At PUP Headquarters over the Belize Times offices.
Said Musa to the far right and a lieutenant of Mr. Price on the far left, Joe Erales
The Original People's United Party Headquarters located on Queen Street, was also known as Independence Hall. The upstairs was also used as a boxing gym in the 1960's.
Hector Silva: This was the PUP's home for many years. I remember working on the lower flat when I wrote articles for the Belize Times, and translated Mr. Price's Articles and messages to the Districts from English to Spanish in early 1957.
On the right hand side was the Barber Shop of the great and Brave Hero Tony Soberanis."Panama Barber Shop"
After I did my job, I would go over by Don Tony and I would listen to his interesting life story.
WHAT A GREAT MAN. What a great Political Mentor I had.
The building, in the center of this picture, is one of the most important buildings in the history of Belize.
It was known as The Thistle Hall, where the PUP was founded on September 29th, 1950 to lead the movement for Belize's independence. The reason for this venue was, on the 25th of September, 1950, all arrangements had been made to celebrate the convention, that would form the People's United Party, at the Battle Field Park, in Belize City.
There came a message, from the colonial government in Belize, that the People's Committee could not make use of the park, because of urgent repairs necessary.
So the Secretary of the People's Committee, George Price, hurriedly made arrangements with the Kyttle Brothers, to use the large Thistle Hall, at the corner of Queen's Street and New Road. It was held with great success.
Some of the PUP founding officials and members, early 1950's. Also a little history about The People's United Party including Thistle Hall
RIVERSIDE HALL, North Front Street, Belize City. PUP CONVENTION 1956. George Price elected MAXIMUM LEADER OF THE PUP.
THIS WAS THE HISTORICAL CONVENTION IN 1956, HELD AT THE RIVERSIDE HALL, IN BELIZE CITY, WHEN THE HONORABLE GEORGE PRICE WAS ELECTED, AS THE MAXIMUM LEADER OF THE PEOPLE'S UNITED PARTY.
(I was privileged to sit among the Top Advisers of the Party.)
The white hair man, Chairman Alfred Bevans. Former Magistrate Jim Meighan, Hector Silva (Me the youngest one), Boss Mr. Fred Westby, PUP Legal Adviser Ewart Francis, and other Senior members of the PUP.
These were the days when we the young were guided by the advice of our Elders. HENCE in 34 years the PUP WON ALL ELECTIONS, General and Municipal, until 1984, when the young ones thought they were infallible.
FOR ANY DOUBTING THOMAS'S, READ IT IN THE BILLBOARD.
On the 29th of September 1950, the People United Party was founded at the THISTLE HALL on Queen Street. Extrated from the Belize Billboard of October 1st, 1950.
A little history about PUP, The People's United Party
Many have not been told that there was a begining to the struggle for Belize 's Independence.
Many have not been told the real reasons, why this struggle was founded.
YES, this struggle was founded, as a result of the suffering of our Belizean people, under the Yoke of Colonialism.
This struggle was led by the People's United Party and named as "THE PEACEFUL AND CONSTRUCTIVE BELIZEAN REVOLUTION"
This struggle was led by FIVE YOUNG BELIZEAN PATRIOTS,--- - -George Price,- Phillip Goldson,- Leigh Richardson,- John Smilth, and young Nicholas Pollard.
As we go along, I will relate this story as no other Belizean can, as i was in the middle of the wheel, watching as it spun around.
I am humbled but proud to say THAT I WAS THERE IN PERSON.
THE PUP WAS FOUNDED NOT BY DESIGN, BUT AS A PROTECTOR OF OUR PEOPLE against INJUSTICES and a LIBERATOR from the YOKE OF COLONIALISM.
From its inception, the PUP came under attack by the Colonial Regime and its LOCAL COLLABORATORS.
1. On September 29th, the Colonial Boot Lickers, denied the use of the Battlefield, to the People's Committee, to found the PEOPLES UNITED PARTY. ( But the Committee immediately found an alternative place, "THE LARGE THISTLE HALL." on Queen's Street, Belize City.
2. In 1952, the PUP won a majority of seats in the Belize City Council. National Party Councillor, Herbert Fuller, moved a Motion, asking that a Portrait of King George VI be hanged on the Wall of City Hall.
The PUP Majority refused on grounds that Belize City was being denied the BASIC NECESSITIES.
Governor Thornley DISSOLVED THE CITY COUNCIL.
3. In 1954, the Colonial Regime demanded that, the PUP FLY the UNION JACK at all its Public Meetings. The PUP REFUSED.
SO, Mr. John Smith, the FIRST PUP LEADER resigned, and the PUP elected Mr Leigh Richardson, as the second Leader of the PUP.
4. In 1956, the Colonial Regime penetrated some of the Leaders of the PUP, to object to the PUP Policy, against FEDERATION.
This created a RIFT in the PUP. So at a Convention of the PUP, RICHARDSON, GOLDSON and others were EXPELLED.
5. In 1957, The PUP Leaders in London were told by Guatemala Ambassador Jorge Garcia Granados, that Guatemala had made a proposal to the British Secretary of State for the Colonies in London. Because of this LEAK the Secretary of State broke the CONFERENCE and sent back the Belize Delegation.
6. George Price and Mr Albert Cattouse returned from London and were greeted by thousands of Belizeans at the Majestic yard.
This vexed the Colonial Governor, who thought that George Price was finished.
7. The Colonial Governor expelled Mr. Price from the Executive Council and replaced him with Hon Enrique Depaz. This caused another RIFT in the PUP. Hon Denbigh Jeffery and others, also left the PUP. I and other young men like San Perdomo, Jesus Ken, and Guadalupe Pech replaced them.
8. Having tried so many maneuvers to destroy George Price, the Colonial Office sent a Senior Scotland Yard Operative, who along with Senior Belize Officers planned to entrap Mr. Price by concocting a FALSE CHARGE OF SEDITIOUS INTENT against Her Majesty the Queen. The charge became known as the TOILET PAPER CHARGE.
9. One Morning when Mr. Price was making his daily prayers at Holy Redeemer Cathedral, Dover, Senior Superintendent of Police Buntin Fuller and a squad of Police entered the Cathedral and Arrested Mr. Price, charging him with SEDITION (Twenty years if found guilty).
10. THE BIG ONE. ( The Trial in the Supreme Court. ) The biggest trial in Belize's History. and the most dangerous moment.)
THE BIG ONE. - THE TRIAL OF THE CENTURY.- DESTROY GEORGE PRICE SHOUTED THE H.I.P's. ( Honduras Independence Party ) led by Richardson. "I have cleaned his CELL" - said a 'Price Hater' Prison Warden.
FAST FORWARD TO THE NIGHT OF THE VERDICT.
After hearing the evidence by the CROWN, our Brilliant Lawyer, Sir Harrison Courtney, called us the Witnesses for Mr. Price, one by one.
THE SKY WAS DENSE, there must have been present, at the Battle Field Park, the whole of Belize, and hundreds more from the Districts.
This was the night when the FATE OF THE PUP was at STAKE.
BUT, ( I am now free to say this.)
THIS WAS THAT NIGHT, WHEN GOVERNMENT BUILDINGS WOULD DISAPPEAR BY FIRE.
The Old Hero had arranged the deployment of some120 single gallons of Gasoline and matches, strategically throughout the City.
IF you dropped a PIN, you could hear it from a distance.
THE JURY WAS LOCKED about Five in the evening. By Nine PM there was a VERDICT. "NOT GUILTY ON ALL COUNTS.
There was a ROAR at that Park, that will never be heard again in the History of Belize.
Mr. Price was raised on the arms of such powerful Marshalls, like Regie Faber and others and marched with thousands of the PUP FAITHFUL to the Queen's Street Headquarters.
Here is a copy of the Summons given to Mr Price, with the names of us the witnesses.
ALL ATTEMPTS BY THE COLONIAL OFFICE (along with local Collaborators) TO DESTROY GEORGE PRICE, FAILED. SO, what next?
WHEN ALL ATTEMPTS FAILED TO DESTROY GEORGE PRICE, THE COLONIAL OFFICE TRIED THIS ONE: "MAKE WE SHARE THE BLAME."
On the 27th of December of 1958, the PUP soundly defeated all the smaller Political Parties COMBINED, by winning ALL MUNICIPAL ELECTIONS.
In early 1959, the British Governor invited our Party Leader, for a UNITED FRONT MEETING with British Minister, Sir John Profumo, along with the Leaders of the smaller parties, NIP, CDP and WIP. The pretext was, to form a United Front against the Threat from Guatemala.
Party Leader George called a meeting at his home to plan strategy and the PUP response.
It was agreed that the PUP would meet the Minister separate from the small Parties. The PUP suspected that this was a plan to give CREDIBILITY to the smaller Parties. Why did they need the PUP to unite with Parties, with a total different view on the Sovereignty and Territorial Integrity of BELIZE?
So the Party decided to send a delegation, made up of Louis Sylvester, Tony Meighan, Albert Cattouse and Hector Silva.
We met Minister Profumo at Government House. We listened to his proposals, we had exchange of views and presented the PUP STRONG STAND ON, " WE WANT IMMEDIATE FULL INTERNAL SELF GOVERNMENT FOR BELIZE."
Profumo's last words were: "Unfortunately, this was a lost opportunity for a United Belize."
LITTLE STORIES THAT HAVE NEVER BEEN TOLD, NOR WRITTEN until today. AND there are so many.
This is to enlighten Belizeans, on the art of survival and triumph.
In the early 1950, when Belizeans began to PLAN and AGITATE for the eventual Independence of British Honduras, obstacles were placed by the Colonial Powers.
Among the many obstacles were such as, denying the use of the only radio station BHBS ( British Honduras Broadcasting Station ) and certain areas like near Government House, Colonial Secretary Offices etc.
But the Leaders of the PUP, began to look for sites where to meet the People.
Among them were MAJESTIC YARD, - POUND YARD - YABRA GREEN, - CINDERELLA PLAZA, - CORNER VICTORIA / NEW ROAD, - and the prohibited COURT HOUSE PLAZA. - - -
( They didn't like the word PLAZA.)
This word Plaza and Battle Field did not fit well with Colonial Regime. For this site was the place that drew MONSTER CROWDS at the PUP Meetings.
For the Records - When the PUP was going to have its Founding Convention on September 29th,1950, the Colonial Government denied the use of the Battle Field, with the pretext, that they had to do some repairs in the area. ( Big Lie )
But the PUP immediately made arrangements with the friendly Kyttle Brothers, ( SAM and ERIC Kyttle, owners of the large Dance Hall on Queen Street,) to have its Convention there. - ( It was a great Success.) - For History's sake because Records may have been lost, and you will not get it any where else.. )
BY THE WAY, ON SEPTEMBER 29th, THE PUP 70 th BIRTH DAY, I INTEND TO DONATE TO THE PUP SECRETARIAT THE STORY OF THE PUP IN PICTURES, from its beginning. ( As I collected them, I saved them for posterity. )
The picture below is that of Minister John Profumo.
THE STRUGGLE FOR BELIZE'S INDEPENDENCE WAS THIRTY ONE YEARS. 1950 to 1981.
by Hector Silva
Please listen to this breakdown.
From 1950 to 1960 was a period of Trials and Tribulations. The People's United Party was under heavy attack, by the Colonial Regime. As it gained strength, so it was politically attacked from within and without.
First attack against the PUP was, in 1952, when the PUP won a MAJORITY of seats in the Belize City Council.
The opposition members presented a MOTION, no doubt under the instruction of the Colonial Secretary requesting councilors to display a PORTRAIT of King George, at CITY HALL.
City Councillor, George C. Price asked, "what was the reason for such as request now, when it had not been done before ?"
Further more said the PUP Councillors, NOT UNTIL BETTER ATTENTION WAS GIVEN TO THE NEEDS of THE BELIZE CITY PEOPLE, such as, water, electricity, jobs, streets and other needs.
This infuriated, the all POWERFUL COLONIAL GOVERNOR, RONALD GARVEY. SO, HE DISSOLVED THE COUNCIL IN 1952.
AGAIN in 1952, a High Ranking PUP Member, no doubt at the request of the Colonial Office, requested the PUP, to fly the Union Jack at its Public Meetings (British Flag at their Public Meetings.) THE PUP blankly refused this request. The PUP MEMBER RESIGNED.
FAST FORWARD TO 1956, when the matter of the Colonial West Indian Federation surfaced, whereby the Colonial Office wanted to bring 400,000 Poor West Indians to settle in Belize and 600,000 in British Guiana.- Cheap labor for the Exploiting Companies.
THE PUP BLANKLY OPPOSED IT, VEHEMENTLY and held large DEMONSTRATIONS.
Suddenly, TWO of the HIGH RANKING LEADERS of the PUP who supported this policy, were EXPELLED from the PUP, at the Riverside Hall in mid 1956. (Mr Richardson and Mr Goldson and others.).
THIS INFURIATED the BRITISH COLONIAL OFFICE so MUCH. that they decided to DESTROY GEORGE PRICE.
Then we had the failed London Talks, the Arrest of George Price, and the cause of further defections from the PUP.
SO, THE PUP SPENT TEN YEARS OF ITS EXISTENCE, IN DEFENDING AND REGROUPING ITSELF. It was a long HAUL. But the PUP VOWED to go "FORWARD EVER, BACKWARD NEVER."
HERE ARE A FEW OF THE PIONEERS, WHO WERE AMONG THE FOUNDERS OF THE PEOPLE'S UNITED PARTY ON THE 29TH SEPTEMBER 1950.
Jane Usher - Ianthe Stanford - Florence Gullap
Elsa Vasquez - Ethelvina Torres - Hazel Stuart
Vira Baptist - Idolly Simpson - Hazel Gentle
Liza Gray - Dorothy Bradley - Elsie Rhaburn
Ethel Wade - Fusca Pickwood - Maud Bennet
Jane Hall - Jane Rabateau - May Davies
Lois Encalada - Gweyn Lizarraga - Carolina Segura
MsBen Petillo - Maria Samos - Elda Gomez
Eddie Austin - Lucas Marin - Anthony Meighan - Joe Rivero
Alfred Bevans - Antonio Soberanis - Regie Faber - Joe Eralez
Nicholas Pollard - Karl Myvett - George Neal - Percy Trejo -
Charles Stolf - Rudy Lopez - Jose Cleland - Rudy De Costa
John Vernon- Marshall Nunez Sr - Baldemar Pinto - Jose de La Rosa
Woodrow Reyes - Guadalupe Montejo
And many others including those who ran in the many elections.
Panama Barber Shop was Seaford's grampa Tony Soberanis' barbershop, photo taken mid 1960's
William George Ysaguirre:
A modern ferroconcrete building has replaced the original wooden structure that housed the Belize Times, it was destroyed by the Queen Street fire of the late 1960's, which razed from Mr Tony Soberanis' barbershop to the Criminal Investgation Branch (CIB) building which sat on the corner of the Police Station compound, opposite Simon Quan & Co. Ltd.
Photographs and text courtesy of Hector Silva
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