It is with deep sadness that the Esquivel family announces the death of the Rt Hon Dr. Sir Manuel Esquivel KCMG, which occurred on Feb 10, 2022. An announcement will be made in the coming days regarding his Memorial Service.
Ambergris Today extends condolences to the Esquivel family on the passing of Rt Hon. Sir Manuel Esquivel.
News Five has received reports of the death of the Rt Hon Dr. Sir Manuel Esquivel KCMG. Reports are that the Rt. Hon. Esquivel passed away this evening inside a local health care facility. Esquivel served as Prime Minister of Belize from 1984-1989 and then again from 1993 - 1998, as Leader of the United Democratic Party.
Hon. John Briceno: Our nation recognizes his service with gratitude... as an educator... an activist... as a politician... as a leader... as the 2nd Prime Minister of the nation... He stood more on his personal convictions of what needed to be done for nation and less so on political expediency. A plain speaker... with a firm grip on personal integrity.
The nation and I thank you for your service Sir Manuel Esquivel and bid you a peaceful home going. Our sincerest sympathies to Mrs. Kathy Esquivel, his daughters Ruth and Laura, his son David and his grandchildren, family, friends and the UDP family.
Rest in eternal peace.
Office of the Prime Minister Offers Condolences on the Passing of Sir Manuel Esquivel
The Office of the Prime Minister announces the death of Rt. Hon. Sir Manuel Esquivel, former Prime Minister of Belize.
Sir Manuel served as Belize’s second prime minister under the United Democratic Party from 1984-1989 and served another term from1993-1998. Sir Manuel was appointed to Her Majesty’s Privy Council by Queen Elizabeth II in 1986 and conferred the title Right Honourable.
The Prime Minister Hon. John Briceño and the Government of Belize express condolences to the family and friends of Sir Manuel Esquivel. Details of his memorial service will be shared at a later date.
The United States Embassy offers heartfelt condolences for the recent passing of former Prime Minister R.H. Sir Manuel Esquivel. Sir Esquivel’s stewardship of the country came at a pivotal time in the post-independence era. As a founding member of the United Democratic Party, he helped cement Belize’s commitment to democracy and openness to political dialogue. His legacy as an experienced statesman will endure.
Belize Tourism Board 11h · It is with profound sadness that we learn of the passing of Former Prime Minister Rt. Hon. Sir Manuel Esquivel, KCMG. We join Belizeans at home and abroad in celebrating the life of the two-time Prime Minister who led the country in its early years as a young independent nation.
Sir Esquivel was a scientist, teacher, father, patriot and a statesman. He was devoted to our country and served with pride and integrity. His disposition was humble, polite, compassionate and unassuming — qualities that we can all embrace as Belizeans in our daily lives. Rt. Hon. Sir Manuel Esquivel’s legacy and contributions will live on in Belize’s history. The Minister of Tourism and Diaspora Relations Hon. Anthony Mahler, the Board of Directors and the staff of the Belize Tourism Board extend our deepest condolences to the Esquivel family.
Re: Rt Hon. Sir Manuel Esquivel
#555553 02/11/2205:38 AM02/11/2205:38 AM
Belize’s Second Prime Minister, Sir Manuel Passes At 81
Tonight, hearts hang heavy across Belize - as Belize's second Prime Minister Sir Manuel Esquivel is dead. The 81 year old died at 4:30 this evening at Belize Medical Associates - he had been ailing for some time after a fall some months ago.
Esquivel was elected Prime Minister in 1984 - for Belize's first ever change of government, and then again in 1993, winning an unlikely victory when an over-confident George Price led PUP called a snap election.
His historical importance in post Independence Belize is hard to overstate - apart from being the first leader to make Belize's democracy real when he led the UDP to its first victory - he also took the country from the brink of devaluation shifted the country's economic focus to a more investment oriented climate - especially open to tourism investment.
But, on a personal level, Sir Manuel was about as strange a figure as one is ever likely to meet in politics. In fact, he was an anti-politician, a school teacher who taught physics and was brought into politics as a type of "Honest Abe" character by his colleagues in the untested Liberal Party - which joined a coalition to form the UDP.
He died today with an unimpeachable reputation for integrity in public life known for the dispassionate rigor in his analysis.
Today, his colleague of many decades - from the 70's to the 2000's Michael Finnegan remembered him:
Micheal Finnegan, UDP Colleague of Esquivel "This young impeccable school teacher from St. John's College rescued a united Democratic Party that was consumed with turmoil, confusion, leadership ambition and after his rescuing the party by taking over its leadership, he rescued this country from a 30 year-old entrenched PUP government and gave the United Democratic Party its first election victory in 1984. In the Esquivel era when we formed the United Democratic Party, the United Democratic Party was basically formed with Manuel Esquivel, Dean Lindo, Harry Lawrence, Paul Rodriguez, Curl Thompson, Kenneth Tillett, Lion Tillett, myself as the youngest person of the group."
"In those days politics was not what you could get from the politician, politics is what you were able to give to your political party. In those days it was a beauty to campaign along with Manuel Esquivel and the others. It was a beauty because they were actually selling people a philosophy that they believe was the right one, a philosophy of honesty, of truth and of economic development."
And from his contemporary in the formative years of the UDP, to a young man who grew up admiring the strong, stoic leader, UDP Chairman Michael Peyrefitte shared his recollection half an hour ago:
Hon. Michael Peyrefitte, UDP Party Member "Sir Manuel was a serious man, is not a trifling individual, super serious and always about integrity and principle and processes. So was not as much fun as in the word "fun" in observing Sir Manuel, but it was always great admiration and respect I had for Sir Manuel. Growing up as a young boy in 1984 when he first became prime minister, he was a stickler for principle, a stickler for honesty, for integrity and he was always used as the measuring stick by all of us in the party when you are trying to emulate someone that would be an example of what a public servant should be. Sir Manuel was always our conscience, Sir Manuel was always someone you can called in whenever we would be in trouble and the respect that he commanded and the words that he always gave us, they were always inspiring, they always made us feel proud to be members of United Democratic Party."
"My fondest memories of Sir Manuel Esquivel were centered around seeing him in action and having great admiration for a person who would stand up to anybody and to anyone for his principles and to always ensure that the best interest of Belize are always at the forefront of everything."
And, now to Esquivel in his own words. The UDP's Shane Williams produced a documentary some years ago that looked at his uniqueness and his contribution. We selected a few clips like this one where Esquivel spoke about the conflict between truth, science and propaganda:
Rt. Hon. Sir Manuel Esquivel, Fmr. Prime Minister "I immediately say the conflict between the truth of sides and the propaganda of politics and they just don't fit and I thought I could offer something being in both worlds, because we were part of a group called "the liberal party" and that was good, because its started off with a pipe dream, now I know, but it was a pipe dream. It gradually disappeared, you would left with the pipe."
Kathy Esquivel, Wife "When friends of his, at the time the People's United Party was the only party that had ever been in power and they'd been in power since self-government and so it was already 20 years and a lot of people were concerned that without a real opposition there was nothing to check wrong directions, a tendency towards one leader, anti-democracy and so I think the people that recruited Manuel that was their major concern."
Rt. Hon. Sir Manuel Esquivel, Fmr. Prime Minister "And you needed to convince people yes, we are doing the right thing, but you are doing the right thing, but not for your own benefit. As a politician you should be doing things what is the best thing for people."
Kathy Esquivel, Wife "I think he is a man of great integrity, a very firm marrow compass, he know what's right, he knows what's wrong and he is very careful not to cross the line."
Esquivel's family issued a statement this evening saying, "It is with deep sadness that the Esquivel family announces the death of the Rt Hon Dr Sir Manuel Esquivel KCMG, which occurred on Feb 10, 2022. An announcement will be made in the coming days regarding his Memorial Service." End quote.
Esquivel was the father of three children and husband to his wife Kathy. We'll have more on his passing in the days to come.
First U.D.P. Prime Minister, Sir Manuel Esquivel Passes
There is sad new for the nation tonight with the passing of former Prime Minister Manuel Esquivel. In a brief circular issued by the Leader of the Opposition, Shyne Barrow, extends condolences to the Esquivel family. Barrow wrote of Sir Manuel, “Sir Esquivel’s contributions to Belize and the United Democratic Party will forever be treasured. May your soul Rest in Peace and your memory of prudent, collective governance live on”. News Five found in our archives a story dating back to 1998, when Sir Manuel was campaigning leading into general elections that year.
“I notice you haven’t lost your confidence since the campaigning started.
Right Hon. Sir Manuel Esquivel, deceased
“No, because if anything it has gotten better. So, as we go along meeting people, the support is kind of overwhelming, so it’s very very encouraging.”
In July 2021, Sir Esquivel was the subject of a book entitled “Still Waters” a biography of his personal and political life. Manuel Esquivel was born on May second, 1940 and was Belize’s second and fourth Prime Minister, from 1984 to 1989, and then again from 1993 to 1998. He won his seat in the House of Representatives from the newly created Caribbean Shores constituency in December of 1984. In 1998 he won again in the same constituency, and in 1986, the late Sir Manuel was appointed to the Privy Council of the United Kingdom by Queen Elizabeth the Second. The late Sir Manuel is survived by his wife, Kathy, and their three children: Laura, Ruth, and David.
Belize’s Second Prime Minister, the Right Honorable Sir Manuel Esquivel Passes Away | Pt 1
Belize’s second Prime Minister, the Right Honorable Sir Manuel Esquivel has died. The 2-time prime minister was admitted at the Belize Medical Associates and had passed away just after four o’clock this evening. The 81-year-old served as the country leader from 1984 – 1989 and again for the term, 1993 to 1998. His successor as the leader of the United Democratic Party, the Right Honorable Dean Barrow told Love News that Sir Esquivel was a no-nonsense politician and leader who was committed to building Belize.
Belize’s Second Prime Minister, the Right Honorable Sir Manuel Esquivel Passes Away | Pt 2
Former Prime Minister Barrow says there is a legacy that Sir Esquivel has left behind, particularly in the post-independence era in Belize.
Belize’s Second Prime Minister, the Right Honorable Sir Manuel Esquivel Passes Away | Pt 3
The Right Honorable Dean Barrow had succeeded Sir Esquivel as the UDP Party Leader in 1998. According to Barrow, the professional relationship and influence that Esquivel had on his political career was crucial and very much appreciated.
Re: Rt Hon. Sir Manuel Esquivel
#555564 02/11/2211:21 AM02/11/2211:21 AM
Former Prime Minister Sir Manuel Esquivel passes away
On Thursday, February, 10th, Belize received the sad news of the passing of former Prime Minister Right Honourable Sir Manuel Esquivel KCMG PC. The 81-year-old former two-time head of government under the United Democratic Party (UDP), 1984-1989 and 1993-1998, reportedly died at a local health care centre in Belize City around 4:30PM, after being ill for some time. A memorial service in his honour will take place in the upcoming days.
Esquivel was born May 2, 1940 in Belize City, at a time when the country was an English colony known as British Honduras. Esquivel held an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Loyola University, along with many other accolades. His experience with politics was following the 1969 British Honduras election, when Esquivel became head of the pro-business Liberal Party. In 1973 this party merged with two other parties forming the current UDP. After being defeated in the run for the Freetown constituency against former Prime Minister Right Honourable late George Price in 1979, Esquivel became the leader of his party in 1983. This was considered historical because he was the only politician to be elected of a major Belizean political party as a senator. The following year, Esquivel became the Prime Minister when the UDP won the majority of constituencies.
Click here to read the rest of the article in the San Pedro Sun
Re: Rt Hon. Sir Manuel Esquivel
#555577 02/12/2206:13 AM02/12/2206:13 AM
Tonight, the nation is remembering The Right Honourable Sir Manuel Esquivel - the two term Prime Minister who died yesterday at the age of 81.
He led the country for 10 years post independence - twice beating the George Price led PUP to establish the UDP as a credible and capable mass party.
And while his place is etched in history - Manuel Esquivel's legacy is neither as legendary as George Price - nor are his political successes as legion as Dean Barrow.
And the reason he isn't up there in the political pantheon with Barrow, Musa and Price is because Esquivel was no kind of politician at all.
And that's what makes his perhaps the most remarkable story of all - that this quiet school teacher gained the height of national leadership twice - and he did it without any of the usual political pandering or patronage.
Today, we gathered some recollections of that unusual approach of putting country over party, and polity over politics:
Manuel Esquivel may have been the strangest politician ever - rigorous and practical, rather than pandering. Dean Barrow was his Deputy Prime Minister, understudy and eventual successor:
Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow, Former Prime Minister "There was no way he would ever take the path of least resistance he would Molly coddle no one including the voters - how the hell did such a man succeed so spectacularly to the point where he was a two-term prime minister. It has to be that perhaps because his other qualities - his non-political qualities were so extraordinary."
And probably the first question you're asking is - if he was so extraordinary - how could he retrench almost 800 public officers at Christmas of 1995?
Shane Williams, Produced Esquivel Mini-doc "Well one of the first stories I heard, can remember in news, I mean stories overall was the retrenchment story and the VAT story. So, I was in middle school at the time when even from that young age, I always knew that I would want to one day meet this man and ask him what was he thinking. So when I got the opportunity to do this interview with him when he was being honoured by Helpage, I finally got the chance to ask him and what I learn was this was a man who trapped in a conflict between the truth of science and the optics and propaganda of politics. In science you have a problem, you have a methodology and you solve it; the country was on a brink of devaluation, the solution was to put in these austerity measures and to save the country from economic crisis, but in politics, it doesn't work that way. You have to factor in how will this poll and how will this affect the next election, so I learn within an hour that Mr. Esquivel was no politician."
Henry Young, Esquivel Cabinet 1993 - 1998 "During the tie of the retrenchment, he did not show how much it affected him, but I am certain in my dealings with him that it affected him gravely;"
Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow, Former Prime Minister "None of us wished the retrenchment, I think we all accepted after he laid there all the facts that retrenchment was necessary, but there was then an issue as to the timing - it came around Christmas time - and we were saying well surely you can wait until sometime into the new year and Manuel Esquivel being Manuel Esquivel said no, this has to happen "I'm not going to waffle, I'm not going to not play it absolutely straight, I'm not going to postponed the inevitable, we are going to do this now and we will take our licks, we expect that people will understand, because people are thinking sentient human beings" so he refused to see matters through a political lens and while it could be infuriating, ultimately you ended up having to respect the man."
But that respect is mostly retrospective - at the time - he was loathed - and the UDP was savaged in the general election of a few years later. You can't mince words, Esquivel was a political failure:
Rt. Hon. Manuel Esquivel, Fmr. Prime Minister "I had very little interest in propaganda and for many people that was a handicap, because people love propaganda, but and you needed to convince people yes we are doing the right thing, but you're doing the right thing, but not for your own benefit. As a politician you should be doing things what is going to be the best thing for people."
Jules Vasquez "You and Manuel Esquivel are the strangest people to ever enter politics."
Melvin Hulse, Served in Esquivel Cabinet "I know, two non-political people."
Jules Vasquez "Two of the most mismatched people for politics."
Melvin Hulse, Served in Esquivel Cabinet "I agree with you."
Jules Vasquez "The consistently is that neither of you all were able to stay in politics for long periods, unlike people like Said Musa, Dean Barrow, George Price."
Melvin Hulse, Served in Esquivel Cabinet "Because it was about politics."
Jules Vasquez "And you all were lousy at politics."
Melvin Hulse, Served in Esquivel Cabinet "We are lousy, we are complete disaster and failure as politicians, done."
A failure as a politician perhaps but an impeccable public figure - a man who defined integrity and rejected venality:
Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow, Former Prime Minister "It's not something he had to trumpet, it's not something he had to noise abroad, because it was so inherent in him. That was Manuel Esquivel. That is clearly the most outstanding attribute that possess and it was so easily and naturally identified with him that enough said. No need for anything more."
Michael Finnegan, Esquivel Cabinet '93 - 98 "The country was ready for his integrity. The country was ready for his honesty. The country was ready for a new direction. In my view the country was ready for Manuel Esquivel new direction."
And that direction often meant a head on collision against some tough challenges. And that's where Esquivel proved that he was also a strong leader right off the bat when he took office in 1984:
Rt. Hon. Manuel Esquivel, Fmr. Prime Minister "What we inherited when we came into power, the day we took office the IMF came to the government and said listen, this is what you're going to do. So immediately there was no room to develop. They said this is the state you are in and this is our solution."
Jules Vasquez "You know he went through some stressful times, certainly 1994 coming into office and when you go to work you meet the IMF there and I know that the confrontations with the Ashcroft Alliance that was in the second term was very stressful. We had the golden share had been sold. They had the Sealey shares at BEL. What you recall of him in those times of extreme stress and having to face off worthy adversaries, formidable adversaries?"
Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow, Former Prime Minister "The man was pure steel in those circumstances and I will say he also had the great comfort of being able to rely in terms of dealing with the IMF, in terms of dealing with the Ashcroft Alliance. On his life-long friend, one Net Vasquez, Net was as you would know better than anyone else absolutely, not mercurial, but passionate, driven, exuberant - Manuel was the polar opposite, but together they made one hell of a team the like of which will not be replicated in this country."
So, in the broad view, Esquivel was a man apart - and surely not the kind that we'll see in public life again:
Shane Williams, Produced Esquivel Mini-doc "And one thing that was different about him, he had to leave his job, he had to end his career, he leave his pension to enter into something that is not promised. You cannot be certain that you will be successful as a politician and to leave such a successful career, nobody would ever do something like that I can assure you that."
Henry Young, Esquivel Cabinet 1993 - 1998 "He has been able to not mix his emotions with his ability to manage the country. We had a group of people that I think has shown themselves to be nationals more than political persons."
Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow, Former Prime Minister "This is what made this man so absolutely, so absolutely superior."
PM Briceno Remembers Esquivel’s Kindness
And while those are UDP personalities reminiscing about Esquivel's singular traits, he also holds an important place for the PUP.
Esquivel was the first to break the PUP's 30 year hold on power in 1984, and he proved that it wasn't a fluke when he did it again in 1993 - stealing a victory in a snap election.
Indeed he earned the respect of his political opponents as a leader who the voting public trusted, and, today, Prime Minister John Briceno reminisced on Sir Manuel's famous practicality making and the kindness that the elder statesman showed him as a young politician.
Hon. John Briceno, Prime Minister of Belize "Sir Manuel Esquivel you want to think almost comes from a different generation, a generation where integrity matters, a generation where your word is very important, a generation where country comes first before party politics and we should never forget those things about Sir Manuel Esquivel."
"When we, when I first started, when I was elected in 1993 he was the Prime Minister and of course like in everything he was tough in the house but whenever, the few times that we were together he was always kind and prepared to talk with me."
"When we had the Maritime sea areas or it was a Bill at that time, and he joined the PUP in trying to get that bill passed through the national assembly and there were these country wide consultations and he joined Said Musa and the PUP and when he was in Orange Walk I went to listen to him ant people's stadium and I spoke to him afterwards and I thanked him for joining this move and he looked at me kind of like strange and he said what do you expect, this is something of national importance and country comes first."
"When you hear people like the late Net Vasquez and even Melvin Hulse, whenever they talk about Manuel Esquivel you hear this sense of loyalty for this man. He was a leader that was worth their loyalty, that you don't and that's laudable in a man and i'm sure that Lady Kathy and her entire family must be very proud of the accomplishments of Belize's second Prime Minister."
The PM also indicated that a quote: "state celebration", something of a happy sendoff for the late Rt. Hon Sir Manuel will be held on Wednesday where the statesman and Prime Minister will be given full honors. His wife Kathy told us that Sir Manuel wanted to be sent off with a concert.
CARICOM Honors Sir Manuel
And we close tonight with one more remembrance of Sir Manuel, Belize's second and fourth Prime Minister who died yesterday. A short while ago, the CARICOM Secretary General, Dr Carla Barnett issued a statement, saying, quote,
"I viewed Sir Manuel as a calm, thoughtful leader whose importance to the evolution of an independent Belize cannot be overestimated. His scientific training imbued his actions with a deliberate logic which allied to his personal integrity and honesty made him a formidable presence in Belize's public life.
I extend deepest condolences to Lady Kathy and the Esquivel family and to the Government and People of Belize on the loss of Sir Manuel who was truly a fine example of what a life in public service should be."
Today, when we spoke to former Prime Minister Dean Barrow, he gave us one anecdote that succinctly captured Esquivel's unflappability:
Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow, Former Prime Minister "We were one time in El Salvador on some official visit and a bunch of us in an elevator and the elevator got stuck. Now, 6-7 persons in an elevator you can imagine even if you're not claustrophobic you starting sweating. Manuel did not break into any kind of a sweat when I am there getting anxious and when they will fix this damn thing - had not a problem, just stood there almost unperturbed and ultimately you know he was a physicist, he did something and open the elevator door, but its not just that, its the fact that throughout we were there half an hour and he was utterly unmoved."
Reports suggest Barrow will be asked to speak at the Esquivel memorial next week.
There has been an outpouring of condolences since the announcement was made on Thursday evening of the death of former two-time Prime Minister, Sir Manuel Esquivel. Sir Manuel was Belize’s first Prime Minister following Belize’s Independence in 1984 and again in 1993. He passed away on Thursday. News Five’s Marion Ali has put together the following tribute to Sir Manuel.
Marion Ali, Reporting
He was Belize’s Prime Minister when Queen Elizabeth the Second visited in October of 1985 and again in February of 1994, and he met with the leaders and dignitaries of many countries during his terms in office. And in 1986, Her Majesty, the Queen appointed Sir Manuel to Her Privy Council in 1986, conferring upon him the title of Right Honourable. Now, on the occasion of his death, the Offices of the Governor General, the Prime Minister, and the Leader of the Opposition are among the many that have sent notes of condolences. Prime Minister John Briceño says that Sir Manuel was of upstanding character and was an approachable person.
Prime Minister John Briceño
“The few times that I’ve met with him he was always kind and prepared to talk with me. I remember distinctly – and that was before 1993, that was the first real interaction I had with him when there was the Maritime Areas Bill at that time – trying to get that Bill passed through the National Assembly and there were these countrywide consultations and he joined Said Musa and the P.U.P. And when I was in Orange Walk I went to listen to him at the People’s Stadium and I spoke to him afterwards and I thanked him for joining this move. And he looked at me kinda strangely and said “Well, what did you expect? This is something of national importance, and country comes first.”
Former Prime Minister, Right Honourable Dean Barrow, who served as Deputy Prime Minister under Sir Manuel’s tenure, says while many leaders are unique in their own way, Sir Manuel stood out for the same reason, he was a man of principle:
Right Honourable Dean Barrow, Former Prime Minister
“There was never any question but that he was possessed of the utmost integrity, not just on a personal level, but as leader of our party, as leader of the country.
He was straightforward in making it clear to his colleagues, to his ministers, “Do not bring to me, Esquivel as Prime Minister, any proposal that cannot pass the smell test. I won’t even discuss it and if you bring it, not only will I reject it out of hand, but there will be consequences to you,” the person that dared to bring such a proposal. That absolute rectitude, that complete rigor, when it came to principle, was what I think was above all, distinguished him from all the rest of us.”
But not only was Sir Manuel considered by his successors, party supporters and fellow politicians as a man of high integrity, but his family who knew him best say his humility and soft-spoken voice was not to be mistaken for him being weak. Kathy Esquivel recently wrote a biography of her husband entitled “Still Waters.”
Kathy Esquivel, Wife of Sir Manuel
“I suppose in politics, sometimes you can either do what’s politically expedient or what’s best for the country and on many occasions he did what was best for the country and sometimes that is not always politically popular in the short term. In the long term now everybody says “Oh, yes, yes! He was so great!”
Sir Manuel’s uprightness was tested once, when former Prime Minister, Right Honourable Dean Barrow was the Foreign Minister. He recalled the occasion.
Right Honourable Dean Barrow
“Some dignitary had come to see him and the dignitary had first been to see me as Foreign Minister and then went up to see Sir Manuel as Prime Minister. That meeting concluded and within five minutes or so, Esquivel sent for me. He said, “Look, this man left me a book as a present,” and when I opened the book to page through it, here it is – the envelope was in it with X amount of dollars. “You, Mr. Foreign Minister, you send somebody to chase down his vehicle and bring him back here so that I can say to him, ‘What you did is reprehensible. Do not ever seek to visit me again as Prime Minister. Take you filthy, dirty money and get the hell out of my office and get the hell out of Belize.”
Sir Manuel will be laid to rest on Wednesday, and while Prime Minister Briceño has indicated it will be a state event, it will not be a funeral, as Mrs. Esquivel told us.
“We didn’t want a church service. He wanted a concert with all the music he loved and that’s what we’re gonna do.”
“Wow! Okay, can I ask what type of music that is?”
“Oh, a wide variety, not hiphop and maybe not rap because he was in his eighties, (chuckles) but – a wide variety.”
“His wife has asked that Sir Manuel wanted more a happy send-off and so we will have that with full honours.”
The celebration of his life will be held on Wednesday at nine in the morning, but the venue is yet to be announced. Sir Manuel Esquivel was eighty-one years old. He is survived by his wife, Kathy, son David, daughters Laura and Ruth and eight grandchildren.
Sir Manuel Esquivel to be honoured with State Memorial
The Office of the Prime Minister informs the public that the Prime Minister Hon. John Briceño has designated a period of mourning from Monday, February 14 to Wednesday, February 16, 2022, in honour of the Rt. Hon. Dr. Sir Manuel Esquivel, KCMG, PC, former prime minister of Belize. As such, the Prime Minister has ordered all Belizean flags flown at half-mast for three days.
The Government of Belize has planned a state memorial for Sir Manuel Esquivel who died on February 10, 2022, in Belize City, Belize. The former prime minister will be accorded a memorial event on Wednesday, February 16, 2022, at the Government House in Belize City. Below is the order of events.
• February 15 – The urn containing the remains of the Rt. Hon. Dr. Sir Manuel Esquivel, KCMG, PC, will be transported via Cortège (Procession) to the former State Dining Room at the Government House, where it will lie in state. The paying of respects by invited guests only will commence at 2:00 p.m. and end at 4:00 p.m.
• February 16 – Cortège (Procession) to the House of Culture in Belize City, commencing at 2:10 p.m. from the home of the former head of government, followed by a memorial service at 3:00 p.m.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, all events are closed to the public. The public is invited to view live coverage of the two-day event via the Facebook and YouTube pages of the Government of Belize Press Office or via live television broadcasts from all major media houses.
The Rt. Hon. Dr. Sir Manuel Esquivel, KCMG, PC, served as Prime Minister of Belize from 1984 to 1989, and then again from 1993 to 1998.
Re: Rt Hon. Sir Manuel Esquivel
#555610 02/15/2205:35 AM02/15/2205:35 AM
State Memorial for Right Honorable Sir Manuel Esquivel on Tuesday and Wednesday
The official details on the state memorial for the late Right Honorable Doctor Sir Manuel Esquivel have been released. And, the two day celebration of his life begins on Tuesday, at one p.m. when his remains will lie in state at the House of Culture in Belize City. News Five’s Duane Moody reports.
A two-day state memorial has been accorded to former two-time Prime Minister Doctor Sir Manuel Esquivel. It’s the highest honor given by the Government of Belize to former and sitting governor generals, prime ministers and sitting members of the House of Representatives.
Tasha Cain, Head of Protocol & Consular Unit, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
“With a state funeral, it is very specific to former heads of government and heads of state or suiting.”
Duane Moody (stand up)
Following a cortege which will commence from the family home on Daly Street in Belize City on Tuesday, the remains of Esquivel will lie in state inside the state room here at the House of Culture in Belize City. The ceremony will begin at two p.m., when government officials will pay respect to Esquivel.
“We’ve invited a few government officials. The Prime Minister, Leader of the Opposition, Mayor of Belize City, Cabinet members, members of the House of Representatives and Senate to participate in the lying in state which is a feature of a state event such as this. It’s not a state funeral; that has been explained – it is a memorial. It doesn’t have any of the trappings of a usual funeral, but for an event that is a state funeral or a state event, this is a key feature. It will have a guard protecting it and floral arrangements and persons will come in to pay their respects as well as sign a condolence book that will be given to the family.”
Then on Wednesday, the state memorial takes place. As the cortege (also known as procession) makes its way to the House of Culture once again, the tolling of church bells will be done along the route.
“Because of the COVID situation we have not been able to open these events to the public. Persons of course, could line the streets; we are not necessarily encouraging crowds to come out. But we have seen in past events that persons still come and want to pay their respects. The route that will have the cortege is from Daly Street onto Queen Street across the Swing Bridge (counter to traffic of course); down Regent Street. So on Tuesday for the lying in state, it will be a motorcade, but on Wednesday, we’ll have more of the official portion where an officer in the B.D.F. will be carrying the remains in an urn the entire duration of the route that has been outlined.”
There will be an official military order of events which will include the march on guard of honor, followed by the national anthem and the twenty-one gun salute. There will be a moment of silence before the reveille. Government officials including Prime Minister John Briceño, Governor General Froyla T’zalam, Leader of the Opposition Shyne Barrow and another parliamentarian will lay wreaths followed by the presentation of the Belize flag, departure of officials and the march of by the Belize Defense Force. Duane Moody for News Five.
And now, an update on the memorial service for Right Honourable Sir Manuel Esquivel, the two term Prime Minister who died last week at the age of 81.
First off, he will be honored with a State Memorial on Wednesday afternoon at the Government House in Belize City. That means there will be no state funeral - that is, no church service. Instead, Sir Manuel - as was his wish - will be honored with a concert by leading musicians, and a eulogy by his son David, with remembrances by former Prime Minster Dean Barrow, and the current PM John Briceno.
Second, Sir Manuel has been cremated - so his body will not lie in state, per se - instead an urn with his remains will lie in state at the Government House. That will happen tomorrow, Tuesday, and due to COVID-19 restrictions, members of the public will not be able to go and pay their respects - only invited persons will be able to do so. But, the whole thing including the procession will be carried live on all media and on our social media pages, so you can watch from home starting tomorrow at about 1:30 pm.
And the State Memorial will take place on Wednesday - preceded by a procession from Sir Manuel's home on Daly Street. That will be followed by the concert and speeches on the stage at the Government House. Again, it is only open to about 150 invited persons - but it will be live on TV and social media starting at 2:00 pm.
Tour Operators, who operate in the downtown Belize City area, are hereby advised that operations beyond 2:00 PM may be affected on Tuesday, February 15 & Wednesday, February 16, 2022 due to the closure of Daly Street, Queen Street and Albert Street to facilitate the State Funeral of the late Rt. Hon Manuel Esquivel.
Traffic Notice from the Belize City Council for the State Memorial of Rt. Hon. Dr. Sir Manuel Esquivel:
Re: Rt Hon. Sir Manuel Esquivel
#555624 02/15/2201:11 PM02/15/2201:11 PM
Tonight, the remains of the late Rt. Hon Sir Manuel Esquivel have returned to his family home at #8 Daly street, the house in which the former PM lived, humbly excelled through a remarkable life, and spent his final years.
But those remains made quite a journey today, briefly leaving the home to lie in state at Belize's Government house.
And that's how Sir Manuel's Family along with the government staged the first part of a stately send-off that is quite a unique and markedly secular twist on the state funeral of a former Prime Minister.
And on one of the bleakest days of the year, the country finds itself in mourning, mourning for a Knight under the order of Saint Micheal and Saint James, a reluctant politician, a quiet scientist, a teacher, a leader who proved Belize did have a working two party democracy, and a man devoted to both country and family.
Here's a look at the events of the day:
The Procession started out at the Esquivel family home at #8 Daily street where the Urn party led by Major Rueben Cowo went upstairs and picked up Sir Manuel's ashes.
The cortege went down the street, rounded the corner onto Queen Street and made its way across the Swing Bridge.
It proceeded down Albert street all the way to the Government House and was taken inside where it was received by the chief mourner Lady Esquivel.
From there a number of government officials and invited guests came to pay their last respects including the Chief Justice, Prime Minister John Briceno, and Former Prime Minister Dean Barrow who stopped for a moment in front of the urn as well as many Cabinet members.
But perhaps the most poignant moment was when long time Esquivel Political comrade Michael Finnegan went and stood at attention in front of the Urn to give a tearful goodbye.
Michael Finnegan, Esquivel's Political Comrade "On behalf of my family and the people I love closely, I want to say that we love the earth you walked on. Goodbye my friend."
Tomorrow's State Memorial for Sir Manuel starts at 2:10 pm - again with a procession form his home.
It will be marked by the tolling of the bells along the route of a second cortege that will once again move from the Esquivel Daly street home to the grounds of the government house.
And the country will say Goodbye to the late Prime Minister as he wished with a musical concert staged to celebrate his life.
Finally, Sir Manuel's Family and friends will witness a traditional BDF 21-cannon gun salute before being presented with the Belizean flag, a token of his service to the nation.
Late PM Esquivel’s Remains Lying in State; Belizean Leader Pay Respects
It was a sombre moment today as the remains of two-time Prime Minister Doctor Sir Manuel Esquivel were escorted to the House of Culture in Belize City for the official viewing. The two-day event culminates on Wednesday with a ceremonial send off, and is part of a state memorial that has been accorded for the late Sir Manuel Esquivel and which will be carried live on this station. News Five’s Duane Moody reports on day one.
Duane Moody, Reporting
The state memorial for the late Doctor Sir Manuel Esquivel commenced at one p.m. sharp. As Lady Kathy Esquivel and one of her daughters were escorted into a waiting pickup, out came four B.D.F. soldiers – one of whom carried the remains of the former two-time Prime Minister in an urn. As the national anthem was played by the B.D.F. band, it was a solemn moment as residents stood watch while his children and grandchildren walked behind them. The motorcade travelled down Queen Street over the Swing Bridge and onto Albert Street before making its way to the final stop at the House of Culture on Regent Street. While vehicle traffic was barred from obstructing the path of the motorcade, some residents braved the rains to witness the event.
Norman Rodriguez, Attorney-at-law
“I remember running in the Belize City council elections in 1996 and 2003 and I still have the letter that he signed thanking me for participating and contributing where I can. It is really a sad day to see someone like Sir Doctor Manuel Esquivel leaving us the way he did. He had a lot to offer and I was able to glean some of that history from him. So it is really a sad day and personally I think he stands out as the best prime minister this country has seen. I don’t think many people would argue with that.”
Due to COVID regulations, At the House of Culture, the white picket fence and the military and police guards separated a few residents who carried umbrellas, paying their respects from a distance.
Dalton Franklin, Belize City Resident
“I am just out here to pay my respect for a past leader of the country, for a man who some might say didn’t do much good. But to me, everyone who leaves the country did something good for the country, so I am just here to pay my respect for a man who served the country.”
“You have any memory of him, when he was a leader? How old were you when that…”
“Well I would say I was a young boy. I was early teenager so I won’t have many fond memories, but the only memories that sticks around would be the one that they broadcast on the news. I won’t say what it is, everyone know what they broadcast on the news. But I would say there are better things to say about the man so I would not say that.”
The official viewing began just after two p.m. when Prime Minister John Briceño was escorted into the state room inside the House of Culture. The media wasn’t allowed to enter the compound, but we did manage to capture the arrivals. Leader of the Opposition Shyne Barrow was also among the list of government officials to attend.
Shyne Barrow, Leader of the Opposition
“He did not want a funeral; he wanted a celebration with musicians. That we had in common, I being a musician and very passionate for the fine arts. What I contemplate about Sir Doctor Esquivel as I had said in my Facebook post was his prudent and collective governance. In speaking to people who were there in that era, one of the things that was most noteworthy about his leadership is the fact that he did not do things for individuals, but he did things for the collective. So it was never about a quid pro quo as much as it was about the nation and having systematic impact, collective impact. And so it is something that inspires me because I like to think of myself more so as a nationalist as a patriot that thinks about all Belizeans.”
Doctor Sir Manuel Esquivel had wanted to be a physicist and shared his love of science with his students. He later got involved politics and went on to become Prime Minister in 1984 and then again in 1993. Union Senator and National President of the Belize National Teachers Union, Elena Smith also paid her respects to the former physics teacher.
Senator Elena Smith, National President, B.N.T.U.
“Not everybody may have appreciated his leadership style and the way he managed things when he was the Prime Minister, but I think for the most part we have not heard too many negative things about his leadership. And so this is a time for us to pay tribute to his work, to his contributions to our country. But also for me, he was a teacher so for me as a teacher and as the leader of the teachers union, I thought it just fitting for me to be here – not only as a parliamentarian, but also in my role as a teacher and as union leader as well.
having had a teacher rise up to that rank, it is our hope and I hope it is the hope of our younger teachers that one day – I may be too old for that now – but there must be somebody in the profession who may have that kind of aspiration and can one day also become the prime minister of our country.”
U.D.P. Stalwart Michael Finnegan Salutes Esquivel
A number of prominent U.D.P. members attended today’s event, including Albert Area Representative, Tracy Panton, and U.D.P. stalwart and former party whip, Michael Finnegan, who was joined by Philip Willoughby. In the company of Esquivel’s youngest daughter Ruth, an emotional Finnegan saluted and bid farewell to the former P.M.
Michael Finnegan, U.D.P. Stalwart
“Behalf of my family and the people I love closely, I want to say that we love the earth that you walked on. Goodbye my friend.”
“Sir, I heard your very moving remarks with the urn of Sir Manuel. What was the message that you had to give? Why was it important for you to come here at do it?”
“Because I believe that all he went through and what all the naysayers had to say and what they are saying now and all the political pundits, I said to him just now that history has absolved you. And I said to him finally that on behalf of myself and my family and my broader family that we loved the earth he walked on.”
Cabinet Ministers Pay Their Respects to Sir Manuel
Simultaneously across from the House of Culture, in the new building on the compound, a cabinet session took place. Prime Minister John Briceño took a break at two p.m. and was escorted into the building where the official viewing began. Other dignitaries, including Leader of the Opposition Shyne Barrow, Chief Justice Michelle Arana, and Belize City Mayor Bernard Wagner arrived to pay their respects. Just after three p.m., at the conclusion of the cabinet meeting, government ministers then made their way into the House of Culture to pay their respects. Here are some of the notable moments.