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Sep 20, 2011

The Road to Independence with George Price

In the next few hours, the Belize flag will be raised at Memorial Park in Belize City with fitting pomp and circumstance. It is an event that symbolizes the first time the red, white and blue national standard was hoisted in 1981 paving the way for an independent and free Belize. George Price, the first prime minister and leader of the People’s United Party had succeeded in his singular achievement. Tonight, we pause to reflect on that moment thirty years ago when the Union Jack gave way to the national flag and the emergence of a new nation.  In the decades that followed, Price continued to dominate the political life of the new Belize. News Five’s Isani Cayetano looks back at 1981.

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

The symbolic raising of the Belizean flag on the eve of September 21st, 1981 is a moment enshrined in the annals of our nation.  The struggle for political freedom from Britain which later resulted in independence is synonymous with the name George Cadle Price. Sure, there were others who were instrumental in the movement towards self-government but the singular achievement of a man who would later become known as the Father of the Nation has transcended politics, race, religion and all other social constructs.

His stewardship over half a century ago, at a time in this country’s history when leaders were desperately needed, ultimately gave rise to Belize’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

George Price

Rt. Hon. George Price, First Prime Minister of Belize

“From the very start we had as an objective self-government and independence and we continued that ‘til we got it, self-government in 1964.  That was I think from 1950 to 1964, fourteen years, and then after 1964 the independence of Belize was internationalized.  We got the support of the world community, first beginning with the Commonwealth but by then in 1964 we had the Caribbean Community.  So many things happening and they were the first ones to support the movement.  From there the Commonwealth, [and] from there the Non-Aligned Movement.”

In the years that followed the fledgling nation would come to stand on its own feet, growing to become a proud people committed to development and progress despite the numerous stumbling blocks that come with maturity.

BBC Reporter

“First priority for the new nation now is to win admission to the United Nations.  With this Belizeans believe they can have more security as an independent nation than they ever had as a colony though as an independent nation they will still depend on British strength.”

Isani Cayetano

Isani Cayetano

“It’s been thirty years since the stately colors that have come to define Belize were hoisted against the backdrop of that warm, festive September night in Belmopan.  Since then a lot has happened including the succession of six political administrations, as well as the collective, cultural and economic integration of a people that would gradually reduce British influence.”

Three decades later a new leader has emerged to take the reins from a once dominant organization which led its membership to political victories long before independence became a reality.  At the first ever prime ministers’ forum held in Belize City last week P.M. Barrow soberly reflected on the electoral state of affairs during the fourteen-year period, as previously mentioned by the late premier, leading up to and following independence.

Dean Barrow

Dean Barrow [File: September 15th, 2011]

“I was concerned, as Manuel indicated he was, with the fact that ever since Self-Government and even before, one political party had won every election. I thought that if that trend were to continue, it could not be good for our emergent democracy. I then knew that fresh faces, new blood would have to get involved from the so call opposition point of view. My predisposition in terms of temperament in terms of my familys position, I was always opposition. And so this conference, this combination of factors, my feelings that really there needed to be a change at the level of the political directorate as a sort of country refresher after independence.”

Indeed Belize has come a long way post-Independence but there is still a long way to go in the continued social and political development of our nation.  Ironically, thirty years ago this citizen strongly opposed the efforts of George Price to have Belize gain its independence.  The placard on his back read “I object to the timing and the terms of independence.”  Before him another reads “It is our right to accept or reject our new constitution”.  That mantra still rings true today in light of current proposed changes to the very constitution that was brought to life by Belize’s independence. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

The flag-raising ceremony will be broadcast on this station as soon as it gets underway from the Memorial Park and stay tuned for our broadcast from Belmopan on Wednesday morning for the official Independence Day ceremonies.

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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1 Response for “The Road to Independence with George Price”

  1. Al says:

    Yes Mr. Barrow the country got new faces after George Price, but look at what they did to the country. Belize have made so little progress since the days of George Price that is frightening. The country is like a place that time forgot. Rotting houses falling to the ground. Lack of job opportunities. Failure to attract companies from outside the country to come in and create new jobs and bolster the economy. Corruption is the name of the game now. Self enrichment is the reason most politician enters the race. I pray God will raise up one dedicated man or woman, whose heart is truly for the progress of the country and the pursuit of a good life for the Belizean people.

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