Chiney man on the Belize flag?


Staff member
Made in 1981, The Belize Flag is Standardized in 2019


And, switching gears now, our next story is about something we'll all be thinking of over the next month.
It's the Belizean flag - unique in the world as the only flag with human figures on it. But, as we've documented before, the skin tone of those human figures has changed significantly over time.

You might not know this, but the Coat of Arms started in the 1800's with two black woodcutters - and since then the melanin content of both men has been consistently going down.

Yes, at Independence it was formalized as one Mestizo Man and one Creole man, but that creole man has been getting lighter and lighter - so much so that - you'll see flags nowadays where it looks like a Chinese man and a Mestizo man.

Indeed, there are many versions of the Belize flag, too many for a cornerstone of our national identity. That's why NICH - working with a host of other government actors - has been laboring to standardize the Belizean flag - and enforce its use by law. We found out more today:..

Jules Vasquez reporting
As Belizeans, we all know this moment - but how much do we really know about this flag? 38 years on from independence, there are about 38 versions - each slightly different:

Neil Hall, NICH Public Relations
"As many of you know we have a few versions of the flag fying around the country. Some with yellow men, some with black men, some with brown men, some with grey men and we think it's very important for us to all come together and have one unifying banner."

So, now the flag will be standardized, and made official by law. To get that standard, they went back to the 1981 flag - which is the mother flag:

Nigel Encalada, ISCR - NICH
"In 1981 this flag was hoisted, and so the first question we asked is how did we get there. And so with the assistance of museum staff, we interviewed the designer of the flag prior to Independence Mr. Inez Sanchez and Everal Waight, two public servants at the time who had used earlier references of this flag that has been developed since as early as the early 1800s. So there is a a lot of history involve in the flag and so they had proposed what was called at Independence time the flag of unity and the basic principle was this that the flag to be designed would closely resemble the description that was lodge at the College of Arms in London in October of 1981 and that it would reflect the colour schemes of that flag of 1981."

Looking at the coat of arms within the two flags side by side, the main thing that has changed is the rendering of the two woodcutters. Over time they have been made a little more defined, like they've been in the gym, and now those white pants have a little depth to them, plus they now wear belts.

Nigel Encalada, ISCR - NICH
"The flag that you see at the background here is the flag that was hoisted at Independence. This is at the George Price Center. The flag was produced in Liverpool, London and you will see if you look here this version, this is an effort to try and replicate that, with the exception that you see there the men are a little bit angular. This was clearly done by primitive technology at the time. Now we have much more advanced technology, so the men there are more anatomically accurate on the flag today. The two men represents a creole Belizean and a Mestizo Belizean. The two largest ethnic groups at the time of Independence."

The elements in the chevron have also been modified slightly:

Nigel Encalada, ISCR - NICH
"If you look at the axe in the upper left of the chevron as it is called, that's now argent. An axe is silver looking when its new and so on. If you go back to the original flag its blue, but there is now axe that's blue. We went into the River Valley and we picked up paddles from the various villages to see if there is anything that resembles this paddle here and we even went back into the archival records to look at paddles that we have found. We found like 1880, some of the earliest photographs that we have and we said okay that is like a caricature looking paddle. If you fast forward you see the paddle now more accurately resembles a paddle that's used in the River Valley."

Deep research, and today the final version was presented to all the town and city mayors.

The culture Minister hopes that this spirit of bi partisanship can hold:

Hon. Patrick Faber, Minister of Culture
"Everything does not have to be a fight and in this instance it is merely patriotic individuals, albeit, there may be government employees in some respects trying to ensure that we have a standardize flag and that some of the discrepancies, the various different colorizations and sizes and depictions, because we all frown at that kind of thing. So it is merely to try to set the record straight."

And eventually, this final version will be legally established as the standard:

Nigel Encalada, ISCR - NICH
"Anyone who wants to produce the flag and this is not yet law, going forward, would have to make a request through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as the entity we have identified and they will provide them with the specifications in order to produce the flag in accordance with this standard."

A standard that, hopefully, promotes unity and not division:

Hon. Patrick Faber, Minister of Culture
"I urge you to help us to rally behind this flag as the official flag of Belize."

A statutory instrument will be issued fixing - in law - the color scheme of the flag and a formal flag protocol will be developed. There will be a 6 month window to phase out the old flag at the official level.

For those wanting more on the history of the flag, Encalada will give a full lecture on September 17th.