Members of Belize’s Mennonite community, easily recognizable in their denim dungarees, can be seen trading produce and buying supplies every day in Orange Walk and Belize City. The Mennonites, a Protestant group often noted for their pacifist beliefs and rejection of modern advancements, arose from the radical Anabaptist movement of the sixteenth century and are named after Dutch priest Menno Simons. Recurring government restrictions on their lifestyle, especially regarding their objection to military service, have forced them to move repeatedly over time. Having emigrated to Switzerland, they then travelled to Prussia, and in 1663 a group moved to North America. After World War I they migrated from Canada to Mexico, eventually arriving in Belize in 1958. In recent years, farm-produced prosperity has caused drastic changes in their lives: the Mennonite Church in Belize is increasingly split between a modernist section – who use electricity and power tools, and drive trucks, tractors and even cars – and the traditionalists, who prefer a stricter interpretation of beliefs.

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