865.

50 Testimony of José Domingo Andrade, Staines, José Asuncion Sansores, Francisco Carlos, 82R489-501, 29 May 1865.

51 Testimony of William C. Jones, 82R477, 29 May 1865.

52 Testimony of Staines, 82R495, 29 May 1865.

53 Testimony of Thomas Willoughby, 82R485, 29 May 1865.

54 Adolphus to Austin, 89R34-8, 6 June 1865.

55 Magistrate’s Judgment, 89R44, 12 June 1865.

56 Adolphus to Austin, 89R21, 23 May 1865. Declarations as to Carmichael’s activities at Xaibe were made by McDonald and Runnals, 89R48-51, 12 June 1865.

57 Adolphus to Austin, 89R42-3, 10 June 1865.

58 Declaration of Gasea, 89R65-6, 26 June 1865.

59 Adolphus to Austin, 89R42-3, 10 June 1865.

60 Blake to Austin, 89R40-1, 9 June 1865.

61 Adolphus to Austin, 89R42-3,10 June 1865. Among those present in Aguilar’s shop, Aguilar, Andrade, Antonio Novelo and Francisco Hernandez made declarations, 89R68-72, 28-9 June 1865.

62 Declaration of Novelo, 89R70, 18 June 1865.

63 Declaration of Indians, 89R 78, 29 June 1865.

64 Blake to Austin, 89R81-4, 29 June 1865.

65 Adolphus to Austin, 89R42-3, 10 June 1865.

66 Adolphus to Austin, 89R20-2, 23 May 1865.

67 Adolphus to Austin, 89R42-3, 10 June 1865.

68 Adolphus to Austin, 89R79-80, 29 June 1865. Emphasis in the originai. Adolphus noted that two of the most influential rancheros, Don Lucas Pasquez and Don Juan Carilla had received eviction notices and that Carmichael had threatened to close the road to Xaibe. Adolphus to Austin, 89R85, 30 June 1865. There is no record of this actually occurring.

69 Jones suggests that the crowding of the Indians at the courthouse was Carmichael’s doing, (“Symbolic Dramas,” p. 141). However, I find no evidence to support this contention.

70 Tarbutt to Adolphus, 89R48, 13 June 1865. Tarbutt’s words are ironic in that he was later tried for criminal negligence in the deaths of several Chinese indentured laborers who worked on his plantation at Santa Cruz. The charges “were not established to the satisfaction of a judge and jury,” although Austin was convinced of his guilt. Austin to Colonial Secretary, 92R413-4, February 1867.

71 Price to Darling, 68R301-3,1 July 1861. Before 1862 the Settlement of British Honduras was governed by a Superintendent.

72 There is no indication as to the original source of this article.

73 For more detailed analyses see Malcolmson, Robert W., Popular Recreations in English Society, 1700–1850 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1973); Dyck, Ian, William Cobbett and Rural Popular Culture (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992); Turner, James, Animals, Pain and Humanity in the Victorian Mind: Reckoning with the Beast (Johns Hopkins: Baltimore, 1980).

74 Malcolmson, , Popular Recreations, p. 138.

75 Cited in Malcolmson, , Popular Recreations, p. 153. To Malcolmson (pp. 155–56), the most important reason for discrimination was that “unlike the popular sports, the genteel diversions had been incorporated into a code of sensibility and refined manners. Moreover, while fashionable pleasures were typically private, enjoyed within the confines of a personal estate, the amusements of the people were normally on public display.”

76 This closed the loopholes of the 1835 Cruelty to Animals Act which declared illegal all baiting sports. Malcolmson, , Popular Recreations, note 124, p. 34.

77 Plues to Austin, 82R575, 12 August 1865.

78 17 June 1865.

79 The ban in the Federal District, Zacatecas and Vera Cruz occurred during Diaz’ first term of office (1876–1880). It was rescinded twenty years later. Beezley, , Judas at the Jockey Club and Other Episodes of Porfirian Mexico (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1987), p. 15.

80 The provision of refreshments at these functions was regulated by legislation, 29 Vict. C.21 s. 17, Belize, 1865.

81 Letter to the Editor, signed “Belize,” The Colonist, 17 June 1865.

82 Adolphus to Austin, 89R20-22, 23 May 1865.

83 Seymour to Darling, 65R105-201, Blue Book for 1858, 17 June 1859.

84 Cited in Bolland, , The Maya and the Colonization of Belize, p. 107. Labourers signed contracts with employers and were advanced part of their wages (the truck system), ostensibly to provision themselves for several months logging work in the bush. Contract signing was traditionally just before Christmas, thus the money more typically was spent in seasonal celebrations.

85 Sarchi to Austin, 89R73, n.d. (July 1865).

86 Price to Darling, 68R131-3, 3 May 1860.

87 Seymour to Darling, 65R105-201, Blue Book for 1858, 17 June 1859.

88 The proclamation was an attempt to entrench the 1863 ban issued by Lieutenant-Governor Seymour. See The Colonist, 17 June 1865 and also Testimony of Jones, 82R477, 29 May 1865. In 1864 Seymour was appointed Governor of British Columbia where he continued his efforts to “give” First Nations peoples the “benefits” of British “civilization” and like Adolphus sought “the vindication of the [British] law.” Loo, Tina, Making Law, Order, and Authority in British Columbia, 1821–1871 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1994), p. 152.

89 The exact role of the Icaiche community in Yucatán/Belizean history is still unexplored, but they seem to have been particularly hostile to the Xaibe Maya. Shortly before his death in 1872 ( a result of wounds in a battle against the British) Commandante Canul stole the Talking Cross from Xaibe and took it to Icaiche which was also a ceremonial center. The Angelus, 1895,87; cited in Jones, , “Levels of Settlement Alliance among the San Pedro Maya of Western Belize and Eastern Péten,” in Jones, , ed., Anthropology and History in Yucatán, p. 173.

90 Beezley, , Judas at the Jockey Club, p. 79.

91 Brandes, Stanley, Power and Persuasion: Fiestas and Social Control in Rural Mexico (Philadelphia, 1988), p. 182. This is an excellent analysis of the fiesta system in Mexico in all its aspects.

92 Testimony of Jones, 82R477-501, 29 May 1865. To the Yucatecans jurisdictional disputes amongst different levels of authority were a customary pattern of events in their history of colonization and probably something that could be played to their benefit.

93 Paz, Octavio, The Labyrinth of Solitude: Life and Thought in Mexico, Kemp, Lysander, trans., (New York: Grove Press, 1961), p. 51.

94 Brandes, , Power and Persuasion, p. 125.

95 Paz, , The Labyrinth of Solitude, p. 52.

96 Jones, , “Symbolic Dramas,” p. 138.

97 Testimony of John Gill; see also that of James Ware, Daniel Taylor, Nemesio Rivero, Escalante and Andrade, 82R489-533, 29 May 1865.

98 Beezley, , Judas at the Jockey Club, p. 16.

99 Adolphus to Austin, 89R20-22, 23 May 1865. On Thursday morning José Maria Sabido was fined $18 plus costs or three weeks public works for gambling at Xaibe.

100 Geertz, Clifford, “Deep Play: Notes on a Balinese Cockfight,” in The Interpretation of Culture (New York: Basic Books, 1973), 412–53; Beezley, , Judas at the Jockey Club, p. 4. According to Scott, James C. in Domination and the Arts of Resistance: The Hidden Transcript (New Haven: New Haven, 1990), 121ff, the hidden transcript consists of more than verbalization. It also includes symbolic acts, gestures and other rituals of resistance. For other earthy expressions and actions of protest in another nineteenth century British domain see Gallant, Thomas W., “Turning the Horns: Cultural Metaphors, Material Conditions, and the Peasant Language of Resistance in Ionian Islands (Greece) During the Nineteenth Century,” Comparative Studies in Society and History, 36:4 (1994), 702719.

101 Declaration of Taylor, 89R29-30, 2 June 1865.

102 Mexican fiestas are replete with animal metaphors and the fighting Toro represents argumentativeness. Brandes, , Power and Persuasion, p. 171.

103 See, for example, Hodge to Austin, 89R23, 26 May 1865; Tarbutt to Adolphus, 89R48-9, 13 June 1865.

104 Adolphus to Austin, 89R34-8, 6 June 1865.

105 Adolphus to Austin, 89R42-3, 10 June 1865.

106 Adolphus to Austin, 89R42-3, 10 June 1865.

107 Restall, Matthew, “‘He Wished It in Vain’: Subordination and Resistance among Maya Women in Post-Conquest Yucatán,” Ethnohistory 42:4 (Fall, 1995), 577–94, esp. 583–84.

108 Cited in Moberg, , “Continuity under Colonial Rule,” p. 15.

109 June 17, 1865. The hostility of The Colonist to the Assembly and Austin on this issue was still palpable over a year later. See the editorial in The Colonist on 23 June 1866. Petitions were also very much a part of British Caribbean society.

110 Price to Darling, 68R383, 17 August; 68R385, 3 September 1861.

111 Memorial to Austin, 89R174-8, 20 September 1865. The names on this petition headed by Thomas Gomez, included some of those known to have signed the June petition, as well as Blake and McDonald.

112 On May 17 incendiaries allegedly “conspired confederated and agreed together feloniously” to set fire to homes in Corozal, murder the inhabitants, and steal money and chattels. Plues to Austin, 98R179-80,27 September 1865. As the names of those who signed the Corozal Petition were not published in The Colonist and the petition itself does not survive, it is impossible to determine whether the deportees were signatories.

113 This declaration was signed by, amongst others, Carmichael (who had obviously realigned with Adolphus), Blake, Aguilar, Orio, and Gomez. The boundaries of resistance constantly shift, just as universal cohesion amongst the colonizers is mythical. In the face of an external threat (the Maya of Icaiche), colonizer and colonized alike join forces. For a discussion of the problematic of resistance studies see Ortner, Sherry B., “Resistance and the Problem of Ethnographic Refusal,” Comparative Studies in Society and History, 37:1 (1995), 173193.

114 Italics indicate the text of the petition. The Colonist, 17 June 1865.

115 Emphasis in the original. 17 June 1865.

116 Although certainly there was tension and stratification within the subordinate society, Jones’, statement that “the petitioners identified themselves as Mayas and Yucatecans” is incorrect. “Symbolic Dramas,” p. 143. I note these discrepancies not in a Rankean zeal for accuracy but because I believe they are important in the interpretation of these events.

117 As Brantlinger states in his study of the British in Africa, “Racism often functions as a displaced or surrogate class system, growing more extreme as the domestic class alignments it reflects are threatened or eroded. As a rationalization for the domination of ‘inferior’ peoples, imperialist discourse is inevitably racist; it treats class and race terminology as covertly interchangeable or at least analogous.” Brantlinger, Patrick, “Victorians and Africans: The Genealogy of the Myth of the Dark Continent, ”Critical Inquiry, 12 (Autumn, 1985), 166203, esp. 181–2.

118 Price to Darling, 68R135, 3 May 1860.

119 Seymour to Eyre, 81R5, 30 August 1862.

120 British Honduras Colonist and Belize Advertiser, 4 January 1868.

121 British Honduras Colonist and Belize Advertiser, 28 April 1866.

122 In 1872, the Maya were sequestered onto small reserves. Bolland, , “The Maya and the Colonization of Belize,” p. 87.

123 Austin to Eyre, 81R335-6, 26 May 1865.

124 Austin to Storks, 1865 Blue Book, 92R259-60.

125 Laborers were also imported from Barbados in 1864 and plans were underway for East Indian migrants. Under the Immigration Act, the Chinese were to be paid eight dollars a month, compared to the rate of four dollars per month for Maya workers. Especially interesting of the Chinese of Belize is that in July 1866,120 of them escaped and joined the Santa Cruz Maya. See McNairn, “Light of the Age: Chinese Emigration to British Honduras, 1865,” paper presented at the annual meeting of the Rocky Mountain Council on Latin American Studies, Vancouver, Canada, February, 1993. The hostility of the Yucatecans and Maya towards the Chinese would later be repeated in Mexico where Mexicans also resented their displacement by a Chinese labor force. See Hu-Dehart, Evelyn. “Immigrants to a Developing Society: The Chinese in Northern Mexico, 1875–1932,” Journal of Arizona History, 21 (1980), 275312.

126 Jones, , “Symbolic Dramas,” p. 145.

127 Scott, Domination and the Arts of Resistance. Just as in Belize, in England the quest for popularity and the necessity to ensure a contented labor source, led many landlords to act as patrons of popular amusements. Malcolmson, , Popular Recreations, pp. 67–9. The possibility also exists, and is probable, that many of the elite enjoyed these amusements.

128 Testimony of Andrade, 82R489, 29 May 1865. Emphasis added.

129 Sunday markets were condemned throughout the British Caribbean, but to slaves and to Maya producers in Central America, they were a customary privilege which allowed for a measure of economic independence. In the British sugar island of Antigua, legislation in 1831 abolished the right of slaves to market their goods on Sunday. This action was resisted and the specter of slave revolt was raised. See Gaspar, David Barry, “Slavery, Amelioration, and Sunday Markets in Antigua, 1823–1831,” Slavery and Abolition, 9:1 (1988), 128. After emancipation in British colonial possessions in 1837, opposition to Sunday markets continued, based both on Sabbatarian grounds and on the resultant economic independence which made Creoles reluctant to labor on plantations.

130 For a description of labor control in Belize see Bolland, , “The Maya and the Colonization of Belize,” pp. 8891.

131 The economic importance of women to the community had already been demonstrated by the donation of two bulls at Xaibe by the widow Cinil.

132 Rugeley, , “Origins of the Caste War,” p. 476.

133 The Colonist, 17 June 1865.

134 Magistrate’s Judgment, 89R44, 12 June 1865.

135 Adolphus to Austin, 89R42-3, 10 June 1865.

136 Declarations of Pedro Rosado, 89R97, 3 July 1865 and Escolastico Real, 89R98, 30 June 1865. Rosado admitted to reading only the beginning and, similarly, Real stated that the beginning was read to him and others. The entire document was read at Aguilar’s. Declaration of Andrade, 89R70, 28 June 1865.

137 Adolphus to Austin, 89R42-3, 10 June 1865.

138 Declaration of Indians, 89R78, 29 June 1865.

139 Adolphus to Austin, 89R42-3, 10 June 1865.

140 Declaration of José Pilar Gasea. 89R65-6, 26 June 1865. He declared that “the Paper handed to me was a Petition addressed to the Assembly praying for some alteration of the law which pressed so heavily on the people with regard to not being allowed to sell their goods on Sunday and not being allowed to celebrate their religious feasts without intervention. There were also many observations reflecting on the conduct of the magistrate as to his imposition of heavy fines and oppressing the people otherwise, and it referred likewise to the Police acting as spies under him.”

141 Declaration of Gasea, 89R77, 29 June 1865.

142 Adolphus to Austin, 89R34-8, 6 June 1865.

143 Longden to Graham, 100R157-60, 4 August 1868.

144 Plues to Austin, 82R575, 17 August 1865. Even amongst the British there were ethnic hierarchies, and British meant English, not Scottish or Irish.

145 Plues to Austin, 82R575,17 August 1865. Jones does not mention the reversal of the Xaibe convictions.

146 Jones, , “Symbolic Dramas, ” p. 150.

147 Plues to Austin, 89R115, 13 July 1865. In 1866 eleven men were deported from the colony. Adolphus to Austin, 89R87, 20 July 1866.

148 Cal, , “The Corozal (Goshen) Estate,” p. 43.

149 Austin to Eyre, 81R374-5, 26 May 1864.

150 “preface,” p. xiii.

151 4 January 1868.

* Research funding for this article was made possible by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. I express my appreciation to the staff of the Archives of Belize, especially Chief Archivist Charles Gibson. Thanks also to Susan Schroeder, Paul Vanderwood, Jeanne Doucette-Handerek, Matthew Restall, Susan Deeds, William French, Michael Phillips, and the anonymous reviewers—all of whom made helpful suggestions.

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