(BRITISH HONDURAS) 1871 – 1964
Honduras Británica fue la antigua denominación de una colonia británica establecida en Centroamérica, en los territorios que en la actualidad constituyen Belice, Islas de la Bahía (Honduras) y La Mosquitia (Honduras y Nicaragua). Los primeros colonizadores llegaron en 1638, y fue disputado por los británicos y españoles. Fue una colonia de la Corona entre 1871 y 1964, cuando obtuvo un autogobierno.
El nombre del territorio cambió a Belice en 1973. Belice consiguió la independencia en 1981 y los territorios de Islas de la Bahía pasaron a pertenecer a la República de Honduras y La Mosquitia se dividió entre las repúblicas de Honduras y Nicaragua.
British Honduras was the name of a territory on the east coast of Central America, south of Mexico, after it became a British Crown colony in 1862. In 1964 it became a self-governing colony. The colony was renamed Belize in June 1973 and gained full independence in September 1981. British Honduras was the last continental possession of the United Kingdom in the Americas.
The Treaty of Versailles (1783) between Britain and Spain gave the British rights to cut logwood between the Hondo and Belize rivers. The Convention of London (1786) expanded this concession to include the area between the Belize and Sibun rivers. In 1862, the Settlement of Belize in the Bay of Honduras was declared a British colony called British Honduras, and the Crown’s representative was elevated to a lieutenant governor, subordinate to the governor of Jamaica.
The origins of the independence movement also lay in the 1930s and 1940s. Three groups played important roles in the colony’s politics during this period. One group consisted of working-class individuals and emphasised labour issues. This group originated with Soberanis’s LUA between 1934 and 1937 and continued through the GWU. The second group, a radical nationalist movement, emerged during World War II.
Its leaders came from the LUA and the local branch of Marcus Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association. The group called itself variously the British Honduras Independent Labour Party, the People’s Republican Party, and the People’s National Committee. The third group consisted of people who engaged in electoral politics within the narrow limits defined by the constitution and whose goals included a “Natives First” campaign and an extension of the franchise to elect a more representative government.
In 1947 a group of graduates of the elite Saint John’s College won control of the Belize City Council and started a newspaper, the Belize Billboard. One member of this group, George Cadle Price, topped the polls in the 1947 election when he opposed immigration schemes and import controls and rode a wave of feeling against a British proposal for a federation of its colonies in the Caribbean.
Price was an eclectic and pragmatic politician whose ideological position was often obscured under a cloak of religious values and quotations. He has remained the predominant politician in the country since the early 1950s.
British Honduras faced two obstacles to independence: British reluctance until the early 1960s to allow citizens to govern themselves, and Guatemala’s complete intransigence over its long-standing claim to the entire territory (Guatemala had repeatedly threatened to use force to take over British Honduras). By 1961, the United Kingdom was willing to let the colony become independent.
From 1964 the UK controlled only defence, foreign affairs, internal security, and the terms and conditions of the public service. On 1 June 1973, the colony’s name was changed to Belize in anticipation of independence. After 1975 the UK allowed the colonial government to internationalise its case for independence, so Belizeans participated in international diplomacy even before the territory became an independent state.
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