Changing Times....

The Honourable Glenn Godfrey and
The Right Honourable George Price

Last week, the Right Honourable George Price announced he would step down as Party Leader of the People's United Party (PUP) at the PUP's National Convention to be held on November 24th. He also said he would remain as PUP Standard Bearer for the Pickstock Division.

The decision by Mr. Price after forty years of service as PUP Party Leader has resulted in two party members declaring their intention to run for Party Leader.

The Honourable Said Musa, Area Representative of the Fort George Division, who is currently Deputy Party Leader, immediately offered himself as a candidate for the post.

Former Deputy Prime Minister Florencio Marin, currently Corozal Southeast Area Representative was in Nicaragua immediately after the announcement. He indicated on Monday, October 21st that he would also be a candidate for Party Leader.

Mr. Price served as Premier of the Belize from 1963 to 1981; after independence was achieved in 1981, he served as Prime Minister from 1981 to 1984 and from 1989 to 1993.

Regardless of who suceeds Mr. Price as Party Leader, the national political field in San Pedro has been changed completely in the last year, beginning with the announcement of Area Representative Glenn Godfrey that he would not seek re-election. Patty Arceo, a San Pedro native, became the new PUP Standard Bearer at a PUP election late in July.

The United Democratic Party (UDP) candidate for Area Representative is Louis Sylvestre, a political figure familiar to many San Pedro residents from his years of service in prior governments. He was selected as UDP Standard Bearer at an early July convention. He was unopposed.

Angel Nuņez, author of "Twenty-Five Years Ago", recalls Mr. Price's contributions to San Pedro:

There is not a living soul in San Pedro whose life has not been touched positively by this man - George Cadle Price Escalante. Some people see his resignation as the leader of the PUP as a loss to his party and his country. Others are glad he has stepped down. I see it as an opportunity to say thanks to a man who has served his people, his country and in this case specifically for his service to the people of San Pedro.

To appreciate Mr. Price we must get out of the context of politics, for when he served San Pedro, he did not do so in the context of politics. He simply served us young and old, rich and poor, red and blue.

I had seen George Price from afar on various occasions, especially addressing meetings in Belize City. But the very first time I shook his hand was in San Pedro when he visited and I was secretary in the village council under PUP chairman Enrique Staines Sr. (deceased). Mr. Price arrived by skiff in khaki pants, long sleeves and tennis shoe. As we walked down Front Street, he remarked, "Mr. Chairman, the streets are dirty; let us call on the soldiers of the Belizean revolution to keep this place clean." And he proceeded to pick up papers and conch shells and all of us followed him. I later learned that the soldiers of the peaceful constructive Belizean revolution were the citizens of Belize. I was very much touched by the simplicity and humbleness and sincerity of this great man. He was not only the Premier, but a true leader who was willing to lead by example. As I got to know him closer, I learned that he did not care to be called "honourable" nor "doctor" nor any such fancy title. He was simply George Price, a man for all the people.

1956 to 1996 - he has served this nation, and Twenty Five Years Ago would like to look at his service for San Pedro.
1. Though the airstrip was built on private land, Mr. Price's stamp of approval set the grounds for the commencement of tourism and air communication and transportation to San Pedro and other parts of Belize.

2. One year after Hurricane Hattie destroyed our wooden school building by the beach, Price gave the okay for our ferro-concrete primary school which is still in use today.

3. With community centers becoming popular centers for recreation and village meetings around the country, George Price authorized the construction of the community center for the village of San Pedro in 1965 or thereabouts. It later served for San Pedro High School 1971 - 1986 and for town board offices and town hall from 1986 to present.

4. George Price's electrification program country-wide did not exclude San Pedro and in the 60's he moved us from electric power from 5 to 9 p.m. to 24 hour electricity with a modern power plant still in use to this day.

5. With tourism on the rise, Mr. Price acknowledged that a modern telephone system was proper. The BTL building with direct dialing internationally was also provided in San Pedro in the 70's.

6. Land reform has always been George Price's strength and "baby". Belizeans must own Belize. San Pedranos must own San Pedro. In 1971 George Price approved for his government to acquire all the town area from the airstrip to Paradise Hotel. Each piece of land was then turned over to a San Pedrano at some 500 dollars per lot with clear title. Price made us all owners and masters of our land. And again in the 70's all of back street which was mangrove was acquired by Price's government and turned over to residents of San Pedro. Again, in the 80's, Price acquired from Paradise to Boca del Rio, and so San Juan area and Boca del Rio area were born. And in the early 90's, once again George Price saw fit for his government to acquire land behind the airstrip, an area known today as San Pedrito. (Those lots are being handed out today.) Every piece of land owned in our town proper can be traced back to George Price.

7. Water did not escape Price's plans for San Pedro. In the 80's the first phase of WASA's water project came into being. And in the early 90's again it was Price's blessing that saw the commencement of WASA's second phase, the 30 odd million dollar project by Victoria House. That project is just now being completed and it was Price's vision and care for San Pedro.

8. All of us who have been touched by San Pedro High School have also been touched by George Price's vision for education. In the 80's, he set aside the land for the construction of the new high school.

9. In the late 70's, George Price also gave us a modern clinic staffed by a full-time nurse. Unfortunately it was burnt down in the 80's along with two other buildings.

10. When our village leaders saw it fit for San Pedro to become a town, Price's stamp of approval readily gave way for a new birth, a new direction, a new boom in the development of San Pedro. In 1984 township was declared for San Pedro - a large town with a large tax base. When the boundaries were "rolled back" out of malice, Price promised to roll it up again and in 1989 he did just that.

11. And we cannot forget Price as the Father of our Belizean Independence. When he did it for our country, we too got a name, a flag, a national anthem, and dignity as a people.

George Price's love for Belize knows no limits. His love for San Pedro is the same. Today, he retires after some 40 years of true service. He can sleep in peace. He can walk with his head high. The greatest respect we can give him is to acknowledge that he has touched positively ALL OF OUR LIVES. It is for this reason, that even though he is not a San Pedrano, we consider him one and Twenty Five Years Ago welcomes him to San Pedro's Hall of Fame.

San Pedro Sun

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