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Tony Rath's

HISTORY > Recent History
Libertad Factory
Old Libertad Factory - now closed

By 1935, the Libertad factory was built on the New River. By 1960, sugar production in the north reach its zenith...everyone was getting into the act. Former subsistence farmers began to switch to sugar. Unfortunately, US demand for sugar crashed in the 1970s and the Libertad factory closed in 1986. While sugar cane is still the dominant crop, all is now processed at the Tower Hill plant near Orange Walk, where mollasses, Belizean rum and refined sugar are processed for export.

Corozal Clock Tower
Corozal Town Clock Tower
Cohune palm
Cohune Palm -

Two major towns have grown in the north. Only a few minutes from the Mexican border, Corozal Town, founded by refugees from the massacre at Bacalar during the Caste War in 1849. The name "Corozal" comes from the great forest of Cohune Nuts Palm (Corozal) that the refugees found in the area. The Cohune nuts were used for its meat, oil, and palm fronds.

Corozal Town shore
Corozal Town Shoreline

Old Corozal consisted of adobe and thatch structures loosely organized into a town. Then on September 27th, 1955 Hurricane Janet hit Corozal Town. Ten houses were reportedly left standing. Though tragic, it also created an opportunity for rebuilding a modern city. Today, the town is neat and clean, and layed out in a typical mexican grid pattern with spacious parks and modern electricity, water, and sewage. Corozal Town may be the only community in Belize planned and laid out by professionals.

Damage from Hurricane Janet in 1955
Damage from Hurricane Janet in 1955

The other major town in the North also grew from the flow of refugees from the Caste War. Orange Walk Town grew as the sugar industry flourished, and with the closing of the Libertad sugar factory, became the sole processor of cane. Today, the town lives with the constant rumble of bulging cane trucks flowing in from all corners of the north heading to the factory.

Orange Walk Town main street
Orange Walk Town Main Street

Mennonites reached Belize and Orange Walk in 1958. They are successful farmers, providing much of the produce for the Belizean market. The land around Blue Creek and Shipyard are populated by the more orthodox Mennonites who choose to farm without the assistance of modern technology.

Typical Mennonite Means of Transportation
MayanSpanish/BritishCaste WarRecent

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