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History of Immigration to Ambergris Caye (Part Four) -Benqueños

By Angel Nuñez

By now you are realizing that San Pedro is a product of immigrants. We have traced all the way to 1200 to the days of the Mayas and then to 1848 when the Mestizos immigrated to the Island.  From there it was just over one hundred years that the community of San Pedro remained a closed community with Mestizo families coming from Mexico and Corozal. In the 1940’s Sanpedranos made a stronger turn to fishing and by 1964 they had organized themselves to form the Caribeña Fishing cooperative Society Limited.

Caribeña concentrated in the export market and soon was exporting frozen fish, lobster, conch, fish, fillet, and shrimp to the United States.  There was a processing plant with huge freezers where the product was stored until a full shipment was ready for export. Caribeña employed a team of some twenty five girls who processed the marine products earning good hourly wages.

Sanpedranas working at the co-operativeHowever in the middle of the 1970’s the tourism industry started growing by leaps and bounds.  There was a need for girls to provide all the necessary services in hotels and restaurants. At this time the local girls working at the fishing cooperative started opting for these tourism related jobs and left for the hotels.  This was a serious situation for the fishing cooperative that was at the peak of its export potentials.  They needed man power which the young la dies provided and the men were not willing to do because they earned better wages fishing for lobster.

Suddenly someone had the solution.  They encouraged a group of Benque girls to come work at Caribeña fishing cooperative.  There being a shortage of jobs in Benque, soon some 25 Benqueñas were attracted to San Pedro and here was the next set of immigrants coming this time from the Cayo District. In a sense they were immigrants even though they were local Belizeans because they were a group of people coming from a different district to settle in San Pedro.

These Benque girls fit well in San Pedro.  There was a need for them.  They were friendly and pretty and soon some of them were marrying in San Pedro and making this community their home.  Then came their mothers and brothers looking for job opportunities or to form their families.  Then came the cousins and nephews.  Soon San Pedro was well populated with Benqueños working in the fishing industry, hotels and even in construction.  Thus another episode of immigration to San Pedro Ambergris Caye which continues up until today I imagine with well educated young people looking for job opportunities in the tourism industry.

25 Years Ago Books Can Be Purchased At:
-Ambergris Today -Lala’s Store -Chico’s Meat Shop -Pampered Paws -Ambergris Jade -San Pedro BTB Office -Aquarious Salon (Kim) -S.P. Town Library -Di Bush -Richies Stationery -San Pedrano’s Stationery

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