As we celebrate another year dedicated to our patron Saint Peter, it is important to acknowledge the people who have carried out the heavy duties of making San Pedro what it is today. Many village chairmen and then mayors have been the core of San Pedro. The list brings to memory fine men dedicated to the well being of the island. As San Pedro celebrates its 151st birthday, we also honor the current leading authority of our community, Mayor Alberto Nuñez Sr.
Alberto "Beto" Nuñez was born in San Pedro on August 21st, 1934 to Alberto Nuñez and Andrea Villanueva. He attended R.C. School until the age of thirteen and then, like many locals during that time, dedicated himself to the fishing industry. Beto fished for two years after which he moved to Belize City to work for Colonial Development Corporation. He worked with this construction company for one year building the Fort George Hotel, known today as the Radisson. Returning again to San Pedro he continued fishing, but his goals were different. He found that the daily routine was becoming tedious. He was hungry for new things and a new life. At the young age of seventeen, he had a strong impulse and took a chance to travel out of Belize. He moved to Campeche, Mexico where he stayed for seven years working in various places, from a sawmill to a sugar factory or anything that was available. It was in Campeche that Alberto first worked on a shrimp boat. In 1959 en route to the Pacific via the Panama Canal, the boat docked in Belize. Alberto decided to visit his family, but the visit was longer than he expected. Alberto's roots were stronger than anything else and he decided to remain home.
While he was away, San Pedro had undergone some changes. Skin diving was becoming popular, as well as lobster fishing. The fishing cooperative was also in its first stages. Alberto, a hard worker, immediately learned these skills. He eventually went to work for the fishing cooperative where he worked as plant manager on three different occasions. In 1960 he married Teodi Nuñez and together had four children: Alberto Jr., Alfonso (deceased), Saul and Ira.
While working at the cooperative, Beto met Adam Smith. Because of his previous experience on shrimp boats, they immediately built a good working relationship. The shrimp industry was booming and Mr. Nuñez saw the potential of San Pedro benefiting from this. He persuaded the cooperative to buy a shrimp boat so they too could profit from this business. The co-op agreed and after a while acquired three boats. He worked in the industry for twelve years until it started to decline. In the 1970's he was a member of the San Pedro Village Council and was also the President of Caribeña Producers Co-op.
Alberto then ventured into a new business. He purchased a truck and used it to transport construction material. This was a good move, since development in San Pedro was at its peak and the need for this type of service was growing. Life was not always a bed of roses for Alberto. In 1987, a tragic fire claimed his son Alfonso's life and completely destroyed their home. He and his family held strong and together commenced a new life. In 1992, he was hired to work at Mash Hardware. Beto, a willing and hard worker, was a "Jack of all trades." His work and dedication to any project were admirable. It was not a surprise to anyone when in 1994 he was asked to enter the political field. Mr. Nuñez agreed, if by being involved, he could help the community. In the 1997 elections Alberto Nuñez was voted Mayor of San Pedro Town, a position he holds to date. Mayor Nuñez's work is visible throughout the community. When asked to comment about his responsibilities as Mayor he commented, "It is a heavy and different job. There are good days and bad ones. One has to be prepared for the unexpected. Sometimes only half an hour before the day is over, something major happens." The San Pedro Sun asked Mayor Nuñez if he was satisfied with his performance. He responded, "Not really. I would like to do more. Unfortunately, there are some goals that one cannot reach because of restrictions." He continued by saying, "San Pedro has its good and bad aspects. It is a big responsibility for any person to be responsible for its well being. That makes it difficult. When a place grows as San Pedro has, a person like me can see how we slowly lose some of our identity. The system changes, some culture is lost and generations change. Nevertheless not everything is lost. There are many people with good hearts and the will to work hard for the betterment of San Pedro."
Prior to the responsibility of Mayor, Alberto has worked hard for his family and his birth place. As Mayor he has fought for the rights of San Pedro so that we can preserve the honor of that special name given, "La Isla Bonita." Alberto Nuñez Sr. is a person of good heart and sincere thoughts. He has earned the right to be an important leader of "Our Community."
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