Andy Palacio (Belize)
Andy Palacio grew up in a Garifuna family in the coastal village of Barranco, Belize, and soaked up local and international music. He worked as a high school teacher, and on a visit to Nicaragua with a literacy project, he met an elderly man who was one of the last Garifuna speakers in Nicaragua. He resolved to preserve the language at home and in 1981 served as host of a Garifuna program on Radio Belize.
During the 1980s, Mr. Palacio used Garifuna rhythms in punta rock, a popular Caribbean dance music, and had Central American hits, including “Bikini Panty” and “Gimme Punta Rock.” After various government jobs, he was named director of culture at the Belize Arts Council in 2003. In Belize, Palacio was nationally known as both a musician and an advocate for Garifuna culture. “Watina,” his album with the Garifuna Collective, was acclaimed as one of the best world music releases of 2007. Palacio passed away in 2008, at the age of 47, after a sudden stroke and heart attack. His music continues to represent the identity and preservation of the vibrant Garifuna culture.