The country was once a haven for victims of outside violence – but the government has recently taken a hardline approach amid anti-Hispanic feeling

A pair of young farmhands wait for a ride at an idle junction under a coconut palm on a blistering day in south Belize. A short drive east is a fishing village of Garifunas – mixed-race descendants of African slaves and indigenous Arawaks – while along the highway to the west are clusters of Mayan thatched huts.

It’s too hot to walk the few miles to Bella Vista, a dusty Spanish-speaking migrant community whose inhabitants mostly work in the surrounding banana plantations and shrimp farms – part of the steady flow of seasonal labourers from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, drawn here by higher wages and plentiful work.

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