did you first come to Belize, under what circumstances did you
arrive and personally become involved with the concerns of the
people of Belize?
Emory King: After visiting
Dry Tortugas at the end of the Florida Keys and Havana, we went
to Progreso, Yucatan, Mexico. A wind storm pursued us from there
to Isla Mujeres. Two weeks there and we went south. Passing
Cozumel I asked the captain where we were going next. He said
Belize. I said I'm tired of Mexico. He said Belize is a town
in British Honduras.
I had never heard of British Honduras. On a beautiful moon-light
night in December, 1953 our yacht ran up on a reef of staghorn
coral at English Caye. The Lighthouse Keeper from the caye,
a Mr. Ely, and his sons soon got us off the reef and around
in the lee of the caye.
We did not sink. The next morning we limped into Belize. What
an exotic, wonderful place. In addition to that, the people
The boat required a whole new bottom, which virtually bankrupted
us. Later, when they decided to have the boat towed back to
Florida behind a rusty old tramp steamer, I decided not to go.
I couldn't swim and did not want more ocean excitement.
A kindly lady told me perhaps I could get a job teaching at
St. John's College, a Jesuit High School. The Superior of the
Jesuit Mission said no, he did not need another teacher. He
needed a Public Relations Officer and Director of Alumni Affairs.
So, there I was at 22 a thin, frightened boy of Protestant
background, suddenly the PR man for a Catholic Mission in Central
In the next two years I traveled the Colony, visiting Catholic
schools in every District, town and village, and meeting everyone
who was anyone from British Colonial Civil Servants to mulecart
The Movement of Liberation had begun three years before and
was headed for Independence. I was facinated by the idea of
a group of people wresting freedom from the Mother Country,
just like the American Revolution--but without the bloodshed.
I did all I could to help.
do you consider to be the primary challenges for the people
of Belize in the 21st century?
Emory King: The same things
that challenge every society in every age throughout the world
- food, clothing and shelter, education, health, defense, and
spiritual guidence to survive.
are you doing to educate the youth of the country of Belize
regarding the challenges facing them?
Emory King: Not as much as
I would like. I write for the newspaper weekly, (sometimes weakly),
I lecture on the history of Belize to students, tourists, potential
investors and retirees. However, because of political problems
I am not asked to lecture to students as much as would be good
for them. I have written many books on the history of Belize,
but they are politically unacceptable to the politicians. Perhaps
the next generation will benefit from them.
will the current governmental fiscal restraints challenge the
people of Belize?
Emory King: The financial
problems of the Government will be solved one day. In the meantime
no one entitled to a pension cheque from the Government has
failed to receive it; no one entitled to a Social Security cheque
has failed to receive it.
The amount of cars running on $8.00 a gallon gas keep on rolling
and increasing every month. Houses are being built in every
village, town and city. All will be well.
you tell us a highlight to date of your life spent in Belize?
Emory King: Take your pick:
I was instrumental in bringing the Mennonites to Belize in
1958. They have brought about a revolution in agriculture in
I brought the first movie, "The Dogs of War" to Belize
in 1980. That led to "The Mosquito Coast" and others
as well as hundreds of television shoots.
In partnership with Net Vasquez I brought the first private
Earth Station to Belize in 1980, although I am not sure how
proud I should be of that. It started the television business
in Belize and you know how bad it is and how potentially good
it could be.
I introduced Michael Ashcroft to the proposal of the Royal
Bank of Canada to sell off their branch in Belize in 1987. This
turned out very well. Michael has done nothing but good for
Belize since then, in spite of what politicians and jealous
I was instrumental in bringing the first hydroelectric plant
to Belize at Mollejon in the Mountain Pine Ridge in 1990.
you tell us a highlight of your personal life that defines who
is Emory King?
Emory King: Meeting George
Price in 1954. Becoming a Catholic in 1955. Meeting
Elisa Deogratia Vasquez in 1955 and persuading her to marry
me in 1959. So many things shape a person's life. Picking out
one is impossible for me.
an occupation as 'The Film Commissioner of Belize' as well a
noted published writer and newspaper correspondent, obviously
occupations that are demanding both mentally and physical, what
do you do to keep in shape?
Emory King: Nothing. I am
bone lazy. I do not exercise. I do not push myself away from
the table. I do not smoke since 1995 when the doctore told me
to quit after 50 years of smoking an average of 5 cigars a day.
I don't drink any more. I don't drink any less--Irish whickey
if I can get it, Chivas Regal Scotch if necessary.
What is your favourite past-time occupation?
Emory King: Reading and researching
was it like to be associated directly with the hugely successful
movie 'Mosquito Coast' that starred Harrison Ford and no doubt
brought the world to Belize?
Emory King: It was a delight.
Harrison was great guy and so was his wife, Melissa. Everybody
treated me very well and treated everyone in Belize very well
I asked the Government for the second time to appoint a Film
Commission to promote Belize as a place to make movies, but
they said no, the movie people know we are here now and they
will come. It was 8 years before we got the next picture.
Despite the fact that you have been the visionary behind the
film industry in Belize, during the 2005 Belize Film Festival
held in February at 'The Bliss Center', you were noticibly absent
though you are the embodiment of the industry in the country.
When our attending correspondent questioned the festival spokesperson,
she declined to comment. What is your current relationship with
the filming industry today in Belize and why were you absent?
Emory King: I had and have
very serious reservations about the Film Festival, but I agreed
to Produce the first two. I feel that Belize should promote
a film indusrty in Belize to do two things: One, create jobs
for Belizeans and Two, bring hard currency to the country.
The Director of the Festival is of the opinion that the festival
should concentrate on Third World films and works done in the
Caribbean and Central America.
My view is that they have no money, they are not coming to
Belize to make pictures and they will not provide jobs for Belizeans.
They have their problems and we have ours. Let Belize concentrate
on getting Hollywood, Pinewood and Canadian film makers here
with their stuff. That will, in addition to everything else,
fill the seats at the Festivals. The Director and I came to
the parting of the ways.
What do see to be the future of the film industry in Belize?
Emory King: I am afraid it
is going to be tough. The tragedy of 9/11 frightened Hollywood
about going overseas. They may be getting over that now, but
Canada has started offering such extensive tax advantages to
Hollywood that poor Belize hasn't much of a chance.
In addition, and worse, the present political situation in
Belize , because it is broadcast over the internet every day,
has sent shock waves throughout the film industry, not only
in the US and Canada, but UK as well. This goes for TV production
We know that all of this is a propaganda war and that nothing
much has happened here, but the internet reports have scared
off a lot of potential film shoots.
So, we soldier on, trying to calm the fears and regain the
three or four shoots a month we had before the G-7 fiasco.
What is the greatest outdoor adventure you have ever experienced
Emory King: I don't have outdoor
adventures. I prefer indoor adventures.
What is your most favourite Belizean food dish? What are your
most favourite locally grown fruit and most favourite vegetable?
Emory King: Porterhouse steak
from Running W Meats with mushrooms. Fruit: mangoes, vegetable:
Have you ever had the luck to see any of Belize's exotic wildlife
such as a jaguar, tapir or the like? Have you ever been bitten
by a scorpion, snake or spider?
Emory King: I suppose you
don't mean jaguars, tapirs, etc.inside the delightful
Belize Zoo? No, I don't go where they live. I was bitten by
a scorpion once. It was hidden in a towel in my bathroom. I
the Belize Maya have many archaeological sites, in your opinion,
what are the historically significant sites in Belize for the
Kriol or Garifuna people that should receive more focus and
Emory King: The Graifuna have
been very good at promoting their culture at home and abroad
among themselves and to strangers. They have a memorial statue
and park near Dangriga.
The Belize Creole history goes back long before the Garifuna,
but only recently have any attempts been made to glorify it.
It's coming, but it will take more time and more research.
Which of the Maya archaeological sites in Belize have you visited?
Which site was the most fascinating for you??
Emory King: I suppose I have
visited all the sites in Belize and I am left cold by them.
I am not hostile to them, but they leave me uninterested. I
don't know why. They are good for tourism.
What are the top three books we should all read in our lifetime?
Emory King: "The Source"
by James Michner. This will give the reader an in depth
review of the development of western civilization.
"Belize, 1798--The Road to Glory" by Emory King.
The book which could lay to rest the canard that the Battle
of St. George's Caye was a myth! It will give the reader an
idea of the people who lived here, loved here and stayed here
to lay the foundation of our Independence.
"The History of Christianity in Belize--1776-to-1840"
by Wallace Johnson. A comprehensive research of how the Anglican,
Methodist and Baptist churches got started in Belize. The author
quit before the Catholics arrived.
Who would be on your list of favourite Belizean artists, writers
or musicians? Who would be on your list of favourite non-Belizean
artists, writers or musicians? What kind of music do you like
to listen to?
Emory King: Artists: Pen Cayetano,
Carolyn Carr, Mr. Nicholas; Writers: Zee Edgel, Sir Colville
Young, Emory King; Musicians: Pen Cayetano, Andy Palacio, Sir
Colville Young. I don't pay much attention to non-Belizean artists,
writers or musicians. My favourite music is from the 70s - not
the 1970s - the 1770s. Mozart, Beethoven, Bach, Händel
How would you answer the question, "What is Belizean Culture?"
Emory King: There is no such
a thing as Belizean Culture. There is Garifuna Culture, Creole
Culture, various Maya Cultures, Mestizo Culture, East Indian
Culture, etc. Every year when we send girls off to International
Beauty Contests we have the unsolvable problem of creating a
Belize is so ecologically diverse with abundant natural beauty.
What do you consider to be the most beautiful spot in all of
Emory King: There are so many.
What is your favourite vacation spot outside of Belize?
Emory King: I don't take vacations
either inside or outside Belize.
What would you consider to be the greatest asset of Belize?
What do you consider the biggest challenge for Belize and Belizeans
in the 21st century?
Emory King: Our greatest asset
is our English-speaking people who have been educated in Church
schools and who are determined to make Belize a better place
to live. Their biggest challenge is to see to it that the political
and spiritual values of our past are not destroyed.
You are a long time author of major books regarding life and
culture in Belize. Are there any current projects that you would
like our readers to know are forthcoming??
Emory King: I am finishing
my 15th book - a booklet really - which will be called "The
George Price I Know" It is my recollections of my personal
experiences with The Father of Our Country plus a number of
letters written to each other.
Belizeans have always been intrigued about the events surrounding
the Hurricane of 1931 that so devastated Belize City. What can
you tell us about you knowledge of the actions of the British
Government the day the hurricane struck Belize City??
Emory King: The Governor and
a number of British Colonial Officers, plus a few prominant
Belizeans knew of the storm coming on the 10th of September
1931. They decided among themselves to not tell the people.
It was a holiday with thousands of adults and children ready
to march in parades, but no official announcement was made.
Over 2,000 were killed.
What is your opinion regarding the current political tensions
in Belize that have gone so far as to have the opposition call
for the resignation of the democratically elected government
of Prime Minister Said Musa?
Emory King: The Opposition
in any Commonwealth Country which operates under the Westminister
system is ready (theoretically) at a moment's notice to assume
the reins of government. Our Opposition really thought that
the Government was in such turmoil that it could stampede it
into resigning. They were wrong.
Fortunately, the whole thing quieted down before there was
any bloodshed or deaths. Property damage was serious, but not
extensive. Unfortunately, the media deliberately made such a
hullabullo about it that the rest of world believed we were
on the verge of complete collapse.
We recently noticed that your property and home are for sale.
Are you planning to leave the country that you have called your
home for so many years and if so why?? If you are not leaving,
why are you selling your beautiful home??
Leave Belize? Never!!!! A few years ago I bought a cemetery
lot at Lord's Ridge Cemetery for $7. I certainly have no intention
of leaving Belize and losing my real estate investment in the
When we built our home about 23 years ago there were 7 people
living there: my wife and I, our two sons, her mother and father
and an adopted son of theirs. They are all gone now excpet my
wife and I. We have 4,000 square feet under roof on two storeys
with 5 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms. In addition there is a house
for our yardman on the property. The land amounts to five acres.The
place is just too much for my wife to handle. I am going on
75 and my wife is almost 70. It is time to build a smaller place.
What would you most want someone reading this article
to remember about what a one Emory King has to say?
Emory King: Belize is English-speaking
and part of the British Commonwealth, and is a democratic Christian
country. If that ever changes Belize will be no more.