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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.”

william and cathy cambridge try cacaoThe Duke and Duchess taste raw cacao. (Photo/Instagram)

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. 

276164765 541331084018940 5978608371227316008 nJulio Zenil and the Che'il Maya Chocolate community. (Photo/Instagram)

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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About The Author
Author: Valerie Vande PanneEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Valerie Vande Panne is managing editor of Native News Online. A longtime journalist, Ms. Vande Panne was editor-in-chief of Detroit's alt-weekly the Metro Times and news editor of High Times magazine. Ms. Vande Panne has also been a reporter at WGCU, the NPR and PBS affiliate in Southwest Florida, and she has been a stringer for The New York Times and Reuters. Her work has also appeared in Bloomberg, Columbia Journalism Review, The Guardian, Harvard Law Today, Politico, and Salon, among many other publications. Ms. Vande Panne matriculated at and attended Harvard University.