25 YEARS AGO ON AMBERGRIS CAYE   BY ANGEL NUÑEZ

The Early Alcades and First Mayor


T
he Alcalde system was designed so that an elder and respectable citizen of the community could serve as a village leader and role model. He would organize the villagers and oreganize cultural events that would keep the community united. He also took advantage of his status as leader to motivate the villagers to participate in civic duties like cleaning the streets, cemetary, clinic grounds and in San Pedro the beaches and park. In villages here there are no policemen, the Alcalde would be called to settle a dispute or even a fight. In other words, the Alcalde was the nucleus of his community. It is not certain when the Alcalde system was estabished in San Pedro as reports are sketchy, but we have a pretty good idea from word of mouth. The book "Ambergris Caye- Paradise with a Past" notes that the village prospered and before 1850 the villagers had elected an Alcalde to lead the village and the Superintendent had recomended the appointment of a resident policeman to replace the Alcalde.

Most folks tell us that the early Alcalde or village count Chairman of the 1940 was Wilfrido "Fido" Nuhez, JP/ Commissioner of Supreme Court (deceased), He was born in San Pedro on May 15, 1926. Fido was a coconut harvester, fisherman, businessman, bar wrier and finally hotel proprietor. He married Fina Nunez and was father to Wil Nunez and Isabela Nunez Salazar. Mr. Fido was very popular in his participation in carnivals and dances. To this day his name remains at one of San Pedro's popular spots- Fido's Court- yard.

Mr. Efrain Guerrero, JP was born in San Pedro on December 17, 1927 and was raised in San Pedro where he has lived all his life. He is a born leader who has given of his life to his people. Mr. Guerrero was a coconut harvester, a fisherman, a lobster buyer and businessman, a saloon proprietor, bar operator and village leader, He too served with distinction as one of our early Alcaldes.

A dynamic champion of the people was Mr. Alfredo "Fedo" Alamilla (deceased). He was born in San Pedro on August 21 1918. Don Fedo was a coconut harvester, a fisherman, a Lion, and also a tourist guide. He was a cornerstone in the founding of the Caribean Fishing Cooperative and a negotiator in the fishing international export markets. Oh yes, nobody can forget don Fedo's romantic voice and his interpretation of his favorite song "Senora Bonita".

Another great leader was Mr. Octavio "Tabo" Alamilla (deceased). He was born in San Pedro on April 22, 1917. He too was a coconut harvester, a fisherman, a dealer in Octavio fruits, a businessman and plant operator/manager at milla Caribena Fishing Cooperative. He was a Lion and served his people with honor and dignity. Don Tablito very instrumental in the business Of the fishing cooperative and served as the first president of that institution.

One of the most dynamic Alcaldes was the late Enrique Staines Sr., JP/Commissioner Of Supreme Court. He was born in May 28, 1 928, and spent most of his life in San Pedro where he married and raised his family of six- Gloria. fraida, Enrique, Alma. Ivan, and Jenny.

Mr. Staines harvested coconuts, worked in a tugboat, was a fisherman, caretaker, telephone operator, and businessman. He and his wife, Elvia Staines, founded the Burger Isle, to be named later Elvi's Kitchen.

The youngest of the Alcaldes was Gustavo "Tabito" born on May 31 1952 After completing his studies he worked as a refrigeration technician at Caribean Fishing Cooperative and did private work as we 11. After marrying a U.S. citizen, Tabito migrated to the USA, but not before doing his share of public service for his people.


Gilberto "Chico" Gomez, JP was born in San Pedro on May 26, 1942. During his life, he helped collect coconuts with his dad, was a teacher. rnanager of the fishing cooperative, hotelier, and businessman. Chico was the last of the village Alcaldes and fought for San Pedro to be declared a town. When San Pedro was elevated to town- ship on November 27, 1984, Chico became the first Town Mayor and for his great leadership he subquently won consecutive elections when he finally retired from politics and public service.

Our first mayor, Mr. Gilberto, “Chico” Gomez was automatically promoted from village council chairman to mayor when San Pedro obtained its township status in 1984. But then, in 1985 the first town council election was held and Chico won that election overwhelmingly. In those days there was an election of the entire council and then within themselves, they appointed the mayor. Pete Salazar was the deputy mayor and in the years to follow, Mr. Salazar and I were asked by the council to step up to the position of mayor but we declined because we felt Chico was doing an excellent job. Kudos to Mayor Gilberto Gomez.

Another dynamic village council Alcalde was Mr. Abel Guerrero, Commissioner of the Supreme Court. A fisherman for many years, Mr. Guerreio later became a pioneer in the tourism industry, a dedicated lay minister of the Catholic faith and a committed Lions Club member. An exemplary father, Abel served as Chairman of the village council for many years. Twenty Five Years Ago salutes all our village Alcaldes and our past and present town Mayors for the heart and courage and commitment to the people of San Pedro.


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