By Marion V.Ali
The Garifuna community turned out in the hundreds on Tuesday night at Saint Martin de Porres Church in Belize City to celebrate the life of Andy Palacio, Belize’s former cultural ambassador, and artist for peace, as declared by UNESCO, on what would have been his 54th birthday.
Palacio, who took Belize’s punta music to the world stage, is regarded as someone who used music and culture to unite people from all ethnicities and walks of life.
At the mass on Tuesday, Father Larry Nicascio, urged the congregation to not only dance to the music and sing the lyrics of the songs that Andy left us, but to heed the underlying messages that are wrapped within them.
“We must pledge to embrace the challenge that Andy Palacio left for us…doing the work that’s necessary for us to continue to progress as a people”.
Palacio’s compadre, Raphael Martinez, made reference to the make-up of the Garifuna Collective, a world renowned band whose members include people from a number of ethnicities.
“Andy not only bridged the borders of nations to bring people together but he brought Garinagu and non-Garinagu together for a common cause. …Let’s not allow Andy’s effort to go down in vain. Let us show him that our culture will be preserved,” he urged.
Andy Palacio died in January 2008 a the age of 54, after suffering a massive a stroke.