The independence of many Caribbean and Latin American colonies that remain under the political rule of powers such as Britain, France and the United States, among others, is always a current topic of discussion. The most recent example of success in the independence movements in the Latin American region is Belize, a country which obtained its sovereignty from the British government on September 21, 1981, thanks to the untiring work of George Cadle Price.
Considered the Father of Belize, Cadle Price, the third of eleven children, was born January 15, 1919, in Belize City. The future leader’s education was based from the beginning on his Christian faith. He completed his elementary studies at the Holy Redeemer School and from 1931 to 1935 he studied at St. John’s College High School. He later studied theology at the University of Rome and was a seminarian at St. Augustine’s Minor Seminary in Mississippi and the Mayor Seminario Conciliar in Guatemala.
Cadle Price dedicated practically his entire professional life to public service. He began his career in 1944, in an era when then British Honduras (as Belize was called in colonial times) was demanding greater national rights and freedom. In 1947 he became a member of the Belize City Council and from 1958 to 1962 he served as the city’s mayor. Along with a group of other citizens, he formed the Peoples Committee, an entity that sought to launch a peaceful revolution in the country. That led to the founding in 1950 of the social-Christian People’s United Party (PUP). Cadle Price became the main leader of the organization in 1956.
In 1958, the British government, aware of Cadle Price’s growing leadership, tried to undermine his credibility by arresting him and charging him with sedition. The case against him was unsuccessful, however, and his political stature increased. He also worked as a member of the Legislative Council, the House of Representatives and the Council of Ministers. In 1961, he rose to power as prime minister.
After multiple intense sessions of negotiations with the British government, Cadle Price achieved independence for Belize with its own constitution in 1981 and remained in his post as prime minister until the electoral defeat of the PUP by the United Democratic Party and its top candidate, Manuel A. Esquivel, in 1984. He returned as prime minister from 1989 to 1993 and resigned as leader of the PUP in 1996 to hand the reins to Said Musa, who governed Belize from 1998 to 2008.
Cadle Price’s work toward the social and political transformation of his country earned him important honors such as the Belize Order of National Heroes. He never married or had children and until his death on September 19, 2011 he lived in his home country and remained active in political life.
Author: Alfredo Nieves Moreno
Published: April 14, 2012.
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