The official book launch for "Still Waters", Biography of Manuel Esquivel with Memoire of Kathy Esquivel.
Sir Manuel, An Unlikely Politician
Former two term Prime Minister Sir Manuel Esquivel is 81 years old now,
and - while the senior statesman is now in the autumn of his years, his
name is writ large in history as Belize's first post-independence Prime
In his first term, Esquivel embraced a free market model, with an
emphasis on foreign direct investment and tourism. Those might seem
pretty ordinary now, but at the time it was a sharp shift in strategy
because, up to 1984, Belize had pursued a conservative economic agenda
under what was called the mixed economy.
But, while he may have shaped Belize's economic future - Esquivel is
most remembered in the public mind for retrenchment and hard times -
which defined his second, 1993 - 1998 term.
Now, it all comes together in the first biography of Sir Manuel -
written by his wife Kathy. 7News was at the launch at the House of
Sir Manuel may have been hunched over in a wheelchair able only to stand
for the national anthem, and his one time contemporaries may have been
scarce in attendance, but they're all there in his story - as told by his
In her third book, called "Still Waters", the Biography of Manuel Esquivel
interspersed with her personal memoir.
Lady Kathy Esquivel - Author
"I think I got the idea that what I was writing even for the biography
part was party memoir and so I do feel that as a partnership we were
both very involved, not in governing but in the process."
The book traces the career of Manuel Esquivel from a Physics teacher to
Belize's first post independence Prime Minister, and it reveals much
according to this reviewer:
Doug Singh - Reviewer
"Well after reading this book I realize I really did not know him that
well especially when I read one of Kathy's memoirs which said and I
quote, 'As an incurable romantic, Manuel wanted to visit San Marino
with me, I thought how sweet but Sir Manuel, an incurable romantic? Who
know, perhaps the book should have been named easy river run deep."
But the book illuminates not just the personal side, but also the political
"We will all remember when he was called cold and heartless as a result of
the retrenchment exercise that occurred just before Christmas. Well you
will learn that Sir Manuel's pragmatic position was that if you were going
to lose your job, wouldn't you want to know before Christmas, so you can
plan ahead and don't over spend on Christmas and be broke in January as is
generally is the case, I don't know if I would agree with that level of
pragmatism but obviously most of the public did not either. Seriously and
all jokes aside, decisions like retrenchment came with serious
considerations and pressures which are explained in the book, which you
much read to appreciate the complexities to let to such decisions. Sir.
Manuel confessed in the book that he has no PR skills, so that meant he did
not know how to do make you feel better about getting a bukut. Sir. Manuel
is honest to a fault, genuine to his convictions and true to his cause but
you certainly can't accuse him of being political savvy."
Neither savvy nor secretive, the author says she had nothing to hide:
"And even if Sir Manuel doesn't talk very much, Mrs. Esquivel will tell it
like it is as it is obvious that she was not shackled when she wrote this
Lady Kathy Esquivel
"I didn't feel there was anything I needed to hide in order to protect his
reputation if that what you were asking."
"So then is it that you think that Sir Manuel didn't do anything that
needed to kept a secret in his career in politics."
Lady Kathy Esquivel
"Well if he did it's a secret from me too, I know of nothing. I say
out-rightly that in terms of marketing himself, complete and utter failure
but that's the only thing."
Jules Vasquez "So you believe he's integrity is truly unimpeachable?"
Lady Kathy Esquivel "I believe that."
"Any critical reader might say, well of course you believe that, he's your
Lady Kathy Esquivel
"Yes, so if they want to have something else to say, they can, I can only
say that I did not hide anything that I know."
A most unusual politician - and maybe no politician at all:
Lady Kathy Esquivel
"The first title I had was an unlikely politician but then I thought that
also gave a wrong impression, so I preferred this title but you're quite
right and I always, I don't have to worry if he stray because all of those
newspapers out there only looking to see him do something bad and none of
them found it, so I can only assume there was nothing to find."
But, what the book does reveal is that like all politicians, he hated
Lady Kathy Esquivel
"Well, losing is never fun, losing is never fun. I think why he found
losing difficult was again because he worried about what would happen to
Belize, like his major concern was the direction that Belize would take."
And while Sir Manuel may never be called National Hero like Price and
Goldson, we get the sense he would be fine with being called just a
The book is available for 9.99 in the Amazon Kindle store for the
Kindle reader app, and for 50 dollars Belize at Price and Company.
They Wrote The Book On COVID
And Sir Manuel's book wasn't the only one that was launched today. Dr
Jorge Hidalgo is co-author of "COVID 19 Pandemic, Lessons from the
Frontline" and today, he and the other co-authors, Michael Singh and Dr
Daniel Godinez were at the Belize Healthcare Partners to launch it. The
book takes advice, opinions, and views from different countries across
the globe relating to the preparation and management of the pandemic.
Dr Hidalgo explained just some of the viewpoints that will be expressed
in the book.
Dr. Jorge Hidalgo - Head of ICU/COVID 19 Unit, BHCP
"The book is a book that is basically trying to get a world opinion. We
have 21 chapters. What we did is we collected the opinion of the
leaders from several countries. Of course, one of the most important is
the opinion on our country, what is happening in Belize. Just before I
allow Mr. Mike to talk about it, we decided to have an opinion of
people from Brazil, leaders from Brazil. Brazil as everybody knows,
went through the pandemic. We have the opinion from leaders from the
Middle East to see how they face the pandemic. From India also, at the
end we have some leaders from India who commented on the overall
situation and what is the future in terms of the pandemic and after
what will be the after effect. Also, we have other important points
like how the young generation faced the pandemic. We have the
millennial opinion. What happened with them, how they felt during the
pandemic, how their lives changed dramatically going to online schools
to mention that. We have an opinion of a patient, a patient from the
initial start. The other part that we thought was really important is
to have something about what we do in terms of a search."
And Singh and Dr Godinez also spoke about their contribution.
Michael Signh - Office of the PM (former)
"I thought it was important for the book to also include what happens
behind the scenes with a government. I am talking about a government,
not necessarily in the medical side of it but also in respect to how
decisions are made, what are the underlying issues that impact
decisions. At the time, I was a key part of the task force for the
pandemic, which was last year, which is when the book originated. So, a
lot of the perspective was based on my experience in the task force and
also observing some of the international reactions that were happening
at the time. It is a very fluid issue. Today, probably, if I were to
write this chapter it would be completely different because things
Dr. Daniel Godinez- Internist, BPCH
"One thing is clear, which the experts have already advised us and
warned us about, is that this pandemic is not going to go away anytime
soon. We have to learn to live with it. It will probably take years
before we see the end of it. Even so, this virus is probably going to
be living with us for many years to come. I am glad to see that some of
these chapters are written by people who are physicians and have
actually suffered and gone through the Covid disease. So, this is a
very personal kind of book. I think that the knowledge that is included
here is very wide. As you can understand, to write a book and to
compile a book of this type takes a lot of time. Obviously, in the
future, things will change but I want to just congratulate Dr. Hidalgo
and his team in writing this book."
The book is sold on Amazon for $99.00 US dollars for the paperback and
$59.99 for the kindle version.
He served as Belize’s Prime Minister twice, first from 1984 to 1989 and again from 1993 to 1998. But aside from the brief notes on his terms in office in history books and Wikipedia, there has not been a book that reflects on the private and public life of Sir Manuel Esquivel – that is until now. Today, his wife, Kathy Esquivel, introduced a biography that describes Esquivel as a man of integrity. Here’s News Five’s Marion Ali with the story.
Kathy Esquivel, Author, Still Waters
“I think throughout the years many people have underestimated Manuel because he’s quiet, he’s humble, he’s unassuming, he never raises his voice, he doesn’t curse, he doesn’t shout. And so a lot of people throughout his time have thought that he must be a pushover and I think some people decided ‘Oh well, we can use him because he’s such a pushover.’ And then they were disabused of that impression.”
Marion Ali, Reporting
The book, “Still Waters” – a biography of the life of Belize’s second and fourth Prime Minister, Sir Manuel Esquivel, is a reflection of the life of a man known for his humility, but who was also criticized for decisions he made that many thought were unpopular. The book highlights those notable events and captures key moments in between that many of us don’t know of. Kathy Esquivel says the title best suits her husband for despite his calm disposition, he is also a force to reckon with and a romantic. She says it’s all in there.
“I’m the pragmatist. He’s the romantic. He’s the romantic. Yes, so he did take me to san Marino ‘cause he visited there as a student and he thought it was so beautiful and so many years later we did visit San Marino. One thing you’d like is also as a teacher he organized a trip to Mexico City. And someone said ‘Oh yes, I know of a bus, this Orange Walk driver – they had an old school bus. That was a trip to beat all others and you’ll see one picture in here with all of the passengers pushing this bus on one of its many breakdowns. So I put things like that in there as well as the political part.”
Doug Singh’s first impressions of the book encapsulate a portion of the book that reveals the Sir Manuel few people know.
Doug Singh, Friend of the Esquivel family
“In the very first memoir the author states and I quote; ‘Manuel’s stoic nature, unfairly portrayed as coldness by the PUP meant that he just did not like to make a fuss about anything, especially if it involved him. This is the first indication that the author is about to reveal the man you thought you knew. The man that because of his public life has been smeared with a brush and painted so many shades of gray that if you believed what was said, you really did not know Sir Manuel.”
Singh even had some advice for the U.D.P., the party which Sir Manuel first led to victory at the national polls in 1984.
“With the current problems that the U.D.P. is having, I would suggest that all those in the party leadership take a page out of this book, three pages in fact, page forty-one, forty-two and forty-three. Therein lies the blueprint of success. You will find in its inception that the party faced similar leadership challenges but was able to overcome it and became victorious. Yes, it’s in the book.”
Reporting for News Five, I’m Marion Ali.
Hard copies are available for fifty dollars each at Price and Company Limited on Daly Street, at the U.D.P. Headquarters on Youth for the Future Drive, and at book stores around the country. An electronic read is also available on Kindle for U.S. nine dollars and ninety-nine cents.