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Belize’s Mennonites Featured in the New York Times

In a recent special feature in their “The Look” section, the New York Times documented the Mennonite community in Belize with a series of photographs and in-depth interviews. According to the New York Times, the Mennonite community is based entirely on their Christian faith, which includes strict commandments to keep the affairs of the state separate from those of faith.

The Mennonites are often confused with the Amish as both faiths have conservative wings that largely eschew modern technology. But while the Amish are largely found in the United States, the majority of the more than one million Mennonites around the world live in tight-knit communities in countries like Paraguay, India, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Belize.

The New York Times article tracks the first Mennonites of Belize from their origins in Russia to their numerous escapes from the intolerant governments of Poland, Canada, and later Mexico. But once in Belize, the Mennonites liked what they saw, including legal exemption from mandatory military service and the ability to create parochial schools with instruction in their native language: a variant of German called Plautdietsch.

The expose and photographs published in the New York Times compares and contrasts the Mennonite’s philosophy about integration with the modern world. On one hand, they are largely restricted to conservative forms of dress, but savvy Mennonite businessmen use computers and smartphones to help sell their products while cruising down the road in a horse and buggy. But their choice to use older forms of transportation is more about keeping their communities close-knit than any belief in the inherent evils of modern technology.

One interesting fact not mentioned by the New York Times is that 2018 is when the Mennonite community is marking the 50th anniversary of their arrival to the then-British colony. After facing persecution in Mexico, the community emigrated to the village of Spanish Lookout in what is now Cayo District, attracted both by the welcoming atmosphere as well as the abundance of fertile farmland.

Today, the Mennonites in Belize are largely known for their cattle ranching and dairy production, and Mennonite cheese, butter, beef, and other products can be found on supermarket shelves all across the country. It is estimated that approximately 11,000 people in Belize are active members of the Mennonite community.

Chabil Mar resort in Placencia Belize offers jungle and beach vacation packages that include cultural trips to indigenous communities across the country, including tours of Mennonite villages.

For information about Belize, feel free to chat with our Concierge at: concierge{@}chabilmarvillas.com or contact our Reservations Manager at:reservations{@}chabilmarvillas.com. Or perhaps you would like to call toll free from the US or Canada: 1-866-417-2377.

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