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Sep 20, 2012

Independence and George Price

Thirty-one years ago, at the stroke of midnight, the Union Jack was lowered and Belizean flag unfurled majestically as the symbol of nationhood. It was the birth of the new nation of Belize with its territory intact. The British continued to maintain a presence in Belize and Guatemala did not at the time recognize the independent Belize because of a territorial claim. The man who secured independence and is acclaimed as the father of the nation, is the Right Honorable George Price.  Price passed away one year ago and tonight we go back to archives for the powerful images of that moment in history in which you’ll see Price at his finest. News Five’s Andrea Polanco reports.

 

Andrea Polanco, Reporting

It is perhaps one of the most historic and meaningful days in our young history; it is also one that will live in the hearts of those who witnessed it and those who came after and are enjoying is fruits. The September celebrations back in 1981 were no ordinary events; with full pomp and pageantry, horns blaring, the citizens marched with nationalistic fervor. Boys Scouts and the Belize Red Cross were joined by the British Army to signal the transition of colony to nation state. And even with the arrival of Prince Michael of Kent, the presence of Belizean and British troops at the border was a stark reminder that Guatemala didn’t recognize our Independence. The failure of their endorsement of our nationhood was underscored by the presence of signs at the Western border; they still laid claim on Belize. But George Cadle Price, who would become our Father of Independence, didn’t acquiesce. Shortly before mid-night, on the eve of our independence, our red, white and blue flag was hoisted up high, replacing the Union Jack.

It’s the twenty-first of September 1981 and then Premier, George Price, took on the foreign press. His wit and charisma were forces to be reckoned with:

 

Journalist

“Are you using British Military presence because you can’t get the United States?”

 

George Price, Premier of Belize

“Well, up to now, it has been the responsibility of the British to maintain a presence here and they have done so and will remain after Independence for an appropriate time.”

 

Journalist

“Would you expect the United States to help you militarily?”

 

George Price

George Price

“We would like them, if there is a need.”

 

Journalist

“Since at the moment you depend on the British for your external security and a lot for your internal security; how independent do you think you are?”

 

George Price

“Very independent; because we respect each other and they are not to interfere in our internal matters, yes, next.”

 

Journalist

“Mr. Price, do you see yourself as a Christian Democrat or a Social Democrat?”

 

George Price

“I consider myself a Belizean and I consider myself going along in the via media. I try to be friend; the mixed economy, the public and the private. I would say that the fight against colonialism has ended and the British have done very honorably by carrying out the process of decolonization under the chart of the United Nations and for that we thank them.”

 

Journalist

“Who will be handling your external affairs, after independence?”

 

George Price

“We; we’ll be handling it; the Government of Belize.”

 

Journalist

“Is there anybody specifically that you want to involve?”

 

George Price

“Yes, but it’s in here; it’s not coming out here. It’s impetro as the Cardinals of Rome used to say. It’s in here. We haven’t given it out as yet. Yes.”

 

Journalist

“Now under what sort of economic conditions is the British leaving Belize; one sees unpaved roads; one sees open sewers; one sees housing problems. I’m just wondering what your feeling is. What sort of state does Britain have your country in?”

 

George Price

“Well, it’s not as developed as we would like it. I think we must be realists and must accept that perhaps much more could’ve been done but we ourselves have said  much has been done but much more has yet to be done and we feel that with the state of independence we can do the much more that is yet to be done.”

 

But the then Leader of the Opposition, the U.D.P.’s Ted Aranda, didn’t support the Premier’s school of thought. Aranda thought that relinquishing colony status would be detrimental to the country.

 

Dr. Ted Aranda, Leader of Opposition

“We just won’t have much to do with it at all. We’ll have nothing to do with Independence at this moment.”

 

Interviewer

“But you can’t stop it?”

 

Dr. Ted Aranda

“We may not be able to stop it, but we don’t like what is being done to our people and our country. I mean Britain is very powerful, so we can’t stop her, yes. But I don’t like what’s being done to us.”

 

Interviewer

“So what you think is gonna happen after Independence?”

 

Dr. Ted Aranda

Ted Aranda

“Not so much what I think is gonna happen, but what I know is gonna happen. Belize is gonna be in a heap of trouble; that’s for sure.”

 

Interviewer

“You expect the Guatemalans to invade?”

 

Dr. Ted Aranda

“Guatemalans are just one of the problems that we have. The Guerilla forces of Central America are another. The people of Belize are so polarized, it’s quite another thing. The economic development of the country is another, so Belize has a lot of problems that should’ve been solved before now, but have never been.”

 

But Ted Aranda would shortly after leave the U.D.P., form his own party and later join the P.U.P. Price’s vision for Belize was far beyond what the eye could see and the mind could conceive.

 

George Price

George Price

“This symbolic transition to the independent state of Belize signifies the fulfillment of a decolonization, which, as a metropolitan country and the founding member of the United Nations, the United Kingdom undertook to accomplish under the chapter. Belize was the last British Colony on the Central American mainland and the transition deserves the admiration and the support of all peaceful, freedom loving nations.”

 

It was thirty-one years ago that the Premier George Price aptly described this tiny country of dual identity. To scores of Belizeans, home and abroad, the words of the Father of Independence continue to ring true to this day.

 

George Price

“As we become a member of world communities, we hear the question asked, what is Belize and its people and how will they fit among you? In reply, Belize is a Caribbean and Central American nation which works and lives a revolution; that is peaceful, constructive, new, progressive and Belizean.  Belize is a people with all the attributes of nationhood; having one flag, one government, one constitution. Our mind imbues the democratic process. Our hands work the mixed economy. Our hearts beat with social justices and our soul cherishes treasures of the spirit.”

 

Reporting for News Five, I’m Andrea Polanco.


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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7 Responses for “Independence and George Price”

  1. Storm says:

    He was a great man and had a great vision for us. He led us to independence, but I’m not sure, as he looks down on us today from Heaven, that he is sure it was a good idea or that we were ready to handle our own freedom. We have so many new problems, and old problems are so much worse — and we can;t blame a colonial master, only ourselves for what we have done to the Jewel during 31 years of independence.

    We have much to reflect on, how to mobilize the people of the nation to do whatever it takes to put the country on a right direction for the future, for our children.

  2. Vuk says:

    While I’m glad that Belize is an independent country today, I’d have to say that the concerns Dr. Aranda had were valid, even more so now than it was in 1981.

  3. Sovereign but not Independent says:

    It has been some time now that the anniversary of our independence brings that feeling of melancoly that some of us feel on the day of our birthdays, because we measure our successes as a person by what we have accomplished in the preceding year. Although we had no militaristic invasion of Guatemalans or Central Americans as Ted Aranda said so many years ago, 2011-2012 witnessed the mass naturalizations of Guatemalans and Central Americans, an invasion of sorts in the sense that they were able to tip the outcome of our general elections. We also witnessed a partial default of our bond obligations evidencing that we are shackled econominally and now we have become accustomed to crime levels that we used to pity Jamaica for in the 1980s and 1990s. We have, it seems, emphatically demonstrated that not only were we not ready to govern ourselves in 1981, but during the next 30 years we didn’t learn to do so.

  4. Al says:

    Storm, you are on to something, Mr Price was a great leader. He was an un-selfish man who knew that if the people prosper, the country is better off. He asked nothing for himself, he lived in the same home until he died. He got out met the people and listen to their concerns and fixed what needed to be fixed to the best of his ability.

    What happened after Mr Price is that we voted men who were educated in the Law and not in things such as leadership, economics and business fundamentals. These subjects are very necessary fo one who leads a country The problem is also that there is no one strong enough on both sides of the parties to stand up to their leader for what is right for the country.

    That is what is wrong with the party system, even though something is wrong they go along with it anyway because it is a party direction. What ever besets this country the politicians forgat that unless they leave the county, they also have to live in the chaos they careate and sooner and later it touches them.

    I dont know if this is even possible, but one of two things should happen, relinquish independence, or become a territory of the United States as puerto rico did. This will bring some order, and hopefully some prosperity. America is certainly not the end all, but it offers some hope.

  5. ####Price says:

    Uncle George!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! MY HERO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. Ixchel Pop says:

    Looking at the way we were is bitter sweet- especially at independence time when we get a chance to take stock of where we are and where we are headed. I always like the optimism of GP, but I can’t also ignore the warning of TA. In so many ways we have regressed; we have moved backwards as well; fear and anxiety rules as we brace for a possible default on our bond payment….I hope that we find our way back as soon as possible because this dream that the GP generation had is quickly fading….

  7. BZ DAPPA says:

    To continue his legacy, lets stop being civil with !!!!!!MALA since they are not with us and ban all of them from Belize.

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