- By Valerie Vande Panne
Prince William, Duke of Cambridge with his wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, are visiting the Caribbean. Their first stop was Belize, where they met with Mopan Maya chocolatier and cacao farmer Julio Saqui and his Che'il [Wild] Mayan Chocolate business.
Saqui grows and procures cacao from local Maya farmers –– 13,000 pounds of cacao annually. All of the people working with the cacao are from the Maya community. Saqui also works with Chef Brian Yazzie in Minneapolis, as well as other Native groups, including the Native American Food Sovereignty Alliance.
“I want people and friends in the world to know, chocolate brings happiness, and love,” Saqui told Native News Online after the royal visit. “Here in Mayapan Village, we are all about love. We are here to show how we, the Maya people, do traditional chocolate. Every group has their own difficulties, and we hope those are worked out, but in the meantime , we are going to keep producing chocolate to keep everyone happy.”
Saqui says when Prince William walked in, he seemed unsure what to expect, but after he started eating the chocolate, ("It tastes quite fruity," said Prince William) he relaxed and was all smiles. “That’s what chocolate [can] do,” says Saqui.
After the visit, the Duke and Duchess were seen joyfully “flirting,” according to Page Six.
Saqui is grateful for the royal visit, for the opportunity to showcase his family and community’s work to the Duke and Duchess and through them, people around the world.
The Maya community and cacao producers are about “love, kindness, chocolate, and happiness,” he says.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge posted pictures of their visit with Saqui to their Instagram page, writing:
This is Julio, a master in chocolate making with his family and he’s just given us a tour of their cocoa plantation farm here in southern Belize. It was an incredible experience to see first hand how this world famous chocolate was made - using all organic products, all grown on their land or nearby. We can see why this is loved all around the world!
Read more Native News Online coverage of Saqui and Maya chocolate and cacao here.
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