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Belize’s Tribute to Andy Palacio

He was the most interviewed Belizean, the most photographed, the most internationally recognized, the most locally loved, and now the most grieved for. More or less one week of national mourning for Andy Palacio culminated on Saturday, January 26 in his home village of Barranco with a massive state funeral.

A memorial service was held at the Bliss Center on Friday, January 25 and a motorcade through the city streets followed. Thousands came out at noon to see the hearse of this people’s hero proceeded through the city’s streets to the municipal airstrip. A large crowd in the thousands sang along as artists like Adrian ‘The Doc’ Martinez and Aurelio Martinez, Lloyd and Reckless, and other artists performed. The concert lasted just under an hour and the Belize City audience remained energetic.

The next day thousands more thronged to Barranco Village where the flag flew at half-mast. In the tent outside it was like a party as the Garifuna Collective entertained. But it was a funeral – and inside the church where traditional elements was mixed with a catholic funeral.

“Andy has touched the hearts and the minds of Belizeans all over this country. Andy, deep down, was a teacher.” Commented Prime Minister Said Musa. “He was a teacher not only for the Belizean children but a teacher to the world because he taught the world, through his music, about peace and about love and he taught us all about these things. And today we join him in his final forthcoming.”

Rafael Martinez, Andy’s Best Honored, commented, “He lives in all of us so share the Andy Palacio experience. His favorite song was Amyegu, and Amyegu, for those of us who have read the English version of it, it tells and advocates for the Garifuna young men, women, children to nurture and cherish the language, to be very much aware of the Garifuna culture.”

And during the funeral a very touching moment which broke most hearts and left everyone in tears was when his son Kamao Palacio, sang his dad’s favorite song, Amyegu.

A very touched Yasser Musa commented, “In Belize City you stretched back with your guitar and told the people, ‘I am going home to Barranco.’ You are home my friend. We didn’t want you to come home this way. I am sorry Cleopha but this is how it is. I did all I could. Ask Mike, I did…no fancy machine, no modern medicines, no fast jet planes, could stop the wishes of your ancestors’ music man.”

And that’s the spirit that the crowd took into the procession. And amidst those drums his body was lowered into the vault. NICH has established special account that will be used for the Andy Palacio Education Trust in support of his children. All those interested in contributing to the trust fund can contact NICH. NICH is pledging $10,000 to the trust fund and asks all friends and supporters of Andy Palacio to make a contribution no matter the amount. The account is Andy Palacio Trust Fund – Belize Bank – 226236. (photos provided by Yolanda Parham)

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