On 5th Anniversary of His Death, George Price Party & Nation Pay Tribute
The Father of the Nation George Price passed away five years ago. Price led the People’s United Party for four decades from the days of a colonial outpost, to self suffrage, internal self governance; and his crowning glory was the attainment of Independence in 1981. He is revered as the humble man with an extraordinary vision who devoted his life to service of the people of his beloved Belize. On his tomb it is written that that he “left the world a better place than he found it.” On the anniversary of his death, the P.U.P. today held a ceremony at his burial site at the Lord’s Ridge Cemetery to honor the fallen leader. News Five’s Duane Moody reports.
Duane Moody, Reporting
Today, family and friends as well as P.U.P. supporters gathered at the Lord Ridge Cemetery in Belize City to honor the Father of the Nation, George Cadle Price on National Service Day. Five years ago today, on a Monday as well, Price – the first premier of the country and the man who led the country to its independence on September twenty-first, 1981 – took his last breath around six-thirty a.m. To nor the giant, wreaths were placed at his grave site. P.U.P. Party Chairman and nephew, Henry Charles Usher spoke about the tribute to the Belizean hero.
Henry Charles Usher, Party Chairman, P.U.P.
“The reluctant hero, an extraordinary leader, a disciplined teacher and a phenomenal Belizean whose only wish as is inscribed on his grave was to be known as a good Belizean and one who went through his life in a pilgrimage and left the world a better place than he found it.”
Many in attendance spoke of their encounter with Price. Rene Villanueva Senior, who recited a poem in his honor, says he first met the then premier of the country back in the seventies when he was only seventeen years old.
Rene Villanueva Sr.
Rene Villanueva Sr., Participant
“My admiration for George Price goes way back, even before that because as a young boy fourteen years old, in my room in Honduras, I had an old picture of George Price that I had gotten—I don’t remember how—and I would say this is my presidente and one day I would take over from him. But I did not go into politics so let’s make that very clear. So coming here and going to meet this man at age seventeen and asking for a job in the building of the new Belizean nation, and then he looks at me and say but what were you doing in Honduras. I said, well premier, I was working at this little radio station, La Voz Del Atlantico. Oh well Radio Belize needs a temporary Spanish continuity announcer….you think you could handle that? I said premier, I am not sure. Radio Belize the standard is high, they are BBC trained. He says oh well that dah all I have to offer man; that’s all I have to offer. And he calls the acting Chief Broadcasting Officer and I did an interview with him. I failed the English script, but I passed the Spanish script and they told me I had a good voice for some reason. And so I was hired the fifteenth of January, 1968, as a temporary Spanish continuity announcer at Radio Belize.”
Elizabeth Zabaneh, Niece of George Price
“This was a great guy; he was very focused. He used to tell us that we have to be like Ramsey Mule…keep the blinders to the side; don’t lose focus. That’s why he didn’t have a television, he didn’t have a radio; he had to be focused in what he had to do.”
His successor, former Prime Minister Said Musa and current P.U.P. Leader John Briceño also spoke flowingly of Price. Musa spoke on an encounter Price had in the Sarstoon with a Guatemalan patrol.
Said Musa, Former Prime Minister
“The Guatemalan patrol came up to the Lolet and the captain of that patrol said stop, signaling the Lolet to stop. The captain asked Mister Price should he stop. Mister Price said, “Yes, stop. And invite them onboard. I want to speak to them.” So he invited the Guatemalan navy people onboard the Lolet and he proceeded to tell them…this boat that I am on is carrying the Premier of Belize. this river is yhe international boundary between your country and my country—Guatemala and Belize—and we have every right to go into this river. No intendes? Yo follow right? The poor Guatemalan captain was so stunned he said, “Me perdona, Senor Primer; me perdona.” And they withdrew.”
John Briceño, P.U.P. Leader
“I think it is more important to keep the connection about the work that Mister Price did for this country. It pains me when I see or hear young people not really knwoign the work of this great man. we believe that at least on this day, the nineteenth, when he departed from this world, that this one time that we could at least talk about what he was all about, which was to serve the people; service to Belize. So we are happy also that even the government has decided to call the nineteenth or refer to it as National Service Day.”