Structure of Belizean Society
Belizean society in the early 1990s was marked by enduring differences in the distribution of wealth, power, and prestige. However, because of the small size of Belize's population and the intimate scale of social relations, the social distance between the rich and the poor, while significant, was nowhere as vast as in other Caribbean and Central American societies, such as Jamaica and El Salvador. Indeed, Belize lacked the violent class and racial conflict that has figured so prominently in the social life of its Central American neighbors.
Still, a decade after independence, political and economic power remained vested in the hands of a relatively small local elite, most of whom were either white, light-skinned Creole, or Mestizo. The sizable middle group, however, was composed of peoples of different ethnic backgrounds. This middle group did not constitute a unified social class, but rather a number of middleand working-class groups, loosely oriented around shared dispositions toward education, cultural respectability, and possibilities for upward social mobility. These beliefs, and the social practices they engendered, helped distinguish the middle group from the grass roots majority of the Belizean people.
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