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#426311 - 12/29/11 10:14 AM George Price biography
Marty Offline
The new George Price book is proving hard to get, a friend has been able to purchase a few, here is that information:

UPS is delivering the book to me today. I already have several orders to ship and expect to be going to the post office later today. If anyone is interested in a copy you can contact me with your mailing address. I will send it to you immediately and you can send me a check or money order.

This is the softcover edition and it is $25.00 USD and that includes postage. I am planning to be in Belize in February and will be bringing some copies for a couple of libraries in Cayo. So if anyone wants one I can bring more copies for BZ$45 a piece.

Charlie Trew <succotzATyahoo.com>

#434178 - 03/27/12 10:08 AM Re: George Price biography [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline
Review of George Price, A Life Revealed by Godfrey P. Smith
by Lan Sluder

With George Price, A Life Revealed, Godfrey Smith has made a tremendous contribution to the study of the history of Belize.

This is the first full-length and detailed biography of the Rt. Hon. George Cadle Price, architect of Belizean independence and the dominant force in Belize politics for more than 50 years of the 20th century. While the biography – it’s listed as the “authorized biography,” but it appears to pull few punches – has shortcomings and weaknesses, it’s so much better than anything on Price that existed before that it will certainly go down as a milestone in the short list of political histories of British Honduras and Belize.

Born in 1919 of a fairly well-to-do Belize City Creole family – his father was of Scots heritage and on his mother’s side was from a Maya and Mestizo background -- Price lived through, and played an important role in, the transformation of the tiny, impoverished colonial colony of British Honduras into the modern but troubled state of Belize. He died September 19, 2011, just two days shy of the 30th anniversary of Belize independence and shortly before his biography was published.

Price, it must be admitted, was an odd bird by any standard. Before falling into politics, he took preparatory training – in a racially segregated seminary in Mississippi and in Guatemala – to become a Catholic priest. He himself said he was celibate all his life, not smoking and only in his last years taking an occasional drink of cognac. Though formally educated only through high school, he became a great reader, impressing novelist Graham Greene with his knowledge of Thomas Mann, and he was fluent in both Spanish and English, with enough knowledge of Latin to take his courses in that language at the Guatemalan seminary. Unlike today’s Belizean politicians, who seem to revel in their expensive SUVs and large seaside homes, Price died virtually without any money in the bank. He never owned a television or a stove in his life. He drove himself around Belize in an old Land Rover, flew coach, not first class, and spent at least a day a week listening to the complaints and problems of ordinary Belizeans.

Smith, a People’s United Party politician and former Belize Attorney General and Foreign Minister and a practicing attorney in Belize City, came to this biography late in Price’s life, beginning interviews with the “Father of Belize” when Price was 90. While Smith is a talented writer and benefitted from access to Price’s private papers and from interviews with a number of other Belizean leaders, the biography suffers from the lack of a lengthier and more in-depth research.

I wish Smith had painted with a broader interpretive brush. In a major biography such as this, I would have like to have seen more presentation of the broad sweep of the key issues in modern Belize history, in which Price played such an important role. Much of the biography dwells on the details of Price’s day-to-day political battles, hard going for those who aren’t familiar with the names and details of the lives of Belize politicians.

Smith does cover Price’s longstanding issues with Guatemala’s claim over Belize territory. He doesn’t whitewash Price, but in the end Price appears innocent of anything except an admiration for Guatemala and Latin America and occasional political expediency.

I also believe the biography would have benefitted from more details on Price’s personal and family life, but perhaps that is a limitation of an authorized biography. And, yes, I admit Price was at bottom an ascetic, rigid and perhaps boring man, quite unlike more Belize’s more colorful politicians.

Still, this is a valuable contribution to the all too short list of important books on the history of Belize.

A minor quibble: The Jamaican publisher, Ian Randle, needs to hire a better proofreader.

--Lan Sluder


comment by a friend:
A minor quibble - George Price never "drove himself" in fact I doubt that the Father Of The Nation could even drive a vehicle.

Response from Lan:

I stand corrected. I probably misinterpreted Smith's comments.

He writes things like "A sprightly Price jumped from his chair like a jack-in-the-box and greeted Greene warmly. They chatted briefly in his office before piling into Price's old Land Rover and drove westward from Belmopan heading toward the town of Benque Viejo del Carmen ..."

Maybe Price had a driver or someone else actually drove.

#434185 - 03/27/12 11:09 AM Re: George Price biography [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline
from a friend...

I reiterate - I knew George Price and know that he usually packed a sidearm but I NEVER saw him drive a vehicle. If he did drive a vehicle he walked more than he drove. On his daily walk to church at 5:00am he was accompanied by a police officer. He had several drivers, the most famous being "Jimmy Loco" from Burrell Boom who was a legend himself - he would have been an the ideal source for George Price's political years. Jimmy Loco was followed by a young man of East Indian descent.


and this from Lan.....

Someone on one of the Belize boards asked me to expand on my comments in the George Price biography review on Price and the Guatemala issue. I did so, as below, though I'm not sure I've done justice to this complex issue:


Guatemala was a major issue in Price's political life, and I couldn't hope to summarize it briefly here, even if I were knowledgeable enough to do so.

Basically it goes to Guatemala's 150-year-old claim, notably in the years prior to Belize's independence and also immediately following, that Belize was part of Guatemala, or at least that Belize should cede some territory to Guatemala. The threat of invasion by Guatemala was why the British stationed 1,500 troops and Harrier jets in Belize during the 1970s.

There were many accusations over the years by Price's political opponents that he was secretly negotiating with Guatemala to give up some Belize territory, that he received funds from the Guatemalan government, or that he was not as "tough" on Guatemala as he should have been.

The fact that Price spoke fluent Spanish, seemed to like and admire some aspects of Guatemalan life and embraced the idea that Belize was more a part of Central America than of the Caribbean gave some legs to the views of the opposition.

Price, Smith says, denies ever personally taking any money from Guatemala and generally stood firm on the question of Belize's territorial integrity. He played a role in getting Britain to bring in troops and to defend Belize, and in the end he ceded very little to Guatemala in exchange for it giving up its claims to Belize.

Even after the Guatemalan government officially gave up claims to Belize, the Guatemalan issue resurfaced in the early 1990s when Britain decided to withdraw all but about 200 of its troops. The British withdrawal, and an internal about face on Belize by a new Guatemala government, played some role in the 1993 general election defeat of the PUP and the subsequent resignation of Price as PUP leader in 1996.

The issue is more complex than this, and I have only covered some of it.


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